How to make hotel guests smile
Expedia Global Product Management vice-president Benoit Jolin introduced Expedia Partner Central (EPC) to the roomful of journalists, at the launch of their Innovation Lab in Singapore in early April.
“EPC is your window into billions of travellers in our real-time travel marketplace,” he said. Based on user research, they invented the prototype of the Innovation Lab, and then began conducting rapid testing. They made over 11,000 platform enhancements last year.
“Every click means a better experience for the next user. The more you use the app, the better it becomes,” said Jolin.
He also explained that Expedia leverages on the power of insights and feedback to translate their online shoppers into hotel guests.
“If user reviews are positive, the hotel can draw more people. But negative reviews can massively hurt a hotel’s reputation,” he said.
Hotels are struggling with guest reviews, as they usually only find out if a guest had been unhappy staying at their accommodation after the guest has left.
So Expedia is aiming to solve the negative review problem before it even happens. They engage with guests just as their hotel stay begins. In their mobile app, they ask three simple questions:
Are you happy with your check-in? Are you happy with your room? Are you happy with the hotel’s location?
All the guest has to do, for each question, is to tap on an emoticon – happy or sad – to convey their feelings. Guests can add comments, too, if they like.
“We then channel that info, regarding the guest’s sentiments, back to the hotel in real time. And they can remove the problems immediately,” said Jolin. Since the launch, they have received over 8.3 million responses. Hotels that respond in real time get a higher rate of positive reviews. Also, “fully engaged guests spend much more than disengaged guests”, added Jolin.