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What does customer care mean, and how/when do you focus on it? The answers are: always, and by applying social listening. Let’s use the NetBase Travel And Hospitality Industry Best Practices Guide 2018 to illustrate.

The Trouble with Travel

Hospitality is a particularly tricky industry. Travel offers a host of challenges, from anxiety to frustration, as travelers deal with a variety of issues, even in the best of circumstances.

Once at their destination, the best case scenario still means people are away from home, with the expectation of being well taken-care-of.

Now add in items from the worst-case list, like lost luggage, illness, booking errors, etc. Hospitality brands have a lot to manage to keep consumers happy against less than favorable odds.

When such situations occur, customer care teams spring into action – and rightly so. Customer complaints must always be dealt with swiftly – but that urgency is increased for customers away from home, be it for business or pleasure.

The best approach is to solve problems at their root, so there are fewer in-the-moment debacles as possible. This is where social listening comes in.

Social listening puts you in touch with traveler issues on a grand scale – so you can identify gaps in your customer experience through trends in social conversation. This lets you stop problems from occurring in the first place, but also creates opportunities to wow travelers with extras they crave.

Look for the Love – and Lack Thereof

So how exactly do you do that?

Start by looking at sentiment around your brand. What do consumers feel about what you have to offer – and what specific attributes are mentioned relevant to those emotions?

For example, though the Marriott hotel brand has a lot of positive sentiment for the Fitness & Exercise and Food & Drink options, sentiment on the attribute “value” reveals some negativity.

Looking past the obvious complaint about the brand being expensive, we see some other areas they can certainly work on:

The term “change” references point devaluations with some properties “changing” to a higher hotel category as a result of Marriott’s merger with SPG.

Terms like “stop robo-calling promotion” and “unwanted marketing call” refer to automated Vacation Club promotions consumers just don’t like.

Given that Marriott is beating its two biggest competitors – Hilton and Hyatt – in the areas of personalization and innovation, this impersonal tactic should be rethought.

Look Beyond Your Brand

Consumers now value experiences over products – which is a huge advantage for hospitality brands, where the experience is the product.

Brands in this industry can’t stop at the obvious – they must look further, to adjacent spaces impacting their industry, and traveler sentiment about these adjacent spaces.

For example, wellness and fitness are huge topics of conversation hospitality brands can leverage. The key is to look at both the categories of wellness and fitness for trends, and also at the audience of wellness/fitness enthusiasts to understand what they actually want.

What matters most while traveling? Access to a gym – or someone to actually train with? Is healthful food enough, or are there specific options you need to offer, like a keto diet?

These insights position you to wow your customers when you put them into action. Read the full best practices guide to see how the Westin is killing their customer experience in just this way.

Make Your Experience Shareable

Because social is the first stop for many travelers when sharing stories of things gone wrong, it’s important to give them a reason to share when things go right. That means creating a memorable experience they can’t help but talk about.

Hertz made a conscious effort to do this, and it’s working for them. Instead of posting about boring basics – like wait times, bookings, and charges, as competitor Avis’ customers do – Hertz’ customer posts are centered on shared passion and #wanderlust.

They highlight the emotions Hertz’ experience evokes, and that’s much more compelling to other travelers.

At the same time, Hertz has made changes to how quickly they respond to and resolve social complaints. And the major uptick in sentiment since implementing these changes shows it’s succeeding.

Whatever your brand, it’s important to look at customer care as an ongoing endeavor, but for hospitality brands it’s especially critical. Use social listening to know what matters at each touch point, and you’ll be able to ensure your customers always feel at home.

For more, download the full report, NetBase Travel And Hospitality Industry Best Practices Guide 2018, or reach out for a personalized demo of our social listening tools.

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