Taylor Cole is director of public relations and social media at Hotels.com, the Expedia website that recently launched a new campaign based on its popular mobile booking app. On a phone call with the Holmes Report, Cole explained the company’s engagement strategy and shed some light on the PR issues that get hotels into trouble.
Tell us a little bit about the new campaign and how it has been received?
We really wanted to use demonstrate the ease of use. We had the idea of showing the mobile booking experience, by using a skydiver. We were in the top ten on iTunes downloads, and we have exceeded a lot of results in mobile bookings.
What kind of people, typically, make a mobile booking?
What we are finding with mobile bookings, is typically people are in a short radius between the hotel and where they are in town. That’s why mobile booking is so attractive, especially in today’s environment, and from knowing that there are exclusive mobile deals as well.
How do you deal with charges of astroturfing that often surround online review systems?
Our guest review system is quite a bit different. Ours only allows you to review a hotel when you have booked and stayed through hotels.com. You can trust these reviews.
From a hotel PR perspective, what do people commonly complain about?
The quality of the room. They can deal with a late check-in or maybe housekeeping issues. But things like arriving and the rooms not available at all, or you find the room’s not clean. Maintenance issues.
And what are people thankful for?
Lately we’ve found in this marketplace where people are stretching travel dollars, people are appreciative of any perks that hotels provide. For example, Wifi service is a huge benefit for business and leisure travellers. People are wanting that free breakfast. They are looking for something extra that’s provided by the hotel. Anything that will add that added convenience to the traveller’s life.
Do hotels themselves want access to your review information?
We often hear from hoteliers. They are looking at our guest reviews because they know the opinion of a guest holds tremendous value when compared to the owner of the hotel. The guest reviews are very beneficial in that regard. Hoteliers often contact us and ask us to re-evaluate our guest reviews - we don’t change them, but we will consider working with them on their star rating.