Case Study: Monitor Globally, Act Socially

With a broad portfolio of more than 4,000 hotels in 90 countries, Accor was facing over 5,000 comments each month on social travel sites such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor. After the jump, takeaways for your brand from Accor's monitoring-based social media strategies.

With a broad portfolio of more than 4,000 hotels in 90 countries, Accor was facing over 5,000 comments each month on social travel sites such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor. As with many brands, the economic downturn increased the company’s focus on customer satisfaction and quality of service.

The company’s current social media initiative is monitoring-based and carefully executed. There are takeaways in this case study for brands of all sizes, local and global.

Objectives

Accor turned to monitoring services provide Synthesio to, in the words of Yves Lecret, marketing director Accor’s Novotel brand in France, “identify the root of a problem at its source, in order to be able to fix it as quickly as possible”.

The company wanted to learn what customers are saying about the Accor brand and approximately 12,000 competitors’ hotels; combine these results with its internal data; and provide local hoteliers with a monitoring tool and guidelines for taking action on social media content.

Goals and challenges

Short term: Raise Awareness and Measure Customer Satisfaction – Run a pilot on a few hotels and raise brand managers’ and hoteliers’ awareness on the importance of social media data. Build custom Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure customer satisfaction.

Mid term: Identify Best Practices – Use this information to identify which hotels were faring better than others. Implement social media data in the Accor internal monitoring system.

Long term: Improve Customer Satisfaction – Identify problems and improve Accor’s online image and reputation. Give hoteliers guidelines on how to respond online and increase customer satisfaction and brand awareness.

Challenges included identifying reviews on specific hotels even when the name of the hotel is not mentioned, along with grouping reviews mentioning the same hotel on different websites.

Project overview

Initial audit

When the project began in 2008, Synthesio found:

  • Topics discussed by web users are similar to customer comments collected through other channels (on-site questionnaires, customer satisfaction surveys) but sentiment differs.
  • Customers use review websites to offer an objective comment on their stay.
  • Online reviews could provide a representative understanding of the reputation of the brand for a certain population of customers (tourists rather than business travelers).

Dashboard variations

Three classes of dashboards were deployed to have a homogeneous set of data for each brand and country, while allowing hoteliers to manage their own hotel’s online reputation:

  • Corporate marketing – One global dashboard with all the data on all brands, hotels and competitors globally.
  • Brand marketing and operations directors in each country – 40 dashboards with country-specific data for all hotels and competitors for the brand.
  • Hoteliers – 4,000+ dashboards with locally specific data for the hotel and nearby competitors.

Timetable

  • During the first three months of the project, Synthesio identified Accor and competitor hotels in each country, defined custom KPIs and designed dashboards for each level. 30 topics and sub-topics were identified for monitoring and analysis in partnership with the customer service department.
  • For one year following, Synthesio monitored 1,000 hotels worldwide in English, French, and German, following a limited number of brands to test and optimize the service. Accor corporate marketing did “a social media tour” to present the service in each country and raise awareness on the relevance of social media data.
  • Worldwide implementation is ongoing. Synthesio now monitors 4,000 hotels worldwide in eight languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch and Chinese.

Examples of the custom KPI’s and customer satisfaction scoring

  • Customer satisfaction index and evolution over time (Takes into account the volume of positive and negative data published on the topic)
  • Hotels’ score on review websites (all out of 10)
  • Global brand overview (sentiment analysis across all sites for all hotels)
  • Hotel search (the ability to search for keywords within all comments from the Synthesio dashboard)
  • Top and flop hotels (an automatic ranking of the Top 5 and Bottom 5 in terms of guest sentiment)

Results

  • Increased overall online reputation by 55%, while the number of negative comments has remained level.
  • The Novotel brand has seen double-digit growth in online sales over the past year. Other brands have also see growth.
  • Identified hotels with bad reputations and alerted hoteliers to the importance of customer satisfaction.
  • Some unexpected findings. For example, using internal and Synthesio data, Accor discovered that clients’ keys were being demagnitized by their smartphones. The company alerted their suppliers who applied a fix that allowed Accor to reduce costs and improve the experience of many guests.

Takeaways

Start Small, Think Big – Proof of concept involved a small set of hotels with much back and forth with the Accor team during the first months to build the tool suitable for all types of social media needs.

Get Commitment From Internal Teams – The corporate team at Accor promoted the service internally, meeting with each brand director globally and presenting results. The company instituted rewards and training programs to complement the tracking of hotels’ online reputations to motivate their employees for “their” brands and to train employees on how to better respond to online comments.

Keep it simple – When working on global projects, there is a tendency to build complicated processes to match everybody’s needs. Assessing needs and understanding the diverse product applications can facilitate creation of user-friendly platforms that are easy to set up and to maintain across countries and cultures.

Social Times profiled Synthesio in November 2010.