Up until now, TripAdvisor has unquestionably been the leader in hotel review sites. In fact, it gets more than 32 million visits a month. However, one of the challenges of being a category leader is keeping up with the smaller, more nimble competitors who are breaking innovation boundaries.
By taking a more personalized approach to influencing travelers, there are some new emerging players who have the potential to change the way we research our guest experiences.
For example, Raveable quantifies reviews that consumers have posted on TripAdvisor, and elsewhere, to pull out keywords and phrases from commentary. It will then give consumers a snapshot of opinions from a highly personalized text to help consumers avoid combing through a mountain of reviews.
Here’s what it hopes to do one day (and soon):
You’ve just arrived at the JW Marriott when your phone dings. The GPS has tracked your location, and now this message appears: “You’ll like the Marriott, especially if you get a city view. Ask for an odd-numbered room above the seventh floor. Cindy at the concierge desk will have the latest info on restaurants. But make sure your rate is under $200. For $209, you can get in at the Westin, which is seven blocks closer to tomorrow’s meeting.”
This peek into the near future would absolutely give guests an excellent “feel” for a hotel, which goes well beyond consumers making a decision based on price for a hotel.
Another new company to watch is Oyster, a website that resembles an online, real-time version of a guidebook, but has paid professional reviewers. The founders believe that travelers value expertise over the “advice” of consumers.
In addition, TravelPost, another online review site, was recently bought by Greg Slyngstad — who serves on the board of Kayak, and Rich Barton, who founded Expedia. The plan is to modify TravelPost into a hotel-rating tool that taps into social media. Consumers would be matched up with friends and acquaintances that have recently visited an interested destination – essentially a mix of Oyster and TripAdvisor.
With emerging next-generation of review sites, consumers are on the verge of yet even more personalization and information in the palm of their hands.
Hoteliers must be prepared to offer the latest technological advancements and provide a “frictionless guest experience” – from booking to checkout and beyond – to not only survive, but also beat the competition in all of these types of review sites.
The combination of improving reviews and loyalty, while implementing systems that decrease guest friction, will allow hoteliers to enhance their business models and be on the forefront of innovation.