By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
At HSMAI’s ROC 2019 event in June, six college and university faculty members from hotel schools across the U.S. and Canada presented research in areas related to revenue management in the hospitality industry. During one of the presentations, Chris K. Anderson, director of the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, discussed his original research on “Managing Customer Behavior With Post-Service Interactions,” which focuses on customers’ post-stay experiences.
As part of the project, Anderson and his colleague Saram Him looked through 400,000 online hotel reviews and more than a million surveys, focusing on aspects of social content and impacts on satisfaction and loyalty. In all, Anderson and Him looked at approximately 1.03 million surveys from 867,323 individuals staying at 515 hotels, booking approximately 3.05 million stays, and leading to 683,379 manager responses between January 2015 and December 2018.
The researchers examined the surveys for customer satisfaction, posting/sharing propensity, and participation/selection bias. Here are three of their findings:
1. Strongly biased: The research found that if it is left up to customers to post reviews online, those reviews are strongly biased, with many being negative. “People have different motivations for posting reviews,” Anderson said. “And those at the tails [strongly positive or strongly negative feelings] have more motivation to post reviews.”
2. Personalized apologies: The research also showed that when customers posted negative reviews or indicated a negative response in their survey, a personalized and detailed apology from the companies was the most effective service recovery. Research also found that a simple managerial response — not personalized — “increases the posting intension of online word-of-mouth reviews,” while the “satisfaction enhanced by a personalized apology reduces the posting intension of online word-of mouth reviews.” In other words, when a manager gives a simple response to a review, online reviews are less powerful and significant, and when a manager gives a personalized apology, the satisfaction of the reviewer enhances the online reviews, making them stronger and more significant.
3. Google vs. TripAdvisor: Anderson and Him also compared reviews coming from Google Reviews and TripAdvisor. They found that in general people are more likely to post to Google than TripAdvisor, but if hotels send out auto-responses to customers, encouraging them to review their stays, people are more likely to share their feedback on TripAdvisor.
Anderson and Him’s research is ongoing, including examining how the choice of channel and booking frequency is affected by satisfaction and managerial engagement.