Real Deal or Fake News?
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Real or fake: ARDA World 2018 Annual Convention & Expo is in Orlando this year in April


Recently (assuming you are a current events buff) we learned about Russian “bots” being deployed to influence our election using the volume of certain social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Those bots may or may not have been intended to sway anything, but they certainly did influence the content of social posts, and in some occasions, real events.


And, there are social media listening solutions that will scrape the Internet for any mention of your resort. They will even tell you what the sentiment is behind the posting. In addition, there are public relations companies that will take those mentions and tell or show you how to use that information to enhance your online image.


They both use the same technology. One of them is pure evil while the other is designed to increase the pleasantness of your guests’ experience.  I will let your mind wander as to which one is evil!


Bold Question #1:  if feedback, in any form, is delivered to you by your customers it is real.

But, how do you know? How do you determine the “Fake News” from the “Real Deal”? It’s just like using a fake id, it’s very hard and sophisticated.


Bold Solution #1: As President Ronald Reagan pointed out when talking about his relationship with the Russians, his now famous words “trust yet verify” ring truer today than ever. With the proliferation of the omni channel armed consumer, you can gain feedback from all sorts of vehicles. Social media, surveys, listening services, and chat lines are but a few of these avenues where your guests have all the opportunity they need to let you know how they feel.


So, if left to their own devices, our guests will come at us in a myriad of ways. And, they even rate us on sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, or Expedia.  If they had the greatest experience of their life they may tell you in your survey but ding you on Yelp because they saw a dead tree outside of their window.  (PS, if you are tracking your NPS (net promoter score), for example these people will show up in the 7-8 category). [insert NPS jpg here]


Bold Question # 2: How viral is viral?


That may sound like a dumb one, but it is not so dumb when you don’t have a quantitative answer. In other words, exactly how many times in the course of a day, week, month and year has my property been mentioned on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) and most important, what is the sentiment behind them.


Bold Solution # 2: With the amazing power of artificial intelligence widely available today, it is not a far cry to determine sentiment – whether what is being said is positive, negative or neutral. And, it is quantifiable.  Interpreting unstructured data (verbatim comments) into structured reporting used to be a very bulky process. It required somehow building a library of thousands of words the software would then look for and report on.


The ability to quantify guest sentiments posted on social media sites or in surveys used to be very difficult.


According to Line Atallah, Vice President of Marketing for Keatext, a Canadian artificial intelligence text analytics company “The ability to quantify unstructured data is difficult. Although today’s technology is quite complex and very tricky, its’ evolution has proven it to be very trainable.  With Artificial Intelligence, the more it learns, the more effective the technology becomes to determine exactly what is being said, by whom and about what –  and ranks results so the priorities are more obvious. When you combine text analytics with quantitative and qualitative survey data, you are drilling down on sentiment in a very complex manner and providing your operational teams with actionable data they can use to immediately improve upon service and experience delivery. [insert text analytics jpg here]


Bold Question # 3:  How do I ensure I am getting a true and accurate picture of the perception of my brand?


Bold Solution # 3: The solution to that is as wide and varied as the methods of measuring the perception. The big guys –  Hyatt, Marriott, Wyndham, among others –  work first and foremost to protect their brands. “Brand Management” is what it is called. The brands have been measuring customer/guest experience and sentiment for a very long time. They are the earliest adopters of measurement like Net Promotor Score (NPS).


Peter Drucker management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation said it best, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”.


Bold Question # 4: How much data is enough?


Bold Solution # 4:  To put it simply; more than you have. You can never have too much data and customers/guests leave plenty of exhaust to measure and report. Howard Bendell, RRP – an independent advisor and affiliate partner of CustomerCount –    has been providing qualitative analysis to the resort industry for more than 30 years. His take on data is that it be both measurable and actionable.  Being able to separate information that is ‘nice to know about’ from that which lends strategic and tactical application to your resort is paramount.  Applying qualitative analysis techniques to measurable and actionable raw data provides the insight that will drive your operational teams to improve upon service and experience delivery.”


Bold Question # 5: We know that accessibility and credibility are attached at the hip. With social media offering such accessibility, how do we ensure the credibility of the information?


Bold Answer # 5: The easiest way, not necessarily the least expensive way, is to outsource to individuals whose job it is to validate just how credible the information is, and therefore, offer your own credibility statements. Or, depending on your company’s penchant for keeping everything in house, hire individuals that are accountable for the results, which generally mean responding to measurable information.


Bold Statement: Watch out for the Hooey Slingers!


There is a significant dark side of online reputation management. There are companies that will claim they can take all of your data and make an argument to the public that you are somehow different than what you really are. They purchase hundreds of URL’s and post negative and fake information about your company, then, for a handsome fee offer to “clean them up”. Reputation management and brand management are not the same and it is very difficult to engage a customer if there is no cohesive method of integrating all of your data points with all of your touch points.


That is where the validate and verify comes from – it may sound complicated but if your process for measurement is one customer journey – you can separate the fact from the fiction.



Answer to the question at the top: Fake. ARDA World 2018 Annual Convention & Expo is in Las Vegas, May 6-10th