TripAdvisor launches widget to allow hoteliers to collect reviews on their own website

TripAdvisor have announced a brand new widget added to their TripAdvisor for Business collection, this one taking review collection to a different level.  The new tool allows hoteliers to collect TripAdvisor reviews directly on their own website.  Simply install the widget (you can see TripAdvisor’s handy video all about this below) and you have an embedded TripAdvisor branded form direct on your homepage to ask visitors to review your property.

Christine Petersen, President of TripAdvisor for Business commented “TripAdvisor’s new Full Review Form tool helps businesses collect more reviews and opinions right from their own websites and make this feedback available before our large community of travellers.  Research shows that 81 per cent of travellers find user reviews important when determining which hotel to stay at during their trip, and nearly half won’t book a property if it doesn’t have reviews on sites like TripAdvisor.”

Here you can see the Hotel Bellevue taking advantage of the new TripAdvisor functionality.

I am sure will be met with a very different response from different areas of the industry.  It’s no secret that some hoteliers hate TripAdvisor and the thought of giving their guests an even easier option to leave a review would not be welcome.  At almost every industry conference I have attended, when the poor chap from TripAdvisor walks on stage, hoteliers boo him (poor guy!).  However, I do believe that aside from all of the usual authenticity issues surrounding traveller reviews of TripAdvisor, a lot of hoteliers see the value in having a platform for both good and bad comments.  Being open and transparent would to me create a good impression.  I also think that the shere volume of reviews means that you have to be realistic.  A traveller is going to leave reviews online.  They are also going to read reviews before they book.  So why not let them do both these things on your own website, rather than on someone else’s.  Get that booking direct – be open and transparent.  Of course for a hotel, the key is how you manage these reviews.  I’m going to put together a ‘top 10’ guideline to this soon.

For more information, you can visit the TripAdvisor FAQ website here.

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ReviewPro Releases Global Review Index™ Top Hotel Rankings for UK Cities

A company that I admire a great deal, ReviewPro, have this week released their Global Review Index Top Hotel Rankings some of Britain’s busiest hotel cities, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Oxford.  ReviewPro are a leading provider of online reputation and social media management solutions to the hotel industry who aggregate hundreds of millions of social media mentions from hundreds of the most relevant Online Travel Agencies, review websites and social media platforms.  If you’ve not taken a look at the service ReviewPro can provide your hotel, then you really should.  In my opinion, they are by far the market leader in this field and are truly experts in reputation management.  ReviewPro provides the analysis, customer intelligence, competitive benchmarking and automated reporting needed to help hoteliers more effectively manage their online reputation.

The Top Hotel Rankings are based on the Global Review Index, a benchmark for guest satisfaction in the hotel industry that is calculated with guest review scores from hundreds of the most relevant Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and review sites worldwide.

In London, The Halkin took the #1 spot in the ranking, followed by Hotel 41 and The Milestone Hotel. The Chester Residence (Edinburgh), Hotel Indigo (Glasgow), Posh Pads at The Casartelli (Liverpool), Velvet Hotel (Manchester), Staybrigde Suites Newcastle (Newcastle upon Tyne) and The Old Bank Hotel (Oxford) took the number one spots in the other UK cities in this ranking.

ReviewPro CEO RJ Friedlander says: “We have released similar rankings in several European and North American cities over the last year, and feedback from individual hotels, chains and industry experts has been amazing.  We are excited to expand these powerful rankings at this key time for the UK hotel sector, when all eyes are on London in the run up to the Olympics.”

Originally piloted in 2011, these B2B rankings are calculated based on guest reviews from more than one hundred of the most relevant review sites and online travel agencies (OTA) and evaluate reviews for 3, 4 and 5 star hotels over the course of a 12-month period. The ranking are based on the Global Review Index, a proprietary algorithm developed by ReviewPro in conjunction with leading hotel industry experts.  It enables hotels to know their current quality score, track their performance over time and compare their online reputation to their competitors or to other hotels within their chain with a single index.

Thousands of hotels in more than 70 countries, including some of the most recognized hotel brands in the world, rely on ReviewPro to better understand and improve guest satisfaction and to profit from the social web. Clients include Alila Hotels & Resorts, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Cavendish London, Citizen M Hotels, Concorde Hotels & Resorts, Corinthia Hotels, Epoque Hotels, Hotel Bel-Air, 1895 Historic Hotels, Hotusa Hotels, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Louvre Hotels Group, Melià Hotels International, Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Occidental Hotels & Resorts, the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, the Roger Smith Hotel and Swiss-Belhotel International.

Accor announce new Carbon Optimizer tool for MICE segment

Accor have unveiled their Carbon Optimizer product for professional customers, which allows meeting and seminar organisers to discover and cut their events’ carbon footprint across Accor’s 2000+ venues.  This interactive Carbon Optimizer combines a comprehensive set of variables, including the number of participants, the number of nights they plan to stay, how long the seminar will last, how big the meeting rooms are and the energy mix in the host country. It also factors in food services, i.e. the type of food and whether meals are buffets or table-served.

Accor claim that this means this is a unique product in terms of its methodology – the calculators on the market often only measure emissions from production processes and energy consumption to power hotel equipment.  Accor, however, includes indirect emissions associated with organizing seminars, i.e. waste treatment, paper and, especially, food which is a substantial source of carbon emissions.
This way, customers will be able to choose menus based on their carbon footprint, and adopt more responsible choices.

It is forecast that by the end of 2012, all Accor sales teams will have access to this tool to help their customers organize their seminars.

This carbon optimizer was developed by Accor to meet its professional customer expectations. The guest survey that the Group ran in six countries and published in June 2011 revealed that 84% of business customers are sensitive to sustainable development – compared to 76% of all customers. Business customers are also more aware of large business firms’ responsibilities and 57% of them say that they take sustainable development into account when they choose a hotel – compared to 51% of the total. The environmental footprint report published by the Group in December 2011 provided all the necessary databases to build this carbon optimizer.

Ludovic Dupont, Accor Vice President Travel Agencies – Meetings & Events, adds that “Sustainable development is an opportunity for our customers and a decisive competitive advantage for our brands, in every country. I am convinced that our commitment creates the sort of perception that nurtures customer trust and loyalty to Accor.”

This carbon optimizer is one step towards achieving the goals in PLANET 21, the new sustainable development program that Accor launched in April 2012.  Sophie Flak, Accor Executive Vice President for Academies and Sustainable Development, explains, “The ambition of PLANET 21 is to involve more our customers in our continuous-improvement drive on the sustainable development front. The carbon optimizer, an innovative tool packed with completely new calculation variables, is a step in that direction. It will allow us to work with our professional customers to on sustainable offers for meetings and seminars in our hotels.”

For me, the requests from HBA and those in the MICE sector for carbon data peaked a couple of years ago and it had started to subside and become less important, particularly in RFP’s.  I think that some even viewed this subject as something that they could “tick a box” to say they could do, in terms of providing some kind of estimated data, without actually worrying if it was accurate or could provide environmental benefit in any way.  But this year, we have once again seen this topic rise to the top of corporates agendas and I think many events businesses do not know where to start, so will certainly welcome Accor’s leadership on this.

ReviewPro

I’m often asked how independent hotels can monitor and respond effectively to online reviews of their hotel, both good and bad,  as well as manage what people are saying about their property on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. ReviewPro is amongst the best (if not the best) way to do this. Here’s a short introduction video on the ways ReviewPro can help you.

Pegasus launch MetaSearch solution to drive direct bookings

Pegasus Solutions have today announced the launch of their MetaSearch Services, a solution that allows hotels to capture direct bookings from metasearch results, and is now available to Pegasus’ 90,000 hotel customers.

Launched today at ITB Berlin, the product has recently completed its beta pilot testing with several major hotel chains, during which Pegasus claims they achieved a return on investment of up to 5:1 for every US dollar spent.

We often talk about how important the direct channel is to your hotel and using every opportunity to drive traffic back to your website and capture bookings.  Of course, hotels need online travel agencies and GDS channels to gain maximum exposure, but real profit is driven by getting a high proportion of direct bookings too.

MetaSearch Services seems to be a good way of achieving just this, and picking up additional direct bookings.  With MetaSearch Services, Pegasus increases the revenue opportunity for hotels seeking business through online search by displaying and linking directly to hotel information, rate and availability in metasearch results. The product allows metasearch engines to shop hotels and travel suppliers through Pegasus, but sends the booking directly to the hotel chain or hotel website.

“Hotels need to be able to reach consumers wherever they choose to shop, whether they prefer to book through an online travel agency or directly with the hotel,” said David Sjolander, vice president of product management, distribution services for Pegasus Solutions. “Our MSS enables hotels to provide consumers with this choice when they elect to conduct price comparisons using metasearch.”

“The hotel industry is in the midst of a major transition in terms of the way travel is being distributed, shopped and sold,” added Sjolander. “We’re seeing the market evolve. Hotels require fresh solutions like MetaSearch Services that allow them to compete strategically in today’s market.”

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has spoken to Pegasus about their new tool and is planning on using it for their hotel.  This could be a really interesting tool for the industry.

Sabre RFP Tools

Sabre Travel Network offer three very interesting tools that could serve you in your RFP process, whether your reading this as a hotel, corporation or even travel agent.  Sabre, one of the world’s largest Global Distribution Systems, offer many hospitality products and services to our industry, from hotel distribution to representation, but in particular, I wanted to present to you their tools to help aid the RFP process. 

For those who are not familiar with this term, RFP stands for request for proposal, and is the process where you negotiate what your preferred inventory partner and rates are for the following year, typically taking place in the last three months of the year.  This is quite a labour intensive process and many hotels are actually frustrated with the process and it’s more often than not spoken about at all the major hotel conferences around the world.

The process is not as simple as that though.  Even today, many of these negotiations happen via fax, and the documents sent to hotels can contain many questions, ranging from rate inclusions to property information, such as “does your property have a lift, disabled rooms, restaurants etc.  Alternatively, I believe there is also a more automated way to send the request via Lanyon, but I don;t have personal experience of this.

The main problem that is always raised is that too many requests are sent to too many hotels.  For this reason, and with so many requests, you often hear that so many hotels either don’t respond to the RFP, or it comes back to the corporation / agency far too late.  Hotels want to respond, as it’s a key way to ensure they retail loyal customers and fill their rooms for the following year.  But as you can tell, the process is lengthy and often time consuming.  Imagine you’re an independent city-centre hotel and how many RFP requests you could receive in that three month period!

Sabre have three solutions aimed at helping the process, so if your involved in RFP’s and haven’t heard of this, the take a look.  I’;ve taken some of the text below from Sabre’s website, which also hosts short video presentations on the products, which you can access by clicking here.

Sabre Hotel RFP – For Hotels:  This is an automated notification service that generates qualified leads from hundreds of Fortune 500 companies aimed at unlocking new opportunities for hoteliers of all sizes.  More than 700 corporate travel managers and agencies use Sabre Hotel RFP, representing more than 4.5 million room nights in 2009. Today, you only respond to RFPs if the corporation specifically requests your property.  But with Hotel RFP, you can compete even if you weren’t selected.  90% of corporate Hotel RFP users choose to receive responses from qualified hotels not initially considered. 

Sabre Hotel RFP – For Corporations & Travel Agencies:  Travel professionals can quickly and easily assemble an RFP package that is compliant with the standards issued by the National Business Travel Association.  As a corporate travel buyer, you can source and map hotels in proximity to relevant travel destinations, deliver the RFP package, interactively negotiate rates and create final contracts.

If you have personal experience of using Sabre’s tools or any other you have to help with this process, please leave a comment, it would be great to share experiences.  How has the process worked for you this year?

How to register as an owner on TripAdvisor

We know how powerful TripAdvisor can be to your hotel, so it’s key that you ensure you are registered as the owner of the property.  Take a look at this video if you’re in any doubt.