Thursday, 24 April 2014

Responding to reviews - Linkedin

We are members of the various hospitality Linkedin groups: and we think this comment on the IHLA group is worth re-blogging: it's by Kenneth Vincent, himself a retired hotelier of some distinction (and the author of 'So Many Hotels, So Little Time'):

The full thread is here - there are some other interesting contributions.

Dialogue for hotels - working unseen

There are cases where we have Dialogue working away behind the scenes for hotel clients. Imagine you have no issues with occupancy or OTA commissions, but you do care where you rank (and score) on TripAdvisor, Google and (your ranking influences your rates); what can Dialogue do for you unseen?

Well - here are some figures for a client over the last 12 months (all are per 100 rooms to spare blushes!):

Positive reviews posted to Dialogue: 213

Negative (1*/2*) reviews captured by Dialogue: 43

Positive (4*/5*) reviews re-posted to TripAdvisor: 26

Negative reviews re-posted to TripAdvisor: 0

The effect on the hotel's TripAdvisor ranking 

And it need not take long - the yellow line is 'actual' (since joining) and the green line is 'before joining' (actual) and after joining (using our predictor algorithm)

In this case referred to in the statistics above the hotel's ranking rose by 17% over the period. But it is important to remember that the effect will be relative: if you have an experience or event that might otherwise drive your ranking down - no air-conditioning in last year's heatwave, for example, or a noisy wedding party - Dialogue will be doing its job by stopping your rankings and scores from falling. And remember Dialogue can only head off negative reviews and drive positives if you collect the guests' email addresses*. The higher proportion of these you gather the better the results will be.

It is also important to remember that, especially for highly-ranked hotels, a major part of Dialogue's role will be in maintaining your ranking and making sure that the absolute minimum number of negatives appear on TripAdvisor to put potential guests off booking.

*Clients have found that email success is greatly improved if the email address is collected on check-in, checked for legibility and then reconfirmed with the guest, either during their stay or on check-out. Guests do not resent this, especially if it is explained that the email will only be used for their benefit (to understand how their stay was, and to let them know future offers).

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Case History - Greene & Co

We all learn from each other - and we learn a lot from our clients. Here we pass on the experience of just one who has driven the implementation of Dialogue and made a huge success of it...

The Greene & Co team (Claire bottom right) are no slouches when it comes to marketing - and yes, the t-shirted one in the middle is James Corden (who, as Smithy, dropped in to their Monday morning meeting as a reward for their fund-raising efforts on behalf of the Teenage Cancer Trust).

David Pollock (MD) and Claire-Louise Taylor (Head of Marketing) have been involved and engaged from the very start, way before we went live, but crucially, at launch and ever since, they have encouraged and supported the concept of reviews as a business driver until they are no longer simply 'a useful addition' to Greene & Co sales and marketing efforts: they have become embedded in the Greene & Co culture, from senior management, through their six branches and amongst their negotiators and support staff.

So what approach did Greene & Co adopt?

They realised that for Dialogue to really produce the results they wanted, everyone in the company must be engaged; and engage them Greene & Co have. They have a rolling competition amongst all their negotiators with rewards for those that bring in the most reviews.

Claire-Louise has been proactive and engaged at every step along the journey, making sure those on the shop-floor understood the value of Dialogue, and channeling feedback to us here at HelpHound.


Greene & Co have six branches across North London, from Kensal Rise to Crouch End trading as Greene & Co as well as Urban Spaces in Clerkenwell.

Since going live in March 2013 just one of their branches has produced the following:

  • 128 live reviews averaging a rating of 4.7 out of 5
  • Out of these, exactly 100 rate them at 5 out of 5
  • 27 rate them at 4 out of 5
  • 1 rates them at 3 out of 5
Crucially, Dialogue has also produced 13 reviews that contained some kind of issue for the branch to resolve. This has succeeded in every case (no negative reviews have been published).

The following are screenshots of some of the recent comments (these are shown to prospective clients):

And note the 'Helpful' votes - every one from a prospective client who has not only taken the trouble to read the review, but also to vote.

Another key feature of Dialogue is the way it automatically invites your clients to post to Google (or any other 'open' site):

There can now be no doubt in any prospective clients' mind that Green & Co deliver on the promises they make. And here's Dialogue delivering for Greene & Co.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Estate agents - It's a pity you can't all be on 'Under Offer'!

Even the BBC panders to the 'posh' agents - Knightsbridge and Chelsea take the seats

We're sure all of you have been glued to the first two episodes, and we suspect that the few who turned down the invitation to participate may be having second thoughts; what with inbound enquiries to Bradleys soaring (and the telegenic Lewis Rossiter must be shortlisted for the Breakfast sofa).

So what does Under Offer tell us - insider and client alike - that we didn't already know? Well, the answer has to be 'Not a lot' unfortunately (we tend to concur with Zoe Williams' review in the Guardian)  - maybe the succeeding episodes will be more interesting, but at least here at HelpHound we have a solution for those who didn't make the cast list.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Our elevator pitch in 2014

Recently a client helpfully pointed out that our core message had evolved quite a bit over the years and they suggested we post an update, so here goes...

HelpHound's Dialogue is designed to answer the number one question posed by all your potential customers:  

"Just how good is this business?"

and in doing so...

Drive more business

That's it; there's a lot more in the detail (and you can read all about it all in this blog) but it always comes back to the concept of independently verified consumer opinion and its proven ability to drive business through your website or your door, with one crucial added ingredient: control; your control, not Google's, not TripAdvisor's, not Yelp's, not AllAgents' - yours. 

No matter what kind of business you are - accountant or zoo - estate agent or hotel - Dialogue will get you those opinions and display them for you with complete credibility: driving more business.

  • Dialogue - guaranteed to drive more enquiries through your website
  • Dialogue - guaranteed to drive more conversions
  • Dialogue - guaranteed to make you look great on your own website
  • Dialogue - guaranteed to make you look great all over the web

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Estate agents - let's put some numbers to the potential of Dialogue

According to the RICS (as reported in today's Times) the average number of sales per agent rose to 22.7 in the first quarter of 2014.

Taking the UK average property price (£254,000*) that's monthly commissions of...
  • £48,048 @ 2.5%
  • £38,438 @ 2%
  • £34,290 @ 1.5%
*And, of course, as we all know you can just about double that in London and the Home Counties, even on average house prices.

And it doesn't look like it's about to stop any time soon

So a typical branch fee for Dialogue at £150 - how many more sales would need to be completed? Well, it's less than one; so lets see what just one more sale will now bring in, net of our fee...
  • £6,200 @ 2.5%
  • £4,930 @ 2%
  • £3,660 @ 1.5% 
Remember - Dialogue cannot free up more stock, but it does help those committed to selling choose you.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Response rates - Dialogue v. CRM for Hotels

If Dialogue is to work for you - enabling you to manage negatives in private and get more positive reviews written - then 'volume of response' to the feedback invitation is one of the key factors.

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is "What about response rates?" and the answer is simple, even if the reasons behind it are not...

"Dialogue is about 10 x better than conventional CRM" 

That means if your current CRM (or Guest Relations Management, as some call it) is generating a response of +- 0.5% (one in 200 guests) then Dialogue is likely to lift that to 5% (one in 20 guests).

'How?' and 'Why?'

Anecdotal evidence gleaned by our moderators as they read each review and response indicates that it is Dialogue's independence that makes the difference. Guests are much more likely to respond to a request for feedback when there is a third party involved, and that third party reinforces a 'promise to publish'. This is backed up by pure logic when we compare pre-Dialogue CRM response rates for our clients; our independence is the only thing that differentiates Dialogue's results (in terms of volume) from the hotel's own CRM.

Why is this response rate so crucial?

If part of your focus with Dialogue is presenting the best possible face to the world (your potential guests and clients) then it is absolutely vital that...
  • Your 'less than completely satisfied' guests have a channel to voice their opinion before they resort to posting a negative review*
  • You can encourage more of your happy guests to post to TripAdvisor
To achieve both of these you need response - in volume and from both categories of guest - happy and unhappy. Dialogue will get you that response - and achieve both these objectives.

A case study

Let's take a client that ranks in the top 100 hotels in London...

In the last 12 months we have enabled them to manage over 80 negative reviews which, had they been published, would have ranked the hotel at either 3, 2 or 1 star.

On top of that Dialogue has achieved 43 reposts of 4 or 5 star reviews to TripAdvisor.

So - fewer negatives, more positives - Dialogue much more than paying for itself.

*This is about much more than just stopping the guest from posting a negative review, it is just as much about guest retention: having an effective mechanism that allows the guest to say "If you do [this] I'll stay again."

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What to expect when you join - Estate Agents

2014 was the year that brought the benefits of membership for estate agents into sharp focus: up until then we had been concerned that populating external sites (Google, AllAgents etc.) would be a major concern. Whilst this remains part-and-parcel of our wider remit it is now abundantly clear that Dialogue has become the key tool in our cleints' armoury to...

  • Drive enquiries through their websites
  • Drive conversions

Both these bear closer examination (with no apologies at all for repeating and updating some of the content of previous blog posts). 

Driving enquiries 

You don't need us to tell you that the initial enquiry is your life blood, but to look at some agents' websites you might not believe it: the same hackneyed old self-serving blurb about how experienced they are (who says so?) and how much local knowledge they have (ditto).

Dialogue enables our clients to answer the questions that are right at the forefront of their potential clients' minds:

"What sort of job does this agent do for their clients?"

"Are they reliable?"

"Are they professional?"

Show Dialogue on your home page and potential clients will flow your way...

Reviews referenced three times

Driving Conversions

Dialogue is being used more and more as a tool to drive conversions. Showing credible client opinions to potential clients, opinions that address the concerns of those potential cleints head-on, gets the instruction...

Let's look at a 'real-life' example: you are with a potential client who is concerned that you may be like the 'other agents he's heard about' who don't follow through with great service once they have the instruction... you show him this:

Helpful? To you both? You bet!