Social Listening Tools: What are People Saying About You?

In 6 Tips for Doing Social Customer Service Right, we recommend using social listening tools (also known as social media listening tools or social media monitoring tools) to ensure you don’t miss any direct social media mentions and also to catch indirect mentions for providing excellent customer service. But what is a social listening tool, you ask? Don’t worry — no cold war technology or fancy 007 gadgetry is needed these days for eavesdropping. Here are the basics of social listening tools for those not in the know.

The What and Why of Social Listening

Social media listening, also known as social media monitoring, is used in order to find out who in Internetland is talking about your hotel — on blogs, review sites, news sites, social media and the like. Social listening tools provide you the opportunity to respond to those talking about you while collecting data that can be used for sales and marketing.

According to this article on multichannel customer service, companies who facilitate multiple communication channels have customers that spend 30 percent more than companies who only have one channel. While this article refers to direct communication such as phone, text, email and chat, social media also provides a platform for direct communication in the form of messages and comments.  In this way, social listening leads to increased guest satisfaction based on increased customer service, leading to increased revenue (see also: 8 Ways to Improve Guest Satisfaction and Your Online Reputation).

How to Get Started with a Social Media Listening Tool

In order to activate a social media listening tool, you need to have a social media presence. But what comes first, the chicken or the egg, the social media presence or the social listening tool? If you don’t have any kind of presence at all, start with creating accounts with the big social media players such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+. From there, look into social media management platforms, such as Hootsuite, to manage all your accounts from one dashboard. When choosing a platform, ensure it has social listening capabilities and the ability to collect and monitor data and aggregate the results. This social listening article describes how your hotel can then use that data to help you create content for social media that is going to appeal to your guests. And here’s a hint: your guests want content that will help and interest them, not overtly sell to them.

Top Social Listening Tools

There are many social media listening tools out there, and various social media platforms have them incorporated, such as Facebook Insights. You might want to use a variety of tools in order to get a broader picture. There are numerous others, but Huffington Post has narrowed it down for your convenience: Google Alerts, Hootsuite, Icerocket, and Social Mention. These (mostly free!) tools allow you to enter your hotel’s name and receive results for who is talking about you across the Web. Remember to use common misspellings or variations of your hotel’s name.

Online Reputation Management

If all this makes your head spin, a hotel reputation management system might just be the a one-stop-shop answer for you, offering next-generation guest satisfaction by connecting you with guest review postings and social media platforms. WebRezPro interfaces with leading reputation management system Revinate to automate the process of requesting guest feedback via post-stay surveys and posting reviews online — allowing lodging operators to improve their property’s online reputation and drive new sales, with no extra effort at all!

Amenity or Annoyance: How Does Your Hotel Wi-Fi Measure up?

Imagine you are away from work on a business trip. From your hotel room’s work desk, you set up your laptop and log into Skype in order to attend an important conference call. Half-way through the meeting there are delays and eventually your call is dropped – the result of a bad Internet connection. Has this experience happened to you? Your guests?

We recently blogged about the rising expectations of hotel guests, especially Generation Y, a generation increasingly reliant on wireless networks to operate one, two…even five devices that require Internet connections. Guests these days expect hotels and other accommodations to provide reliable wireless, high-speed Internet. How do you measure up?

Why provide Wi-Fi?

Internet access is now a standard amenity guests expect, along with air conditioning and tiny bars of soap. According to this article on lodgingmagazine.com, 34 percent of business travelers will not stay at a hotel without Internet access. And in a survey about guest satisfaction, inefficient Wi-Fi access was the top complaint. Gone are the days of screeching telephone modems; if you are going to offer Internet access, it has to be good and preferably great. Otherwise, it becomes a guest annoyance and not a feature at all.

What kind of Wi-Fi experience are you offering?

When guests choose to stay at a property with Internet access, they assume it is high-speed, wireless and reliable. Do you know how you measure up? If you don’t, chances are hotelwifitest.com does. This website displays the expected speed, maximum speed (bandwidth potential) and confidence (how thoroughly the connection has been tested) of various hotels around the world – as tested by hotel guests through the website. This information is then tweeted to the twittersphere and recorded on the website for visitors who wish to make their accommodation choice based on Internet speed.

Seems far-fetched? Let’s go back to the scenario this blog post started with. If a business traveller can’t conduct business from your property, that’s grounds for moving to another hotel. And if you are losing customers due to poor bandwidth, that’s not a complaint, that’s a revenue loss.

You don’t need to be a major player in order to provide an excellent Wi-Fi experience. In fact, smaller properties have an advantage when it comes to offering reliable high-speed Internet access. According to this article on Skift.com, smaller hotels generally receive higher ratings than larger and fancier hotels who have a bigger area to cover and more users to bog down networks. Whether you are a small or large property, there is always room for improvement, especially with an imminent bandwidth boom just around the corner as more people acquire more devices.

What can you do to improve WiFi performance?

Providing reliable Internet access is no longer a luxury service or a basic service, but an essential service properties must offer their guests. If your property offers the Internet but hasn’t upgraded in the last five years, it’s time. Just think, the iPad didn’t even exist five years ago! In addition to guest device use you may also need to consider in-room entertainment features, such as smart TVs and other advanced entertainment systems.

According to Lodging Magazine’s article on Boosting Hotel Bandwidth, hotels require four times more bandwidth than they did five years ago. Properties should upgrade when they start to reach 80 percent capacity.

So, how do you meet supply and demand? As this technical article on Navigating the Bandwidth Boom notes, it’s not so easy but you don’t have to figure it out alone. They recommend that you partner with a provider that can offer proactive maintenance (software and firmware upgrades) in addition to constant network monitoring.

There are many guest internet providers that cater specifically to hotels and accommodations, offering ongoing technical support and site visits. Do your research to make sure you choose one that meets your property’s specific requirements.

8 Ways to Improve Guest Satisfaction and Your Online Reputation

We recently blogged about research that shows hotel guest satisfaction is at a record high. However, as hotels and other lodgings are more effectively meeting customer expectations, it only makes sense that expectations are getting higher, leading to more critical guests. The study indicated that Generation Y (who are more engaged in social media than other travelers) are the most critical group of travelers and more likely to express their opinions online. So while guest satisfaction is improving across the industry, it’s important not to let your guard down; customer service is evolving and it’s essential to keep up.

Technology is changing guest expectations (think fast Wi-Fi, iPod docking stations, hotel apps…) and is reducing the amount of face-to-face interaction between guests and hotel staff. Between check-in kiosks and mobile Internet and apps, it’s possible for guests to manage their stay without front-desk staff or the concierge. That doesn’t mean that a personal connection with guests is not vitally important, it just means that we need to start thinking about customer service in different ways. That’s why more and more properties are engaging with guests through social media before, during and after their stay to improve the guest experience and their property’s online reputation.

Guest satisfaction and online reputation go hand in hand now more than ever. You can’t improve one without working on the other. Hospitality news website HotelNewsNow.com recently published a great article about how to improve guest satisfaction and it’s no surprise that online reputation management tactics feature heavily on their list of suggestions.

Here’s a rundown of HotelNewsNow.com’s 8 Ways to Improve Guest Satisfaction (for the full article, click here):

  1. Optimize online presence – Having a website is not enough. To maximize visibility and sales your property needs to be present on OTAs, review websites and social media channels.
  2. Manage guest expectations – Don’t mislead potential guests with empty promises that will only lead to disappointment (and negative feedback). Be truthful and helpful.
  3. Be true to your brand – Always strive to exceed expectations. Impressed guests turn into repeat customers and advocates.
  4. Ask for and track guest feedback – Be proactive! Front-desk staff can ask guests about their stay and invite them to write reviews online, but with fewer guests checking out at the front desk these days it’s important to conduct post-stay surveys or invite guests to review their experience via post-stay email communication.
  5. Analyze guest feedback – Listen to what guests are saying and act on it. Gather and review all forms of guest feedback to measure and analyze for actionability. Online reputation management software is increasingly important for this.
  6. Use feedback to guide decisions – Guest feedback can be applied to decision-making in all areas and departments: staff recruitment and training, sales and marketing, investments in new services/amenities, etc.
  7. Respond to guest feedback – Show guests (and prospective guests) that you are listening and you care; respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. Express appreciation for the review, reinforce positive aspects, apologize for any issues, and specify actions that will be taken to improve.
  8. Provide social service – Use social media channels to connect with guests and provide customer service pre-, during and post-stay.

Hotel Guest Satisfaction is higher than Ever – How Satisfied are Your Guests?

According to research firm J.D. Power’s 2014 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study℠, hotel guest satisfaction is at a record high. In fact, with overall satisfaction averaging 784 points (out of 1,000) in 2014, guest satisfaction is up 27 points from 2012.

The study, now in its 18th year, measures satisfaction with the entire hotel experience, from reservation to check-out, across eight market segments: luxury, upper upscale, upscale, midscale full service, midscale, economy, upper extended stay and extended stay. Satisfaction was up in all segments, except the extended stay categories, which remained stable. This year’s research was based on responses gathered from more than 67,000 guests who stayed at a hotel in North America between May last year and May this year.

The study revealed these interesting findings:

>> Among guests surveyed, Generation Y (age 24 – 36) are the most critical of their hotel stay.

>> The proportion of guests who shop hotel brands primarily by price has fallen 7 percent since last year (from 19% to 12%), while the number of those who base their hotel selection on thorough research (online and other) has increased to 10 percent from 7 percent last year. (And those ‘scrutinizers’ are loyal, by the way, with the largest amount of guests very committed to a hotel brand.)

>> Trendsetting brands receive the most positive comments, while those seen as environmentally unfriendly receive the most negative comments.

>> Unclean rooms have the greatest negative impact on guest satisfaction.

>> Internet connectivity issues are twice as prevalent as any other guests problem.

The results of this study illuminate the importance of getting to know your guests and their expectations in order to improve performance and guest satisfaction, gain guest loyalty and boost your bottom line. But just how do you get to know your guests and ensure your property lives up to their expectations? It all hinges on a good hotel property management system (PMS).

How a Cloud PMS Leads to More Satisfied Guests

It seems that guest expectations are getting higher—especially those of Generation Y, according to the J.D. Power study. And it’s important to live up to the high expectations of Gen Y because they have increasingly more money to spend on travel and they make up a significant portion of that growing group of scrutinizers mentioned above, too. More engaged in online and social media channels than other travelers, Generation Y are doing their research before choosing where to stay, reading (and writing) reviews online. You need to be on the ball. Here’s how a cloud PMS can help satisfy the pickiest guests:

Easy online bookings make a great first impression
First impressions count, and a guest’s first point of contact with your property is likely online. (So it might also be time to make sure your website is up to snuff.) A cloud PMS will provide seamless online reservations for your website, making it easy, fast and convenient for customers to book online. The online booking engine should be integrated with the PMS, too, automatically updating reservations and inventory within the PMS as online reservations are made. Easy for your guests and easy for you.

Personalized service to make guests feel special
Detailed guest profiles will allow you to record everything you need to know about your guest – their room preferences, special requests, on-property spend, stay history, birthday, anniversary, etc., allowing you to personalize guest service and build loyalty. Other guest management features like pre- and post-stay emails, reservation alarms and pop-up reminders for staff, VIP flagging, post-stay surveys and loyalty programs help to ensure no guest slips through the cracks.

Seamless operations = smooth guest experience
Cloud PMS offer fully automated and integrated property management, which means that daily hotel operations from reservations to check-out are streamlined at every step. Front desk, billing, housekeeping… it’s all integrated and accessible from any mobile device or computer connected to the Internet (on or off property). Anywhere Access eliminates the need to go back to the front desk for information, enabling staff to attend to guest requests and complaints in a timelier manner. And there shouldn’t be any more complaints about dirty rooms; with a cloud PMS, housekeepers can update room status in real time via mobile housekeeping reports so front desk staff know as soon as a guest’s room is clean and ready. Furthermore, a cloud PMS is easily integrated with other hotel systems like online distribution channels, reputation management, POS, entertainment systems, call accounting, etc., automating tasks across the board to give you more time to focus on your in-house guests.

Trendsetting technology that’s environmentally friendly, too
The flexibility and deployment of Web technology means cloud PMS are more innovative, more mobile and better for the environment than legacy systems. Think mobile booking engines, electronic signature capture for paperless check-in, and “keyless entry” (guest smartphones act as virtual room keys)… a cloud PMS offers the potential to wow even the most aloof guests.

Make sure your property is achieving record-high guest satisfaction with a cloud PMS geared toward streamlined operations and complete guest management.

If you have any questions about WebRezPro Cloud Property Management System, feel free to drop us a line.

Top Hotel Management Software buyer trends for 2014

Hotel management researcher Software Advice has just released their 2014 Hotel Management Software (HMS) BuyerView report uncovering this year’s top HMS buyer trends. The report reveals why hotel managers are looking for new software, which features are most important to them, and the most active buyer segments.

At a time when hotel technology is rapidly evolving, the report provides HMS vendors like ourselves with valuable insight into current buyer needs and helps to ensure that we are providing our clients with what they really want. The report is also an interesting read for lodging managers looking to purchase hotel management software, reinforcing the benefits of HMS (especially for independent and boutique properties) in the current market.

Software Advice compiled the report by analyzing discussions with a random selection of 385 of their HMS-seeking customers from 2013. Here are the key findings from their research:

Who’s buying HMS?
The majority of HMS buyers (57%) operate small-to-medium properties between 10 and 50 rooms. One quarter of buyers represent independent hotels (25%), followed by inns (15%) and resorts (14%).
Software Advice Buyer Size Room Numbers

Why are these properties looking for hotel management software?
Most buyers are looking to replace either existing HMS (34%) or spreadsheet/paper-based methods of property management (28%).

The top three reasons buyers are looking to replace an existing HMS are the need to update outdated software (18%), missing features like online bookings and channel management (16%) and the need to improve efficiency (15%).

The vast majority of first-time HMS buyers looking to replace manual methods cite the desire to improve efficiency by automating day-to-day tasks (72%).

Software Advice Reasons Replacing HMS

Which features are in top demand?
The most-requested HMS features are reservation management (28%) followed by online bookings (22%) and guest management features (11%), in order to better reach their target customers.
Software Advice Most Requested Features

The results of this report align with our experience here at WebRezPro PMS. While WebRezPro is implemented at a variety of property types, including large hotels (over 100 rooms), hostels, vacation rentals, B&Bs and campgrounds, the majority of our clients consist of small-to-medium independent hotels and motels, inns and boutique properties. The system’s comprehensive feature set, intuitive user interface and flexibility are well suited to a variety of independent properties.

Also in support of the findings, most of our clients either come from paper-based or “homemade” systems or are looking to replace an existing HMS that no longer meets their needs. Improving efficiency by streamlining operations, online booking functionality, and moving to an affordable, cloud-based system are the most common reasons our clients seek us out.

Reservation management has long been a fundamental component of an HMS and we believe that online booking functionality and channel management are now part and parcel of that—and it appears that Software Advice’s buyers support that notion. WebRezPro includes a mobile-friendly online booking engine that is fully integrated with the PMS, eliminating the need for hoteliers to manually enter online reservations into the system. WebRezPro also integrates with the GDS and OTAs like Expedia, Booking.com and Orbitz, and channel management solutions, streamlining online distribution.

As well, we find that personalized guest service is a high priority of our independent and boutique hotel clients, and effective guest management features are key to doing this right. WebRezPro’s guest folios are designed to capture comprehensive guest data, complete with the ability to set guest-specific pop-ups (a reminder to wish the guest a happy anniversary, for example), and enable hoteliers to personalize guest service at all touch points during the guest cycle.

Click here to see the full Software Advice report.