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Hilton, Marriott, and Four Seasons Most Talked About Brands On the 'Net

February 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM | by | ()

"How do you choose a hotel? By the quality of service? The view? What your friends might think? How about the water pressure in the shower?"

These are questions Boston-based, global PR firm Brodeur Partners is trying to answer via a new market research study, dubbed the "Hospitality Relevance Audit," that "looks into the heart of what really matters in online conversations about hotel choice."

The firm conducted the study with the help of the technical wizardy of MavenMagnet, a company whose knack is "leveraging the power of online conversations."

The study analyzed ten popular hotel brands based on a unique "Conversational Relevance(TM)" scale . It quantifies A) how much people are talking about a brand and B) how impactful and positive that conversation is; sifting through more than 18,000 "online conversations" (wait, are they spying on us?!) from May - October 2012 across social networks, profiles, forums, news sites and blogs.

It appears the project judged positive vs. negative buzz by looking at practical considerations of how each brand "resonated with hotel guests' sense, values, and needs" based on four essential elements:

1. Functionality: Service, location, rooms, activities, & rewards programs. Comments in this area "dominated" the overall conversation. Winners: Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton

2. Sensory: Attributes that appeal to all five senses like the view and water pressure in the shower (which surprisingly eclipses bed comfort in online attention)." Winners: Ritz-Carlton and Hilton

3. Values: Attributes that reflect personal values such as the hotel's "service ethic and "commitment to indulging patrons." Winner: Four Seasons dominated

4. Social: Attributes related to customer status, such as the brand's "cachet" (Which, for all you wannabe wordsmiths, means "state of respect or being admired"). Winner: Four Seasons (again).

"When a brand is engaging in all four dimensions, it inspires strong feelings and an abiding loyalty in those who experience it" says a Brodeur strategic planning exec.

The study's magnifying glass went even further, divvying up results between leisure and business travelers. Room cleanliness, for example, apparently means more to business travelers than leisure travelers. Hm. Okay, we guess that makes sense. The leisure travel sector was broken down even more, like, for instance, deducing that Ritz-Carltons are particularly popular in conversations for families traveling with kids. Other hot topics included room noise in the "sound" category, and when it came to convos about the rooms themselves, "size matters."

The study also uncovered a few interesting revelations, like: "While there has been a lot of investment by hotels in the quality of beds, the subject that most people talked about in the "touch" or "feel"category was the shower, specifically the water pressure.

While obviously there are some inherent limitations to the study (we know your everyday Joe Schmo ain't gonna be holing up at a Ritz, or Four Seasons, on his standard family vacay), there are some cool advantages. The "zero interference approach" eliminates potential biases that could occur through, say, a survey or questionairre, or any that may be based in location. "It relies on real people freely sharing thoughts with others who have common interests about things that matter to them."

So -- who takes the cake for talk of the town? The study revealed that Hilton (58%), Marriott (56%) and Four Seasons (51%) are the top brands, having the highest online "Conversational Relevance(TM)" scores among travelers.

Since we at HotelChatter consider ourselves THE forum for, ya know, talking about hotels, we think this lil' project is a pretty sweet thing!

So -- let's chat, shall we? Tell us: How do YOU choose a hotel? What of the above elements are most important to you? What aspects of your hotel stay do you usually tend to talk the most about, share on Facebook/Twitter, or write about on TripAdvisor or other review sites?

[Photo: Marriott Hotels]

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