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Think about the moment when you first enter your hotel room. Look around: Does the room tell you anything unique about the hotel where you are staying? Or is it all beige walls and double beds with white covers, and you have to walk back outside and look at the sign on the hotel’s facade to even remember where you are?

Hotel guests commonly bring multiple devices with them during their stay. However, many hotel environments don’t provide easy access to charging outlets. This situation can lead to a guest feeling more than inconvenienced. A recent survey found almost 90 percent of people "felt panic" when their phone battery dropped to 20 percent or below.

Spam is one of the major problems that most hotel website owners face on regular basis. It is a bad practice used by spammers to persuade the page rank of a site.

GBTA recently partnered with AccorHotels to conduct a study investigating the role of loyalty in managed travel programs in Europe with the goal of understanding how loyalty programs currently fit within company travel policy and what opportunities may exist in the future.

People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 



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The Power of the Negative Review

12/18/2013

The hotel marketplace is rapidly evolving from price transparency, where the advent of the OTAs suddenly allowed consumers to easily compare all room rates in a market, to value transparency, where, along with price, consumers have ready access to user experiences with hotel stays in the form of reviews, ratings, rankings and images.  As this transition unfolds, nearly every hotel revenue manager I’ve spoken with in the last couple of years (and there have been many) has (smartly) asked some version of the same question: How should all of this user generated content impact pricing decisions for my hotel? 

My research partner, Breffni Noone, Associate Professor at The Pennsylvania State University and I set out to answer this question for the industry.  We have done several studies (and have more planned) to explore consumer buying behavior in this new social world.  For our first study, we developed a scenario similar to buying a hotel room online, in which we showed a hotel example with different combinations of price (low or high), review valence (positive or negative) and aggregate rating (low or high).  We tested how the different levels of these attributes, in combination, influenced our participants’ quality and value perceptions.  Our second study built on the first by getting at the way that how consumers make tradeoffs between different attributes.  We designed a choice experiment to test how much influence these attributes have on consumers’ likelihood to purchase a particular hotel.  We varied price, review valence (positive or negative), the content and language used in the review, known vs. unknown brand, TripAdvisor rank, and aggregate ratings in a set of three hotels, and asked people to choose the one they would book. 

We will present the results from both studies in detail in an upcoming issue of Hospitality Upgrade, along with more information on how we designed and executed the two studies.  As a teaser, I’ll preview some key findings here.  The two studies clearly demonstrated that reviews are king in consumers’ decision making process, followed by price.  While consumers do pay attention to ratings, TA ranking and brand, they use the valence of the review (positive or negative) as an indication of the quality and value of their purchase, and as a primary driver of choice.  This means that negative review will remove a hotel from the consumers’ choice set, regardless of the price. 

Many hoteliers want to know whether they can charge a premium for a property with good reviews.  Our study clearly demonstrated that consumers always preferred to pay the lowest price, all things being equal.  Consumers would choose a higher priced option with better reviews than the competition, but from the choice patterns, it seemed that this was more the result of NOT picking the poorly reviewed hotel because of the negative reviews, than a decision to pay more because of the positive reviews.  So, if you are definitely better than the competition, you have some additional pricing power, but if not, consumers will look at price also.  The best advice I can give to managers is that they must pay attention not only to their own reviews, but also to their review position relative to the competition, before making any strategic pricing decisions. 
  

About The Author
Kelly McGuire

SAS
Hospitality And Travel Global Practice


Kelly McGuire leads the Hospitality and Travel Global Practice for SAS.  In this role, she is responsible for driving the offering set and setting strategic direction for the practice. McGuire works with product management, sales, alliances and R&D to ensure that SAS solutions meet the needs of the market, and evangelizes the value of advanced analytics to the industries she serves.  She has a PhD in Revenue Management from The Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

 
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