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Estancia La Jolla Harnesses Value of Virtual Reviews
By Dave Gerdes, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing, Estancia/Destination Hotels & Resorts
The Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa (www.estancialajolla.com), a 26,000 square-foot Destination Hotels and Resorts property, is a nationally recognized meeting destination that sits adjacent to the University of California San Diego and the Torrey Pines Golf course in La Jolla, California. For some time, Estancia La Jolla's management team has been tracking the growing trend of traveler reviews and their wide use, and it has become obvious that vacationing guests and conference planners use online reviews to examine a hotel's service and value delivery. With this in mind, management soon realized that the hotel's reputation is built in the virtual world as well as in service contacts, and that failure to establish value will prevent business from materializing.
A world of automation
Although Estancia La Jolla knew reviews were read by a very large percentage of the traveling public, tracking them manually is difficult. In a busy hotel, it involves finding somebody with enough time to spend hours surfing the web weekly; someone who can visit each travel site to read reviews, print them, distribute them and follow up. That was the hotel's challenge; to stay informed of customer comments with enough time left to affect internal solutions and follow up with customers.
Hotel management encountered the Avalon BUZZ Report (www.avalonreport.com) at a local Web 2.0 seminar and quickly learned that they could search the most influential websites within minutes and receive a graphics driven report that displays (in pie charts and graphs) results for the hotel and its competitors. With this tool, Estancia La Jolla is able to check its guest reviews more frequently, provide feedback to operational departments and respond on sites more quickly. Management is also able to benchmark their service levels against their competitors, something that guests do all the time.
It's a very simple report to use and understand. There was no need to install software, and learning to read it takes a commitment of about 10 minutes. Using the web-based resources allows management to look at their virtual image, customer photos and videos, and read description screens from key web sites. It's a time saver, but it also enhances Estancia La Jolla's knowledge by making the information more readily accessible and allowing the property to see its competitive service score.
After Estancia La Jolla's successful trial and result, Destination Hotels and Resorts decided to adopt the Avalon BUZZ Report company-wide, and has completed a roll-out at 25 properties. The report simplifies what was once a complex and time-consuming landscape.
Hotel management now has ability to respond quickly to guest feedback, and can benchmark and set goals for its operations teams. These are differentiators that Estancia La Jolla believes will provide an advantage over those competitors that choose not to monitor guest feedback for lack of resources.
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