Four Elements that Drive RelevanceThe top hotel brands in the analysis displayed highly positive overall Conversational Relevance™ scores based on positive/negative buzz differential, with Hilton earning a 58 percent score followed by Marriott (56 percent) and Four Seasons (51 percent).
The analysis dug much deeper, however, looking at each of the 10 brands' attributes through Brodeur's four relevance pathways:
- Functional – Practical attributes people care about like service, location, rooms, recreation and rewards programs. Comments in this area dominated the conversation about hotels. Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton were the winners here.
- Sensory – Attributes that appeal to all five senses like the view and water pressure in the shower (which surprisingly eclipses bed comfort in online attention). Ritz- Carlton and Hilton led the category.
- Values – Attributes that reflect personal values such as the hotel's service ethic and commitment to indulging patrons. Four Seasons dominated.
- Social – Attributes related to customer status, such as the brand's cachet. Four Seasons dominated here, too.
The analysis further broke down results between leisure and business travelers. Room cleanliness, for example, means more to business travelers than leisure travelers. It's the other way around for recreation.
Leisure travelers were broken down further still, between those traveling with children and those without. The
Ritz-Carlton was particularly popular in conversations in the former category, and recreation was paramount for families.
Key findingsThe Conversational Relevance analysis was able to specifically identify strengths that some brands could leverage and weaknesses that held other brands back. In addition, it identified a framework that all hotels can use in managing their online and social communications:
- Service and location are the biggest "functional" conversation drivers.
- Accessibility – both to the hotel and nearby amenities – drives nearly two-thirds of online conversations about the "functional" attributes of a hotel.
- When it comes to conversations about rooms, size matters, closely followed by connectivity and technology.
- While there has been a lot of investment by hotels in the quality of beds, the subject that most people talked about in the "touch" or "feel" category was the shower, specifically the water pressure of the shower.
- Room noise was a hot topic in the " sound" category, particularly among family travelers. Most of that conversation was negative.
- People talked about the "values" of a brand in terms of what kind of service they received, i.e., having a "service first" culture and being responsive. A particularly important element that drove online conversation was a hotel staff's responsiveness and personal attention to individual needs.
- The biggest driver of social conversations is whether a hotel is " referenceable" – that is, something travelers would recommend to others.
- That a hotel's "luxury" or "indulgence" is a symbol of status and achievement drove a considerable amount of conversation among business and leisure travelers; however one-third of that discussion was negative.
- By far the biggest driver of conversation among business travelers is whether a hotel is considered " best in class." Social relevance for leisure travelers derives more from peer reviews.