Monday, May 16, 2011

Revinate Sessions - talking social media monitoring with Revinates Michelle Wohl

In my annual predictions I called 2011 as the year in which social goes from an internet media platform to a core part of retail decision making through becoming part of the revolution in search and discovery.

I have published a series of posts around this theme. I published 5 tips for suppliers looking for an online social media strategy (via Tnooz), the role that social and other factors will play in the future of the Google search algorithm (also via Tnooz) and a PhoCusWright Innovation Summit piece on competition between start-ups Revinate and Trustyou to help companies search and monitor social media.

That post led me to virtual meeting with Michele Wohl (photo top left), Revinate’s VP of marketing. Michelle gave me a demonstration of the Revinate social media monitoring tool for hotels and we discussed social media, semantic reasoning, klout and more. Here is what we discussed

The Revinate Product

At first Wohl and I discussed the product. I like it. It needs a few more elements to be the complete package (see below) but I saw a very useful product for a hotel to understand what is going on in social media and user generated content around the hotel brand.

The product allows a hotel to track, monitor and respond to user generated content on site and social media platforms. Wohl spent 30 minutes taking me through what a typical hotel client (pty level or chain) can do with the tool. Basic tasks in the tool include:
  • Monitoring and responding to reviews;
  • Tracking commentary/updates through twitter; and
  • Track consumer sentiment about a property and competing properties.
That is – an aggregation, tracking and social media monitoring tool.

It was some of the higher end features that impressed me including:
  • “Add a ticket” and respond feature: A workflow management process that allows hotel to operationalise the information/review by assigning it to someone within the hotel and track the response. For example if the review or comment is about the restaurant it can be “ticketed” to the F&B manager to address. Very useful at bringing all elements of the property into the social media environment without over burdening staff;
  • Filter and compare: The ability to filter commentary/reviews by various categories and themes. For example to see how often the “pool” at a particular property is mentioned compared to the pool at a competitor property. Allows the hotel to be able to see how they rate against a competitor at a feature and facility level, not just overall;
  • Scorecard systems: Allowing data and trends to be compiled overtime and compared to competitors. Different time periods can be mapped against different competitors and different social media point. Creating the ability to set targets for staff members against measurable goals;
  • Chains can roll up and deep dive: Chains can see whole of chain level and then rankings between individual properties helping to drive internal competition and improvements; and
  • Pricing: The price of the product is based around the number of rooms and hotel ADR. It ranges from 1-3 times ADR per month. I like how Revinate have targeted the price of the product to be clearly measurable against a potential gain.
General Social media tips

Wohl and I also discussed some general tips and concepts around social media. Here were her tips:
  1. Monitor before you create: much like the recommendations from my 5 tips for a hotel building a social media strategy Wohl says “First thing to do is the monitoring – find out what people are saying about you. Only then do let people know you are listening. Don’t sign up for Facebook or Twitter if there is no one there at the property to look after it”;
  2. Respond to all reviews as long as the responses can be unique: On the question of responding to reviews, Wohl said it was critical that hotels reply to all reviews with unique responses. Even those from clearly contradictory (read mad but incoherent) consumers. She said “you are not responding to the person writing the review but the people reading it. Future bookers are making decisions to book based on management’s response to reviews and including that in their own post booking reviews.”; and
  3. It is not all about TripAdvisor…but: Wohl was able to show me a series of real time client examples. In none of them was TripAdvisor responsible for more than 45% of the reviews out there on that property. Some as low as 23%. Put another way more than half of the reviews about those properties were on a site other than TripAdvisor.
More to do

As I say I like the product and it is useable right now against the volumes of UGC being created. However there is more that needs to be built to match the future quantity and iterations of content.
  1. Authority/Klout measurement: There is nothing in the tool at present that prioritises one review/comment above another based on the authority/popularity/reach/klout of the creator. Wohl is aware of this and says this is one the product roadmap (update - Wohl has since told me that "Klout integration should be released in the next couple of weeks");
  2. Sentiment analysis: Expanding the search, tagging and monitoring to determine whether or not the use of a word is in a positive or negative. For example is someone wrote “this hotel is the least romantic place” then being able to tell that this mention of the word “romantic” is a negative not a positive. Wohl says that volumes are manageable at present without semantic analysis ““Clients are not yet asking us for sentiment analysis as so far the review volume is manageable that they are focused on reading and responding to every review”. Clearly this volume management will not last for ever; and
  3. Foreign languages: At the time we spoke the tool was tracking only English language reviews. Since we spoke - hotels can now request to have language reviews in their native (non-English) language fed into the system. The next step is the ability to combine information from foreign language and native language reviews. For example taking a foreign review that mentions the swimming pool and combining it with native language reviews in the aggregation tool. Wohl says this is "on the roadmap".
Wrap up

With social media there has to be a balance. Each dollar spent on social media is a dollar not spent on paid search. Each person hour spent on replying to a TripAdvisor review is an hour not spent on CRM analysis, on property client management, on managing an existing sales channel and other critical sale and customer retention activities. Now is the time for social media focus and work. But it is not the time for sacrificing online marketing and client management in favour of chasing every tweet down the endless social media rabbit hole. I like what I have seen in Revinate as a means for helping find that balance.

Any hoteliers out there with experience using Revinate or a competing product with any comments?


Bernie O'Keefe said...

We're trialling Revinate at the moment and have found the tool to be extremely useful. One of the features that I most like is the Social Buzz tool that allows you to feed segments of selected reviews into your own website.

Whilst Revinate is a great tool for monitoring online reputation - the real challenge is implementing and resourcing actionable change from the knowledge gleaned from such tools. That challenge is ongoing and difficult, but worth the effort if you can hang in there.

Tim Hughes said...

Thanks - for the comment. Appreciated

High Power Rocketry said...

: )

Anonymous said...

It is intriging to see the impact of social media on another culture. In China, online users love contributing to social media. It somehow seems to fit with the culture. They seek out and follow the opinions of their peers and trust it.
As a result, the Queensland tourism campaign is relying heavily on online marketing. I recently wrote a post about this on wordpress (

Michelle Wohl said...

Tim - I'm happy to report that we have now delivered on your Revinate feature wishlist. Klout, Sentiment Analysis and Foreign Reviews are all in there now. Looking forward to sitting down with you again and sharing our progress. Thank you!