November 08, 2012

Hotels fail to get a grip on reality

The increasing use of online hotel review sites allows brands to see if their promises live up to customer expectations. A recent survey shows only two brands hit the spot.

The Premier Inn and Marriott hotel chains are the only two whose brand promise matches the reality of the stay. That’s according to a comparison of BDRC Continental’s annual British hotel guest survey, which surveys 2,000 business and leisure travellers in the UK, and online reputation tool PillowChat, which ranks brands by the positivity of their reviews.

Whitbread-owned Premier Inn does well because it realises that its glossy advertising starring Lenny Henry means that the customer experience must live up to what the ads portray. Matt Costin, a director at BDRC Continental, says: “Premier Inn has a clear marketing message, which it delivers effectively, and it actually delivers on the promise. It understands that if it is going to make a claim and put Lenny Henry on everyone’s television promising superb rooms, it actually has to live up to that. Marketing is an ethos rather than a gloss-over.”

A hotel brand’s reputation is a complex mix and it can be difficult to control individual elements. These might include how brands respond to online reviews, staff performance and what the customer expects from the brand, says Costin. “One of the reasons there is a difference in [brand perception and online review] rankings has a lot to do with how well a brand markets itself and gets its message across.

Get the full story at Marketing Week