When Numbers Don't Lie

by Victor Chen
Photography by Chino Sardea
25 Sep 2018

Major shifts in travel industry have seen more people traveling, generating feedback and comparing information. As the figures triple and quadruple - from number of travelers to operators in the hospitality sector and information generated between them - an efficient and reliable way of managing data becomes even more important

Guest feedback has become an important tool for hospitality companies to keep on top of their game. The days of registering a discreet, personal complaint to the manager with a letter are over. More people are traveling today, many of them vocal about their experience as guests, and aren’t shy about turning to social media to air them. Ignoring what customers are saying – good, bad or neutral – can be a costly mistake.

One company, TrustYou, has been making a headway in aggregating large volume client feedbacks, analysing the data, and delivering them to clients in the travel and hospitality sectors as conveniently packaged actionable insights. Founded in 2008 in Germany, TrustYou’s products are trusted and used worldwide by suppliers – hotels, accommodations, and restaurants – for an array of reputation management purposes and by intermediaries – OTAs, meta-search, destination marketers – to help travelers purchase wisely.

TrustYou claims to draw its data from over 230,000 travel reviews a month. The staggering figure comes from various sources, and the company transforms this content for over half a million hotels, cutting down tedious groundwork, and enabling travel sites to fine-tune their trip planning processes and hotels to offer the best experience to their guests.

The company’s goal is to enable hotels and destinations to provide travelers with better services and enhanced offerings by monitoring, surveying and acting on trusted feedback of their guests. This also helps intermediaries improve travelers’ search-shop-buy experiences by providing structured data like meta reviews.

In a conversation with Portfolio, Managing Director Mr. Alex Tan explains how the system works.

Is guest feedback reliable? Why? Can’t they be generated by an enterprising hotel owner, an unscrupulous yet well-paid marketing company, and an army of trolls?

Yes, feedback is reliable. Firstly, the vast majority of online portals have implemented many measures to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of reviews.

Secondly, a high number of reviews is coming from travel sites such as Booking.com, Agoda and Expedia, where reviews are collected from travelers after they have stayed with the accommodation.

Thirdly, it is becoming a very common practice that hotels collect their own reviews through software like TrustYou Survey, which automatically sends and collects guest surveys after the guest has left the hotel. These in turn can be used to promote the good reputation across the web with the help of our tools.

We see a clear trend among our users: around 50 per cent of all hotel reviews now use own guest surveys, and in APAC alone the number of surveys has increased by 40 per cent from 2017 to 2018.

Additionally, the hotel does not do itself a favor by relying on fake reviews. Today’s online traveler reads reviews, checks the offers, compares hotels - they cannot be tricked easily. Instead of putting effort into creating fake reviews, hotels should invest into collecting and market their own reviews as this helps to improve their scores and ratings across the web.

If they are reliable, are they sufficient to consist a trend? At what point does the number of verifiable feedback becomes a trend? What other crtieria are applied to feedback before they comprise a trend? What is the science behind it?

Absolutely. We analyze reviews very closely, everyday, with hundreds of data points and using a very highly-developed semantic analysis. We identify trends in terms of which category impacts the score of a hotel most positively and negatively. The more reviews a hotel has, the better we can analyze trends and give recommendations. The hotel can easily monitor, analyze and respond to reviews and, based on that, take measures, tackle right investments or improve operational processes based on their guests’ feedback.

Our analysis includes 250+ verified sources in 19 languages, and every week we collect and analyze over three million traveler reviews, surveys, and social posts from all across the web, for 500,000 hotels.

Explain in simple terms the TrustYou system. What are its objectives and how do they pursue them? Name some reputable organizations that rely on the TrustYou’s trends reading. What are some of the genuinely useful and reliable findings that have you generated to date?

TrustYou has become an important industry player in hospitality in the past 10 years. We are now the all-in-one guest feedback platform, covering the entire guest journey from searching from search and booking with its Review Marketing module, to on-site and real-time communication with Messaging, to post-stay reviews with Surveys and Analytics. We have shaped the industry with innovations and visions.

Global partners like Google, Skyscanner, Kayak and many more rely on us, our data and our products for many years. Accommodation providers such as AccorHotels, NH Hotels and in APAC, Pan Pacific, Shangri-La, Taj Hotels, Frasers Hospitality, and many more base their customer experience on our tool.

Our goal is to be the best possible provider for guest feedback management to help our partners grow their business, influence, and above all, their guest experience. We always look out for trends, such as messaging in the hospitality industry which we have introduced in 2016, and bring our partners and clients one step closer to the guest. We can prove that reviews will and are still increasing and with them, the influence on booking decisions.

Our next steps are to invest in AI to make even more sense of the billions of data points we capture and analyze each day. In the near future, our platform will make personalized recommendations how to improve, where to invest and how to respond - an autopilot for guest feedback. Additionally, we work on a better and more personalized traveler experience that hotels can offer through our platform and we tackle new markets and expand our influence in existing markets, especially in the APAC region.