When Num­bers Don’t Lie

Portfolio - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Vic­tor Chen

More peo­ple are trav­el­ing, gen­er­at­ing feed­back, and com­par­ing in­for­ma­tion

Ma­jor shifts in travel in­dus­try have seen more peo­ple trav­el­ing, gen­er­at­ing feed­back and com­par­ing in­for­ma­tion. As the fig­ures triple and quadru­ple – from num­ber of trav­el­ers to op­er­a­tors in the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor and in­for­ma­tion gen­er­ated be­tween them, an ef­fi­cient and re­li­able way of man­ag­ing data be­comes even more im­por­tant

Guest feed­back has be­come an im­por­tant tool for hos­pi­tal­ity com­pa­nies to keep on top of their game. The days of reg­is­ter­ing a dis­creet, per­sonal com­plaint to the man­ager with a let­ter are over. More peo­ple are trav­el­ing to­day, many of them vo­cal about their ex­pe­ri­ence as guests, and aren’t shy about turn­ing to so­cial me­dia to air them. Ig­nor­ing what cus­tomers are say­ing – good, bad or neu­tral – can be a costly mis­take. One com­pany, TrustYou, has been mak­ing a head­way in ag­gre­gat­ing large vol­ume client feed­backs, an­a­lyz­ing the data, and de­liv­er­ing them to clients in the travel and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tors as con­ve­niently pack­aged ac­tion­able in­sights. Founded in 2008 in Ger­many, TrustYou’s prod­ucts are trusted and used world­wide by sup­pli­ers – ho­tels, ac­com­mo­da­tions, and restau­rants – for an ar­ray of rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment pur­poses, and by in­ter­me­di­aries – OTAs, meta-search, des­ti­na­tion mar­keters – to help trav­el­ers pur­chase wisely. TrustYou claims to draw its data from over 230,000 travel re­views a month. The stag­ger­ing fig­ure comes from var­i­ous sources, and the com­pany trans­forms this con­tent for over half a mil­lion ho­tels, cut­ting down te­dious ground­work, and en­abling travel sites to fine-tune their trip plan­ning pro­cesses and ho­tels to of­fer the best ex­pe­ri­ence to their guests. The com­pany’s goal is to en­able ho­tels and des­ti­na­tions to pro­vide trav­el­ers with bet­ter ser­vices and en­hanced of­fer­ings by mon­i­tor­ing, sur­vey­ing and act­ing on trusted feed­back of their guests. This also helps in­ter­me­di­aries im­prove trav­el­ers’ search-shop-buy ex­pe­ri­ences by pro­vid­ing struc­tured data such as meta re­views. In a con­ver­sa­tion with Port­fo­lio, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor APAC En­ter­prise Sales, Mr. Alex Tan ex­plains how the sys­tem works.

Port­fo­lio: Is guest feed­back re­li­able? Why? Can’t they be gen­er­ated by an en­ter­pris­ing ho­tel owner, an un­scrupu­lous yet well-paid mar­ket­ing com­pany, and an army of trolls?

Mr. Alex Tan: Yes, feed­back is re­li­able. Firstly, the vast ma­jor­ity of on­line portals have im­ple­mented many mea­sures to en­sure the au­then­tic­ity and ac­cu­racy of re­views. Se­condly, a high num­ber of re­views is com­ing from travel sites such as Book­ing.com, Agoda and Ex­pe­dia, where re­views are col­lected from trav­el­ers after they have stayed with the ac­com­mo­da­tion. Thirdly, it is be­com­ing a very com­mon prac­tice that ho­tels col­lect their own re­views through soft­ware like TrustYou Sur­vey, which au­to­mat­i­cally sends and col­lects guest sur­veys after the guest has left the ho­tel. These in turn can be used to pro­mote the good rep­u­ta­tion across the web with the help of our tools. We see a clear trend among our users: around 50 per cent of all ho­tel re­views now use own guest sur­veys, and in APAC alone the num­ber of sur­veys has in­creased by 40 per cent from 2017 to 2018. Ad­di­tion­ally, the ho­tel does not do it­self a fa­vor by re­ly­ing on fake re­views. To­day’s on­line trav­eler reads re­views, checks the of­fers, com­pares ho­tels - they can­not be tricked eas­ily. In­stead of putting ef­fort into creat­ing fake re­views, ho­tels should in­vest into col­lect­ing and mar­ket their own re­views as this helps to im­prove their scores and rat­ings across the web.

If they are re­li­able, are they suf­fi­cient to con­sist a trend? At what point does the num­ber of ver­i­fi­able feed­back be­comes a trend? What other crtieria are ap­plied to feed­back be­fore they com­prise a trend? What is the science be­hind it?

Ab­so­lutely. We an­a­lyze re­views very closely, ev­ery­day, with hun­dreds of data points and us­ing a very highly-de­vel­oped se­man­tic anal­y­sis. We iden­tify trends in terms of which category im­pacts the score of a ho­tel most pos­i­tively and neg­a­tively. The more re­views a ho­tel has, the bet­ter we can an­a­lyze trends and give rec­om­men­da­tions. The ho­tel can eas­ily mon­i­tor, an­a­lyze and re­spond to re­views and, based on that, take mea­sures, tackle right in­vest­ments or im­prove op­er­a­tional pro­cesses based on their guests’ feed­back. Our anal­y­sis in­cludes 250+ ver­i­fied sources in 19 lan­guages, and ev­ery week we col­lect and an­a­lyze over three mil­lion trav­eler re­views, sur­veys, and so­cial posts from all across the web, for 500,000 ho­tels.

Ex­plain in sim­ple terms the TrustYou sys­tem. What are its ob­jec­tives and how do they pur­sue them? Name some rep­utable or­ga­ni­za­tions that rely on the TrustYou’s trends read­ing. What are some of the gen­uinely useful and re­li­able find­ings that have you gen­er­ated to date?

TrustYou has be­come an im­por­tant in­dus­try player in hos­pi­tal­ity in the past 10 years. We are now the all-in-one guest feed­back plat­form, cov­er­ing the en­tire guest jour­ney from search­ing from search and book­ing with its Re­view Mar­ket­ing mod­ule, to on-site and real-time com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Messaging, to post-stay re­views with Sur­veys and An­a­lyt­ics. We have shaped the in­dus­try with in­no­va­tions and vi­sions. Global part­ners like Google, Skyscan­ner, Kayak and many more rely on us, our data and our prod­ucts for many years. Ac­com­mo­da­tion providers such as Ac­corHo­tels, NH Ho­tels and in APAC, Pan Pa­cific, Shangri-La, Taj Ho­tels, Frasers Hos­pi­tal­ity, and many more base their cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence on our tool. Our goal is to be the best pos­si­ble provider for guest feed­back man­age­ment to help our part­ners grow their business, in­flu­ence, and above all, their guest ex­pe­ri­ence. We al­ways look out for trends, such as messaging in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try which we have in­tro­duced in 2016, and bring our part­ners and clients one step closer to the guest. We can prove that re­views will and are still in­creas­ing and with them, the in­flu­ence on book­ing de­ci­sions. Some im­por­tant facts of the year 2017: Num­ber of col­lected and an­a­lyzed re­views through our plat­form: 103 M (2016: 90 M)

Num­ber of TrustYou Sur­veys col­lected: 4.25 M (2016: 3.62 M)

Di­rect mes­sages sent through TrustYou’s plat­form: 1.5 M New prod­uct fea­tures re­leased: 95 Our main goal is to con­stantly im­prove and op­ti­mize our plat­form to a mod­ern hote­lier’s needs and pro­vide the best pos­si­ble ser­vice. Our next steps are to in­vest in AI to make even more sense of the bil­lions of data points we cap­ture and an­a­lyze each day. In the near fu­ture, our plat­form will make per­son­al­ized rec­om­men­da­tions how to im­prove, where to in­vest and how to re­spond - an au­topi­lot for guest feed­back. Ad­di­tion­ally, we work on a bet­ter and more per­son­al­ized trav­eler ex­pe­ri­ence that ho­tels can of­fer through our plat­form and we tackle new mar­kets and ex­pand our in­flu­ence in ex­ist­ing mar­kets, es­pe­cially in the APAC re­gion.

Our next steps are to in­vest in AI to make even more sense of the bil­lions of data points we cap­ture and an­a­lyze each day. In the near fu­ture, our plat­form will make per­son­al­ized rec­om­men­da­tions how to im­prove, where to in­vest and how to re­spond - an au­topi­lot for guest feed­back.

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