Given the importance of online reviews for hotels together with the need to get an insight from experts of the field of reputation management, we had a great conversation with Mr. Michael Menzel, VP of Strategic Partnerships at TrustYou, “the world’s largest guest feedback platform”. Enjoy the conversation and learn more about the importance of online reputation management, the best practices in hospitality, the most important online medium and more, all coming from Mr. Menzel’s vast experience in the industry.
Nafsika Bourma: Hello Michael! Thank you for your participation in this discussion and for your time to share your precious insight with us and our customers.
Michael Menzel: Hello Nafsika! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this event.
Nafsika: First off, could you please share some basic information about TrustYou and your products?
Michael: We consider TrustYou as the world’s biggest guest feedback platform, and we are on a mission to improve the travel experience. Now what does that mean: it is from finding the right hotel to having the perfect stay. As you know our clients are hotels, destinations and travel websites. Therefore we do analyze hundreds of millions of travel reviews scattered across a vast, fragmented market and transforms this content into actionable insights and data visualizations for approx. 500,000 hotels. This enables travel sites to improve the trip planning process and hotels to offer the best experience to their guests. So our offering for hoteliers are
– TrustYou Stars: An advanced guest satisfaction survey tool that allows hotels to gain more reviews and enhance their content on Google.
– TrustYou Analytics: Our world’s leading online reputation management tool that allows hotels to analyze and influence their online reputation.
– TrustYou Meta-Review*: Global review summaries of all verified reviews written worldwide that are displayed on hundreds of sites like Google, KAYAK, Skyscanner, Wego, Sabre GDS, as well as on hotels’ own brand websites.
– TrustYou Radar: A mobile app to engage with travelers and manage reviews available for iOS and Android to always be up to date, anywhere, anytime.
Nafsika: All of us in the hospitality industry are aware of the great importance of online reputation for hotels and in your latest case study you mention a huge number (95% if I’m not mistaken) of travelers looking for reviews before making a booking. Could you please elaborate on that trend according to your experience?
Michael: Well, as you know data from reviews and online user generated content are highly useful for consumers when making an online purchasing decision. In the travel context, where this study found that 95% of travelers read reviews, this phenomenon is particularly true. I guess any overnight stay, but especially the vacation is precious time that nobody wants to waste and be frustrated. That makes them read the reviews and they do trust them when booking.
Nafsika: Therefore, I guess you would absolutely suggest to every single hotelier (independently of his hotel’s type and size) to focus on his brand’s reputation, don’t you?
Michael: Sure thing – we know today that a good reputation converts into booking. For this sole reason it is indispensable to care about the reviews – plus, what goes along with it is quality assurance. There is a significant correlation between a good score and the implementation of a professional quality assurance on a property.
Nafsika: What are the best practices in terms of handling online reviews? I mean in terms of response time, the position of the person responding, the mood of the response and so on. What would you suggest to our customers?
Michael: Just be yourself – know who you are, your weaknesses and strengths, be honest to yourself and respond without anger, distrust and excitement. If you feel like you don’t want to expose yourself or you are uncertain on how to respond, take professional advices and train yourself. The respond should be individual and authentic, if it’s the owner or the GM writing even better.
Nafsika: According to your experience up to now, what is the impact of properly working on a hotel’s reputation in relation to those hoteliers who haven’t consider it yet? In terms of bookings, online image etc.
Michael: Well, as I have said, there is a strong correlation. In fact there is a equation that I always like to cite: success equals reputation*price*marketing*availability – I guess that tells it all.
Nafsika: Which online medium you think affects the most travelers? Is it a hotel’s website, review sites as TripAdvisor or social media?
Michael: Google? As the starting point of most of the travel related queries it is certainly Google. In addition to that during the process of opinion making where to stay it is certainly review sites and booking portals, but the closer it gets to the sole booking it is or at least it should be the hotel’s website.
Nafsika: From your experience, which aspect affects potential hotel guests the most when reading an online review? A hotel’s facilities, services or products?
Michael: It depends from which context you come, for instance business travelers are significantly more likely to book hotels with positive reviews about WiFi. But those traveling with friends are more likely to book hotels with positive reviews about food. Not surprisingly those booking a romantic vacation are significantly more likely to book hotels with positive reviews about the rooms and for a family vacation, travelers are most likely to book hotels with positive reviews about the room/comfort. What people write most about is room and service – that is great for the hotel owners, since this is a quality they can steer themselves.
Nafsika: Thank you so much for your time and this very interesting conversation.
Michael: Nafsika, it has been my pleasure.
*TrustYou Meta-Reviews only contain verified reviews and do not include reviews from TripAdvisor.
For more information on reputation management, Mr. Menzel will be joining us on an educational event taking place towards the end of the month in Crete, Greece. Stay tuned for more.