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Social Media: Is it an Accurate Measure of Guest Satisfaction?

Hotel customer feedback based on social media is inaccurate when compared to statistically significant survey research, according to an analysis by Market Metrix.  Among the findings: online reviews from Trip Advisor are skewed toward the negative. There were nearly 300 percent more negative responses (one- and two-star ratings) when compared to survey research and positive responses (five-star ratings) were underrepresented by 35 percent. 

Market Metrix believes that social media data is questionable for several reasons. First, the pressure to have positive online reviews has created a market for “promotional reviews,” where bogus feedback is bought and sold. A recent third-party study concluded that as many as 15 percent of online reviews will be paid for by 2014. Other estimates go much further putting the frequency of fake reviews as high as 30-40 percent. 
Second, the number of reviews produced for a given property on social media is low. An aggregate view of the top 10 review sites produces an average of only about 15 reviews per property per year, not enough data to represent a clear and balanced picture of the customer experience, according to Market Metrix’s researchers. 
Finally, only 56 percent of the U.S. population participates in social media. For adults over 50, the number falls to just 20 percent. Although social media participation may be strong with younger demographics, the large majority of older adults – the biggest hospitality spenders -- aren’t posting reviews.
The best way to manage online reputation is to prevent negative reviews in the first place. The time to fix a problem is when it occurs, not when it’s already been posted to the world.  Real-time feedback programs can help solve problems and recover guest loyalty before the guest leaves. This is a critical point, according to Market Metrix because unresolved problems drive down guest loyalty by an average of 56 percent.

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