Nowadays businesses want to get more serious on social media while the customer is online and willing to talk. Online communities are an attractive tool for business to use in order to use platforms for co-creation of experiences between companies and consumers to truly become partners of brands. (López, 2016) ‘They provide consumers with access to organisations and can significantly affect the revenues and cost structure of an organisation.’ (Peelen. 2013) Customers want to be heard and success and failure is closely related to each other. (Youtube, 2016). Besides choosing the right platform and developing a multimedia channel strategy, it is important to listen to the customer. Therefore social listening is important.
Social listening is monitoring analysing a digital conversation in order to understand what a customer is saying about a brand. Dealing with reaction of guests in a proper way can cause positive brand image and long lasting relationships and engagement. According to Tripadvisor 85 % of users agree that thoughtful responses of hotels improve the impression of the hotel. (Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)
Online reviews have transformed consumer decision making in the hospitality industry.96 % of the Tripadvisor users consider reading reviews before trips to book a hotel. Moreover 83% of the users usually or always reference reviews before deciding to book a hotel. For the hotel industry the booking of a hotel is mainly influenced by reviews of other people. 79 % of the Tripadvisor users read 6 to 12 reviews before deciding on a hotel booking. Moreover it influences the expectations guests have before going to a hotel. Unfortunately hotels are not able to control what people write about a brand. Therefore it is crucial to control and manage the reviews and reactions in a proper way.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013) (Tripadvisor, 2015)
There are different ways of controlling social media reviews. One way is human analysis of online conversations which gives a better understand how and why customers are talking about a certain subject. However, this method is quite expensive. Another tool for online listening is the creation of brand owned forums which encourage customers to talk to each other about experiences.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)
Before implementing analysis systems of forums it is important to have internal in a hotel brand a proper management and team who and how is in charge of reacting and reading the comments. While the hotel industry is large and consists of many different types of hotels and scales, an example of three approaches to online reviews are presented.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)
Research shown that well known four star brands in general use the conservative approach to online review responses. An online review specialist summarizing online review content which is shared to managers, sales directors and operations directions at the individual hotels.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)
Another approach used in general at international luxury brands is the role of general manager’s play in the reviewing of social media. General Managers pays attention to the ranking provided by online monitoring service and compering this score for hotel’s ‘brand engagement’ with a competitor set. Moreover often there is an internal social media team who is responsible for responding on online reviews who come directly from the hotel’s general manager.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)
At L’Hermitage Hotel in Vancouver, general manager Glenn Eleiter respond to review posts personally. However, he mentioned that he believes every staff member and manager is a major player regarding reputation management. The Cavendish London hotel, managing director Ciarán Fahy aligning social media activities with sales and marketing, revenue, F&B and human resources. She mentioned that working as a team built strong presence online. (Reviewpro, 2012)
The strategic approach is used in order to engage with the customer and ongoing relationship. This approach also uses online review information to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness to create innovative service offerings.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)
Social listening is extremely important in the decision making process of guests. Before hotels can react in the proper way to social media comments of guests, the internal organisation of social listening should be well arranged. By combining the strategy of strategic approach with the approach which is suitable for the hotel, customer engagement and social listening is achieved in a successful way.(Park, S. Allen, J. 2013)
López, M. Aguilar, S. (2016) Creation in Virtual Brand communities. In online Brand Communities. Springer International Publishing.
McCarthy, I. (2013). Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Youtube Retrieved from; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCjCbqYs_j0
Park, S., Allen, J. (2013) Responding to online reviews problem solving and engagement in Hotels. School of Hotel Administration. Sage Journals.
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Pearson Education Limited.
ReviewPro. (2012). For Hotels, Winning at the reputation management game means taking a team approach. Events, Hospitality Industry news.
Tripadvisor.(2015). 5 Tips Inspired by Our New Traveler Survey. Tripadvisor insights. Retrieved from; https://www.tripadvisor.com/TripAdvisorInsights/n2665/5-tips-inspired-our-new-traveler-survey