Best Western Checks In on Customer Feedback

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Customer Experience
Customer Experience
By integrating customer insight from social review sites, the hotel chain has developed an engagement strategy that values transparency and cultivates trust.
Gold: Social and Mobile Engagement

Business Boost: More than 1,200 Best Western hotels across the nation have received TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence, an honor bestowed upon only 10 percent of hotels listed on the site.

For Best Western, social review sites have opened the door to a world of honest insight and the customer experience. In the hospitality industry, review sites such as TripAdvisor provide travelers with a way to assess their booking decisions, with 72 percent of consumers claiming they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But, because 35 percent of travelers have admitted to changing their hotel reservations after reading online reviews, Best Western took it upon itself to manage its online reputation and improve their customer care services.

Using Medallia's Social Feedback for Hospitality platform, Best Western now enables managers of its 4,200 locations worldwide to respond to customer concerns and reviews while keeping a consistent brand voice. The dashboard solution provides hotel managers with the ability to reply to customer feedback right from within the program. Each hotel has the opportunity to observe the social chatter for Best Western hotels in general, as well as collect targeted feedback that pertains to their location specifically. Notifications appear in real time, allowing these managers to care for issues publicly and swiftly. Even further, hotel managers can customize their dashboards to display the social chatter for their competitors far and wide.

"The biggest opportunity for our hotels comes from the chance to truly understand not only what the consumer says about them, but also what they're saying about their competitors," says Michael Morton, vice president of member services at Best Western. "Because social feedback is public knowledge, we can not only see how we stack up on all these review sites, but also see how we stack up against our competitors. We can understand where we excel, where we can improve, and aggressively market these advantages to consumers who are still in the decision-making stage of the hotel booking process."

Acknowledging issues and solving problems via social review sites adds a level of transparency, but the immediacy of these responses convey that Best Western listens to and cares for its customers by using their feedback to make improvements. The hotel chain views social media as a customer experience management opportunity, allowing the company to listen to both solicited and unsolicited feedback to establish a holistic view of the customer experience. And, with 1.3 million solicited surveys and nearly 150,000 social reviews collected each year, Best Western has ample opportunity to understand an array of opinions.

To boost its transparency, Best Western has even incorporated TripAdvisor reviews alongside its booking pages to keep potential customers on the site. Best Western wants to encourage users to embrace its site as an accessible channel. Frequently, customers will return to the review sites to consult their fellow travelers. The hotel chain also wants to hook customers when they land on the site so they will quickly decide to book with Best Western before they begin to wander. Integrating the TripAdvisor reviews alongside booking options provides customers with the information they seek, while enhancing the company's transparency. By voluntarily highlighting customer reviews, Best Western displays confidence in its brand because they need not sugarcoat anything their customers say. This also fosters active, engaging communities that cultivate relationships and honest, consistent feedback.

Since implementation, 69 percent of Best Western's hotel managers have adopted the social dashboard platform-the highest rate in the industry, and more than twice the industry average (32 percent) according to TripAdvisor. Active Best Western properties have seen 64 percent more reviews than their inactive counterparts, and a 30 percent higher ranking on TripAdvisor. This higher ranking inevitably becomes crucial to any given hotel's success, as higher rankings on TripAdvisor mean greater visibility on the review site. In fact, these higher rankings have led to 1,252 Best Western hotels receiving TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence, which is bestowed upon only 10 percent of hotels listed on-site. Due to such success, many property managers and executives are making moves to mandate social engagement across the brand.

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EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION