by Marissa Trew,
Following its acquisition in June last year by Recruit Holdings Co Ltd, TrustYou has stepped up its expansion in Asia Pacific with the appointment of Alex Tan as managing director, who will oversee development in key Asia markets (excluding Japan and Korea), as well as New Zealand and Australia.
In January, the company, founded in 2008 as an aggregator of customer review data to give people a bird’s eye view of which hotels rank best across different sites, streamlined all of its offerings into one integrated platform, accessible via a single login.
TrustYou, which now collects and analyses reviews every year for over half a million hotels worldwide, has also introduced new technologies designed to help business achieve higher ROIs, says Tan.
Founded in Germany, it now has four other global headquarters – Romania, United States, Singapore, and Japan.
“[Client hotels] have a dashboard showing their score, which is important because it gives them an overall view and rating. From there, you can drill down and find out what makes that score… what are the positives, negatives and neutral points? From there, you can drill down even further… to individual responses and feedback left by customers,” Tan explained in a recent interview.
With this level of depth, hotels are able to estimate what impact particular changes might have on their overall customer satisfaction scores. It could help hotels understand what changes should be prioritised as they can identify which recurring themes occur across guest feedback data.
The overall score is calculated over a period of 24 months, and the latest 6 months carry a heavier rating. The dashboard includes a wealth of information, including: a measure of the sustainability of overall scores, how hotels performed with their latest guests, the number of responses, how they rank in popularity against neighbouring hotels of the same calibre, and more.
There are also guest “sentiments” which are essentially more elaborate, written comments and remarks left by guests. The TrustYou system picks up various buzzwords that allude to how good or bad something is, and variables like food, security, bedding, etc., to identify common threads and recurring themes in the data.
Then a team of analysts comb through these responses to ensure insights provided by the data are as accurate as possible. “Our sentiments are about 97% accurate, which is the highest in the industry,” said Tan. From this, hoteliers can readily identify where they are doing well or where they are performing poorly.
Using data to accelerate change
Even with a wealth of data in an age of information, arguably, hotel companies are notoriously hesitant or slow to change, even on a small scale. So how can a data-driven company like TrustYou influence that?
“I think one of the reasons why hotels are slow in reacting [to change], is because they don’t have enough data to make that decision,” said Tan. “Every time you sit in a meeting, you’ll always talk about ‘should we do it/not do it?’ because there isn’t enough data.”
For example, if 70% of customers complain about the exact same thing, hotels can be quite sure that simply changing that one factor would dramatically help their business.
However, Tan warns that even with data insights, many hotels can underestimate the significance of particular types of feedback. There is a risk that they sweep recurring complaints under a rug without truly realising its overall impact on the business. A system like TrustYou is designed to clearly illustrate to hotels which factors are having the biggest impression on guest experience and therefore which ones to pay the most attention to.
Tan recounted how a hotel general manager commonly received complaints about mattress quality, which he ignored. Though, once he saw the data insights provided by TrustYou, it showed the issue to be far more than a petty “Princess and the Pea” ordeal. Once he could show hotel owners that the mattress was an issue across multiple guests with verifiable data, it helped the hotel’s management to justify expenditure on new bedding in the following budget.
Inevitably, there are factors that hotels cannot directly change, like if they have a relatively poor location compared to others. Tan says it’s then simply a matter of managing guest expectations, even before a booking is made, so guests are not disappointed from the moment they arrive.
However, it also creates an opportunity for hotels to think creatively around the problem. For example, beyond just managing expectations, it could offer additional services to compensate for its shortcomings, like a complimentary shuttle bus to key destinations.
Giving hotel websites a makeover
But even if a hotel ranks generally well amongst its guests, with only a few minor complaints here and there, how can a system like TrustYou help to foster more direct bookings? It is still an issue for hotels as prospective travellers continue to research and book accommodation through OTAs.
“Sometimes we book through OTAs because they have all the widgets and snippets of how good the service is or the food at the restaurant… I read it, feel confident, and book. Unfortunately not many hotels’ brand websites provide that kind of information. TrustYou’s solution includes that so hotels can include the same information on their website to give bookers a lot more confidence, which can help boost conversion.”
Hotels are able to choose what information they want to display, so they can focus on one or two items that they want to make known. It is also largely down to the user experience of hotel websites themselves and whether it can hold up to the same level as OTAs whose sites are designed for instant bookability.
Tan says that fortunately now, it’s easier for hotels to include similar features on their own site, but they must do it to achieve the same effect. To help with this TrustYou has developed multiple features that can be directly integrated onto hotel brand websites.
Including hotel review scores on their website would not only help provide all the information a traveller might seek when making booking decisions, but can add SEO value to a page too. This would help hotels increase visibility on search engines, giving them more opportunities to drive direct bookings.
By also integrating TrustYou widgets on websites, hotels can also activate a feature called “Rich Snippets” that show up below the title and URL in Google’s search results, helping hotels direct more traffic to their own sites from the moment a traveller enters their search.
TrustYou has also recently launched a messenger app and live chat function, so guests can interact with hotel staff through their preferred channels throughout their stay. By keeping opportunities to take on feedback at all time, it gives hotels the chance to react to negative feedback or complaints instantly, rather than waiting until they receive a poor customer review.
When it comes to fostering loyalty, Tan believes a little can go a long way. TrustYou also actively encourages responding to negative feedback in particular. “If I leave feedback,” Tan says, “I expect you to respond.” Responding helps guests feel that their opinions were heard and valued by the hotel. If their complaints are addressed effectively,
Farther down the pipeline, TrustYou plans to invest more heavily into AI to make far more sense of the billions of data points it captures and analyses every day. In the not so distant future, the platform aims to provide personalised recommendations to their clients on how to improve, where to invest and how best to respond to guest feedback.
Image credit: Getty images