SOCi Inc. today – in line with the holiday travel season – released a comprehensive review and ranking of the leading hotel brands in the U.S. based on their local visibility score for reputation score. Each reputation score was carefully calculated based on five key parameters, evaluating overall hotel location performance across top social and business listings platforms: Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
SOCi analyzed velocity, the rate of new reviews each month and whether it was increasing or decreasing; volume, the average number of reviews per location, tracking upward or downward trends; variety, the mix of positive and negative reviews; response, how quickly and how often a company responds to positive and negative reviews; and ratings: the average score a company receives on each platform across all locations. In total, SOCi analyzed over 100 signals measuring local visibility performance and engagement, including reviews, questions, and rankings across online listings for thousands of hotel locations.
"In an industry as customer-centric as hospitality, satisfaction and referrals hold paramount importance," said Monica Ho, CMO of SOCi. "The digital footprint of a hotel is increasingly becoming the cornerstone of decision-making for travelers."
Key takeaways from the ranking include:
- Both Hyatt and Hilton Garden Inn clinched the top spot with a score of 69 out of 100 possible points. Close behind the top spot were Marriott and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, each scoring 68.
- The bottom three were Baymont by Wyndham (44), Econo Lodge (33), and Super 8 (39).
- The average score for the hotel brands in the study was around 59, indicating potential for improvement in local reputation management.
The analysis applied rigorous selection criteria, considering only chains with hundreds or thousands of locations, leading annual sales figures, broad geographic or global presence, strong brand recognition, and a track record of success over time.
Additional findings from SOCi’s analysis include:
- Dominance of Upper Echelon: The mean score for premium hotel chains like Hyatt, Hilton Garden Inn, InterContinental, Marriott, and Westin is 67.4. These hotels have posted high scores (within the 68 to 69 range), underscoring their dedication to superior service and potent online reputation management.
- Struggles in the Value Segment: The mean score for value segment hotels, namely Super 8, Econo Lodge, Motel 6, and Days Inn, stands at 45.5. This score, contrasted with the premium hotels' average of 67.4, indicates a significant difference. It suggests that economy brands in the value segment have difficulties in effectively managing their local reputation when compared to their premium counterparts.
- Mixed Performance of Wyndham: The Wyndham group presents varied results across its brands. La Quinta by Wyndham posts a somewhat respectable score of 56, while Wyndham Hotels & Resorts and Baymont by Wyndham trail with scores of 55 and 44 respectively. Within the Wyndham group, Motel 6 and Days Inn, both categorized in the value segment, scored 52 and 41, respectively. This discrepancy within the same group underscores the necessity of bespoke local visibility management strategies for diverse brands.
- Performance of Midscale Chains: Midscale chains, exemplified by Holiday Inn Express, Radisson, and Comfort Inn & Suites, have achieved decent scores, ranging from the mid-sixties to the low fifties. This implies that these brands, in addition to certain premium chains, have exerted efforts to manage their local reputation successfully, eliciting positive customer feedback.
- Improvement Opportunities: A noticeable gap exists between the top-rated premium hotel chains (average score of 67.4) and the lower-ranked chains in the value segment (average score of 45.5). This substantial gap reveals a considerable opportunity for improvement among value segment chains like Super 8, Econo Lodge, Motel 6, and Days Inn. They should work to enhance their local reputation management strategies and practices.
“In our analysis, we found that hotel brands with lower scores often fall into the ‘ghosting’ trap, ignoring local feedback, and thereby eroding their digital reputations,” said Ho. “Tackling the issue of ghosting could be a game-changer for value segment hotels, in particular, offering them a chance to elevate their scores and stand out in an otherwise commoditized sector. At the end of the day, engaging with customers online and addressing their concerns promptly isn't just a reputation management strategy – it's a way to differentiate from the competition and build lasting relationships."
The overall average reputation score for hotel chains can provide a benchmark for individual hotels to aim for in their local visibility management efforts. With the highest-scoring hotels nearing the 70 mark, there's clear evidence that local visibility is achievable within this industry.
The results of this analysis highlight the substantial role online reputation plays in bolstering local visibility for hotel chains. In the era of digital booking and online reviews, maintaining a strong online presence and proactively engaging with customers can significantly enhance a hotel brand's local visibility and competitiveness in the industry.
"Local visibility and online reputation are inextricably linked," added Ho. "Our research underscores that a hotel chain's proactive and positive engagement with its online audience directly contributes to heightened local visibility and ultimately, operational success. Hotel brands that understand and leverage this connection gain a significant competitive advantage. They not only showcase their dedication to their guests but also expand their reach within their local markets."
To further explore how online reputation impacts local visibility, and to understand the strategies adopted by high-performing hotel chains, visit the interactive LVI dashboard or download the "The High Cost of Invisibility for Multi-Location Enterprises."