Different Priorities

April 1st, 2017 Sections: Tourism
What are the Top 5 hotel experiences guests talk about on social media?

What are the Top 5 hotel experiences guests talk about on social media?

Every now and again we see a review in the trade press of what guests look for when selecting a hotel.

Price, of course, is a major criteria, and a potential deal maker or deal breaker … but they also look for other things – for example, location.  According to the estate agent, (realtor), this is a crucial question (… so much so that they have a mantra: “Location, location, location”): City Center, versus Beach side, versus proximity to major sights or facilities (such as conference center) and so on.

These days, apparently, wi-fi for internet access (fast, reliable and free) is a prerequisite … and I see that, last year, the United Nations declared this as, not just a desirable feature for modern living … but as a Basic Human Right (!).

The question as to whether meals – especially Breakfast – are included in the package … and although some hotels still offer this as an optional extra so that guests pay only for what they use, (like on a budget airline, where the ticket price doesn’t include meals and drinks … so if the traveler doesn’t want it, they don’t have to pay for it and saves on the cost), most people seem to think of Breakfast as the most important meal of the day and expect it to be included.

Important to some individuals, is the presence of specific facilities such as a gym or sauna, or swimming pool.

Usually, these articles are the result of a survey held among travellers … maybe conducted by interview; or explored in focus groups; or perhaps a questionnaire is published in a magazine, sent out by email or posted on-line and the responses then analysed.

This week, I came across a report of a different form of survey … conducted by looking at reviews posted by travelers on-line.

They scanned posts on social media,during January and February this year … although it wasn’t clear to me if they were limited to comments that had been posted in these two months or also included older posts.

By ‘social media’, they say ‘Facebook, Twitter and Instagram‘, so there were many other platforms not covered … including specialist review sites (such as Trip Advisor or the review pages of the booking portal used for making reservations).

Although it wasn’t reported how many comments they reviewed, it was obviously more than 11700 (the largest statistic they quote) – so it was quite a sizable survey – and covered almost 300 ‘luxury hotels’ in what they say were ‘major cities and destinations across North America, Asia and Australia’.  (So, Europe wasn’t covered … and I wondered if Asia included us here in Kyrgyzstan).

The report also didn’t say if there was any analysis of the nature of the comments – positive praise or otherwise, (for example, criticism or complaints).  That might have been interesting.

Of course, traditional surveys, review sites and social media posts all serve different purposes … but it was interesting to note the range and nature of the comments as revealed in the survey.  What was particularly interesting, for example, was that the five top topics commented on were:

  1. Food – Restaurant and meals – featured in 11,700 posts
  2. Drinks and the bar – mentioned in some 6,400 posts
  3. The view from the guest room– appearing in some 4,000 posts (… oddly enough, this rarely ever features in requests that we receive)
  4. Key features of the room – including the condition (I presume that covers things like the available facilities – such as TV and Minibar; the availability of non-smoking rooms; the decor and furniture; cleanliness) – occuring in 3,000 posts
  5. The hotel swimming pool – which attracted comment in some 2,800 posts … although the Gym was mentioned only about 300 times

Apparently, the standard discriminators, (price, location and ‘basic’ facilities such as the availability of good wi-fi coverage) were not seen as major issues for comment.

I suppose that may simply be a feature of the fact that it is an analysis of social media posts … the purpose of such comments posted being to keep in touch with relatives, friends and acquaintances … not to provide information for the industry in response to targeted and (hopefully) well structured questions or comments to inform other travellers of the relative merits and attractions, (or otherwise), of a property in which they have stayed.

As such, they concentrate more on experiences rather than more mundane features.

Having said that, it was surprising that so few comments were noted on the quality of service, (which, apparently, was mentioned only 800 times), especially in the critical, initial, experience of arrival and checking in.

Even so, it was an interesting and thought provoking report and sent me back racking through my brain to see what posts I had seen on these three platforms.


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