Globalization of Online Travel Drives Importance of Consumer Review Scores
Online consumer reviews are the third most trusted form of advertising behind recommendations from friends and family and branded websites, according to the Global Trust in Advertising Report from Nielsen.
Since content from websites like Travelocity, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Bookings.com, Expedia, and Orbitz appear on the pages of many online travel agencies (OTAs), the Internet can turn a review score into word of mouth on steroids — for good or bad. That is why companies in the travel and hospitality sector have now gone beyond online content localization into optimization. They often now begin with the first thing customers look at, the review score.
At Adapt Worldwide, Welocalize digital marketing division, we deliver expertise for the broader task of consulting on global content strategies for the travel and hospitality sector. We look at content from the perspective of ROI, rather than just from localization and creating content into different languages.
One method we use is to analyze data so companies can identify on which OTA they have a weaker review score, or where their scores are going down. We then help manage these online reviews by identifying what people are saying and where exactly the problem lies, such as a specific issue with a certain hotel or flight.
Many clients are interested to know how they are performing and how they can improve rating scores themselves. It is no longer just about generating static content. It also is about analyzing online interactions and bridging the gap between content and ROI.
Hotel Review Scores
Feedback from hotel guests and travelers can either be positive, negative, or neutral. For example, for hotel properties, problems generally fall into four categories:
- Facilities (e.g., bathroom drain backed up)
- Service (e.g., unfriendly front-desk staff)
- Advertising or Sales (e.g., a room given under a promotion not as advertised)
- Billing (e.g., credit card hold charges not removed upon checkout)
Adapt Worldwide culls all this data in as many languages as the feedback comes in, and analyzes it. Hotels could go into all these OTAs and read multilingual user-generated content themselves; however, hotels have lots of other things to do that are more central to their core business. Therefore, the hotel may look at user-generated content anecdotally, fix a certain problem, and then hope guest feedback improves and the review score goes up.
Strategic data analysis is a central, core function for certain teams at Adapt Worldwide. The team provides digital capability and skills to analyze data in an effective way, anecdotally as well as by examining online reviews unhampered by any language barrier. If guests use these rankings to decide whether to book or not, then review scores become increasingly important. More crucial, sometimes, than the content on the OTA itself.
For clients in this sector, we have examined the correlation between rankings and review scores. We analyze the results on different OTAs over time, look at trends and chart the performance of different hotels versus their review scores. Properties that book higher have higher review scores. The same applies if certain hotels slip in rankings over time. That indicates a problem; maybe the service has dropped, or there is a problem with management or the facilities.
Language Analysis at Adapt Worldwide
We provide insights into what people are saying, based on certain keywords. In short, language analysis. We collate data through automated scripts and identify key phrases that indicate sentiment across reviews. There are some manual checks to ensure that no false negatives exist (e.g., “Definitely not the best hotel I have stayed in”). Generally, you want to keep the data so it can be viewed and accessed quickly.
If there is a problem that is fixable around, say, a certain facility, then Welocalize and Adapt Worldwide will inform the company’s central management team, who can work on getting the issue fixed. Beyond just translating words, Adapt Worldwide’s analysis of user generated content (UGC) can translate into an action report so the hotel can focus on what exactly the user or guest wants and then act on it. Adapt Worldwide processes all data analysis and generates action reports for clients to understand what content they should create for their website.
While you cannot mitigate against one person’s opinion, you can certainly see trends over time; which makes it easier to act and observe if performance improves. As the travel and hospitality industry becomes a lot more competitive, it is no longer enough to merely use some paid search. Companies must now focus on content optimization for both their branded websites and on the OTAs that drive traffic to them.
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