The information economy provides many opportunities to companies in the hospitality industry, especially in the realm of customer understanding.
Yet many travel companies neglect the avenues provided by review sharing sites and apps like Tripadvisor and Skyscanner. The fact of the matter is that, whether you like it or not, these entities are transforming the way hotels, airlines, and travel firms market to their customers.
Did you know nearly all customers, a whopping 90%, read reviews before purchasing items? And a similarly substantial 86% will hesitate before buying any item with negative reviews. This review share platforms can really make or break a product or service. In the travel industry, things are no different. Reviews are huge, especially in competitive markets.
How to Use Reviews to bolster Customer Understanding
Certain review companies such as Feefo match up review data to airline customer information to create more in-depth analytics for travel companies.
Review sites provide customers an opportunity to freely share their opinions and feedback. This unstructured data can be used to understand what is really important to customers, rather than relying on questions that may steer them in one direction or another.
It is important to remember that not feedback is submitted through formal channels such as Tripadvisor or a travel company survey. Customers can share stories, anecdotes, reviews, complaints, and praise across a number of channels. Some of this will be in person or through email, making it inaccessible. But feedback is also frequently shared using social media, even including forums and message boards.
This means that companies should know where to look, based on their service and industry, to get a sense of what the public thinks about them. This can create tremendous opportunity for improvement. A good example is a place like airlinequality.com, which features content over 400 airlines across the globe. Looking through these reviews allows all airlines to get a feel for what customers expect from different tiers of carriers. Certainly expectations for budget airlines will differ from those for the major flagship carriers. Reading through all the user content will help executives to figure out what customers want in their particular niche so that targeted improvements can be pursued.
Basic data scraping is not a new strategy. Marketers have been using this technique to gather customer intelligence for years. However, as data analytics technology advances, it has gotten easier to more effectively extract even unstructured qualitative information from review sites in a systematic way. These technologies can be deployed to commentary posted across different social media channels.
This information can then be paired with other sources of information to create more detailed narratives about the customer experience. Airlines use this method to understand how the customer experience is trending for their particular company.
The most valuable information is that which can inform decision making. By understanding the customer experience better, executives can make important strategic decisions that actually enhance satisfaction and promote brand confidence. Even an imperfect airline can inspire confidence by actively listening and improving based on their customers’ priorities.
The more review sites that exist, and the more forums and channels that allow customers to speak their minds, the more information you ultimately receive. Yes, this is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the louder the customers’ voice, the urgency you face in appeasing them. On the other hand, the more you actually know and understand about your customer, the better job you will do at improving your service. This allows an airline to build up goodwill, loyal customers, and drive up profits as well.