Deciphering how to drive more direct business is a hot button topic within the hospitality industry. Naturally, ratings and reviews are also a top priority with hospitality companies trying different approaches to encourage consumers to book directly through their channels. Regardless of the approach, there is a broad understanding that online ratings and reviews are hugely important to how hotels do business in today’s market.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index StudySM, hotel guests who book through an online travel agency tend to be more price sensitive; have lower levels of satisfaction with their stay; are less loyal to hotel brands; and tend to report more problems, when compared with guests who book through the hotel website or call the hotel or hotel brand directly. That is encouraging news and it speaks directly to the need for hotel companies to create more avenues for the consumer to go straight to the source. Wyndham Hotel Group (www.wyndham.com) has decided to face this challenge head-on.
Wyndham has developed an industry-leading relationship with TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com), in which TripAdvisor reviews are integrated directly into all of the group’s websites. Now, should a customer want to read reviews about one of Wyndham’s hotels, they can do so without ever leaving the proprietary site.
Monitoring and managing feedback is key to REVPAR
Of course, better reviews translate into better results for the hotel, which means hotel owners need to play an active role in managing their online presence. With this in mind, Wyndham has given its franchisees tools to help them better manage not only rates and inventory, but their presence and reputation in the social media space as well. This tool, called WynReview, empowers property owners and managers to better understand and measure the social feedback that exists about their properties. It also enables owners to benchmark their hotels against their competitors and to be proactive in addressing any issues.
Because ratings and reviews are so important to a hotel’s performance, Wyndham Hotel Group is replacing its customer experience surveys with a new TripAdvisor/WynReview-based solution, which will drive validated reviews on both its own sites and TripAdvisor. This also helps ease the fears of some hotel owners, who question whether or not certain reviews come from legitimate guests. The goal of these efforts is to create a better overall experience for the consumer, which leads to increased direct bookings and ultimately higher revenues and better margins for franchisees.
What was your first job?
I had a summer job as a laborer for an industrial heating engineering company. It was good, hard, honest work that taught me the value of money.
What technologies excite you?
I have long been excited about the convergence of multiple devices into one. The iPhone did this and there is so much more possible with the use of speech and hand writing technology as well as the evolution of the actual device itself.
A leader’s job is to affect change and get their team to execute. This industry needs strong leadership in order to constantly evolve or it will be intermediated by organizations it wouldn’t need if it kept up with the pace of change.
What is one other job that you would like to try?
I would like to lead the Scottish Tourism Board. I would like to make a big impact on my homeland, Scotland, and use what I’ve learned in the travel industry to help Scotland get more and broader tourism.
What is one goal that you would like to achieve in your life?
Of course I have career and charity goals, but those must be in addition to being a great dad and husband. So, if I can only pick -- to be a great dad and husband it is.
What three people would you invite to lunch?
Queen Elizabeth II, Stephen Fry and my Dad.
Gareth Gaston is senior vice president of global eCommerce at the Wyndham Hotel Group.