Yo Momma Writes Great Reviews

I have ordered the flowers and signed the card. With these US Mother’s Day rituals covered, the only thing left to do is work with our data scientist to uncover what makes reviews that mention moms unique.

First we wanted to look at reviews that specifically mentioned Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday, for our friends in Ireland) in conjunction with reviews that mention mother/mom/mam against all reviews. What we found is that mom-related reviews indicate a “love-hate” pattern, where three and four star reviews are fewer than normal, and one, two and five star reviews are more frequent. Just like your mother, opinions are strong.

As you can see from the graph, above, Mother’s Day reviews are similar to mom-related reviews. However, there are more five star reviews and fewer reviews of all other scores compared to mom-related reviews. From this analysis, it seems apparent that people who spend the Mother’s Day holiday at hospitality destinations tend to enjoy their stays.

We wanted to find out what topics cause the love/hate review scores in mom-related reviews so we looked at terms that appear most frequently. First, we looked at topics that appear across both positive and negative reviews. The term “elderly” was mentioned very frequently. This choice of word indicates a concern regarding the age of the person being described, most commonly the mother. The term “kids” was also mentioned frequently in both types of reviews. This is noteworthy in that kids do not necessarily equate to a negative stay, but they must be catered to and thus are often mentioned in the reviews. The terms “wedding” and “manager” also appear frequently in both positive and negative reviews. This indicates overlap with a previous study we performed on how weddings can be very important to the online reputation of a hotel manager.

What topics appear frequently in positive mom-related reviews? In other words, where are hotels meeting or exceeding expectations in mom-related stays? Terms for specific relatives, such as daughter, dad and sister appear frequently in positive mom-related reviews. Specific, strong memories associated with these people usually encourage a positive sentiment in the review. Here are some examples of review snippets.

“A horse and carriage came for my daughter and me, and we clip-clopped slowly all through the resort, with guests waving from balconies, and more waves, smiles and applause from staff members as we passed by.”

“My 16 year old teen and I stayed at the Now Sapphire for 4 nights during Easter Break for a mother daughter trip.”

“13 times – and the good luck continues! Once again, my Mom and I had a wonderful mother-daughter trip to Miraval – and this time included my daughters (including the pregnant one!) As one cousin said – now three and a half generations have enjoyed this incredible destination!”

“Birthday” was also a popular term, which makes sense since birthday celebrations generally are memorable events.

“the staff is extremely accommodating and went above and beyond to make my mom’s birthday a memorable one.”

Guests that write mom-related reviews also tend to heavily research their vacations. The term “review” itself appears prominently in positive mom-related reviews. This can be a huge benefit for hotels as some mom-related reviews not only praise the property for meeting expectations, but go further to correct old negative reviews, which is word-of-mouth marketing at its best. Seeing a hotel employee respond to negative reviews is great to help minimize the impact of negative reviews. Seeing a guest do this in her own review can seriously help a hotel with poor reputation in a certain area improve by leaps and bounds. Here are only a small sample of the strongly positive reviews that reference past reviews on OTA and review sites:

“Let me start by saying that the reviews we read on Trip Advisor helped us plan the PERFECT vacation.”

“We disagree with one reviewer’s comments about the unavailability of food during the day: breakfast is served from 7:30 to 10:30; lunch is at noon and goes to 2 pm.”

“See it for yourself before you decide to listen to negative reviews.”

“You can read in my last review that I thoroughly loved this hotel! Not much had changed since our last trip.”

“Reviewers who complained about the small balconies stayed in one category of room (oceanfront).”

To understand where hotels are not meeting the expectations of guests who write mom-related reviews, we looked at negative topics. The number one term negatively associated with mom-related reviews is “home”. There are many reasons for mentioning the topic “home”, but a context that appears frequently is in reference to a familiar space where the guest feels comfortable. Comforts such as television, food, laundry and air temperature can all fuel negative feedback. Here are some examples:

“Which might not be THAT bad if you are at home, but they don’t wash them in hotels.”

“I would rather have stayed at home and watched National Geographic.”

“Next time, we’ll cook at home.”

Also, it should be noted that although the term “review” does not appear as frequently in negative reviews as it does in positive reviews, guests who write mom-related reviews are often quite vocal about their negative experiences and excited to take to online review sites and OTAs to share their feelings. For example:

“I could not wait to get home to write this review and will do so on every travel site I can find.” (Yipes. This mom is your worst nightmare.)

“Dinner” and “reservation” also show up as negative topics in mom-related reviews. While hotel restaurants are often managed separately from the hotel, restaurant experiences are often recorded in hotel reviews and can affect ratings, as we we see below:

“Upon arrival, our reservation was not found,we had to wait over 40 min for them to honor”

“When we showed up for our reservation, we were again told that there was nothing under any of our names.

“We booked reservations at all 3 of the restaurants and none of them were recorded.”

“I don’t quite understand why there was a need to make a reservation 2 days prior.”

 Fair or not, hotels need to be cognizant that any experience at a hotel can be written about in a review so making sure that issues are solved on property, before the guest checks out, is critical. And when you’re dealing with moms, remember to treat them like queens, especially on their special day.

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