A new report by Boston social media analytics company Crimson Hexagon slices and dices a ton of social media data to compare leading hotel brands.
Here are some key takeaways:
The three seasons of travel themes (for summer vacations, in the northern hemisphere):
- January-April: exploration - looking for itinerary and hotel suggestions, comparing reward programs
- May-September: experience - experiencing their vacations, critiquing and reviewing hotels
- October-December: evaluation - reevaluating rewards programs, applying for new credit cards (In 2016 this phase was driven by Marriott's acquisition of Starwood.)
Hotel service, both on property and over the phone, is the main driver of brand sentiment.
In hotel-related conversations on social media:
- Men talk mostly about reward programs and getting best bang-for-buck
- Women talk more about trip planning, and seeking recommendations for family-friendly hotels and restaurants.
- Men dominate conversations about hotel brands, because of their interest in rewards programs.
- Distribution of conversations about hotels across age groups is similar across brands, except that the 18-24 age group takes part in a disproportionately large share of conversations about Wyndham, because of low-priced properties (Days Inn, Super 8) and advertising targeting young people.
Conversations about hotels occur most frequently on FlyerTalk and Twitter.
Top topics of conversations by travelers:
- Hotel reviews
- Rewards, points and credit cards
Distribution of these conversations on FlyerTalk in CY2015:
- Hotel reviews: 56%
- Rewards, points, credit cards: 40%
- Breakfast: 3%
- Wi-fi: 1%
Conversations about comparing hotels most often involved Hyatt and Marriott.
Travelers use Twitter and forums in different ways (varying by brand) for conversations about hotels.
Travelers tend not to be able to keep straight which budget brands belong to which mother brand.
Hyatt had the largest share (35%) of conversations about rewards; Choice Hotels the lowest (12%).
Rewards members participated in more negative conversations (vs. positive conversations) across hotel brands. Typical gripes involved poor service, difficult booking, lack of member perks, not honoring points, etc.
Free breakfast is the #1 perk preferred by travelers. But a bad free breakfast causes many travelers to want to switch brand loyalty.
Travelers expect free Wi-Fi - but slow Internet was the biggest problem for hotel guests.
The 5 hotel styles used in the analysis (with share of conversations, and dominant brand):
- Luxury 20% - Marriott
- Lifestyle/Boutique 12% - Marriott
- Signature (business or casual leisure) 40% - Hilton
- Extended Stay 8% - Marriott
- Economy 20% - Wyndham
Extended Stay and Luxury hotels skew to an older demographic, economy to a younger.
Hotel recommendations and reviews generated most conversations, which in turn influenced decisions.
Park Hyatt and Ritz Carlton got kudos for overall service, nice rooms.
Distribution of conversations across hotel styles varied with geography: luxury mentions more common on east coast, etc.
Business-savvy people choose Marriott, techies prefer Hyatt.
Marriott luxury brands attract people interested in sports, Hyatt luxury brands draw foodies.
The 3 big ideas as expressed by Crimson Hexagon (paraphrase):
- Forums dominate travel discussions across social channels.
- Economy conversations are all about best rate; luxury conversations are more about heightening positive experiences.
- Rewards/points is at the forefront of all travel conversations, because of its interaction with the quality of the experience.