Why quality evaluation is changing

“How can you get authenticity if you’re only rewarding conformity?” 

– Mark Hoplamazian, CEO, Hyatt

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to participate in an industry summit of boutique hotel brands, managers and developers to discuss changes in quality evaluation.

Hospitality icon Chip Conley shared something that worked for him at Joie de Vivre and now Airbnb: creating a quick feedback loop of daily insights and market benchmarking to improve operational quality and earn loyalty, return visits and word-of-mouth referrals.

The changes happening in quality evaluation and improvement may be an under-appreciated aspect of the technology revolution happening now in hospitality, but they are among the most far-reaching. I’ve written before on how online guest review data is now guiding everything from investment strategy to star ratings organizations around the world.

We are seeing this for the following reasons:

1: Online reviews help you stay relevant

Traditional quality evaluation measures quality from a standard checklist of things that we as an industry think are important, like the availability of a concierge or room service. But what if some of these things don’t matter to travelers anymore?

On the other hand, online reviews indicate how well hotels exceeded guests’ expectations – expectations frequently set outside the industry by Amazon, Uber, Seamless and the like. Did we deliver an experience that will earn positive word of mouth, referrals and loyalty?

Evaluating success by a scorecard of our own creation risks blinding you to external, emerging competitive threats. Criteria for a great hotel experience need to be set by customers, not by us. Online review evaluation helps prevent missing what people want and need.

2: Online reviews help you stay competitive

Your guests live in a real-time world. Reviewing your performance annually isn’t enough in a rapidly changing marketplace. You need constant feedback on what’s working and what’s not so you can catch things before it’s too late.

Online, guests express whatever they want, providing constant feedback and insights for incremental improvement. What’s new this week? What needs action to improve the quality of our experience?

Online review data provides this objective, independent feedback each day.

3: Online review data shows trend lines

Online review data shows trend lines instead of the “snapshot” of a moment in time from a mystery shopping guest visit. Each guest rating, put together, shows important trends over time so you can understand the impact of changes you make.

Trend tracking, combined with frequent service and product adjustments, helps your organization continually improve.

4: Review (not just rating) analysis provides actionable details

Tracking online review ratings (e.g., 4/5 stars on TripAdvisor) provides a starting point, but a richer understanding of quality comes from processing thousands or tens of thousands of guest-written reviews for sentiment.

Sentiment revealed through semantic technology reveals specific areas for improvement in everything from the welcome reception to the linens on the bed to service provided by the staff and more.

5: Online review data can be trusted

Perhaps you agree that online review data provides you with objective, independent feedback each day – but you’re running a luxury hotel and wonder if it can be trusted, especially in the segment you operate within. 

ReviewPro’s analysis of 2.7 million online luxury hotel reviews a few months ago showed a high level of correlation between Global Review IndexTM rankings and lists from organizations such as Forbes Travel Guide.

Research like this shows online review data be trusted, and also is:

  • Available daily to help you stay competitive
  • Customer focused, not industry-defined
  • Able to provide detailed insights for improvement from real guests

The more guest experience insights you have, the better you can run your hotels. Prioritizing online review analysis will give your business a competitive advantage: tools your managers need to stay relevant to guests and prospective guests in a quickly changing world.