Like all brands, hotel chains work hard to create a positive brand image in the minds of consumers. Components of brand image for hotels include price, amenities, customer service, location, and so on. Individuals staying in hotels while traveling for business or pleasure have strong opinions, because a hotel can make or break a trip, and they express those unvarnished opinions in the social media universe.

To see what they’re saying about hotels in the highly competitive full-service hotel segment, I analyzed the social media conversation for three hotels competing for approximately the same customer demographic—Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott.

Hilton Positive and Negative

For the Hilton, the biggest positive theme was the locations of the hotels. Visitors found them to be centrally located, and near attractions, meetings, and shopping.

Here are a couple of representative positive sound bites:

If the city of choice doesn’t provide public hire bikes borrowing one from the hotel may also be an option for travelers. Once the preserve of hotels in Dutch cycle-heaven Amsterdam, more and more hotels around the world are offering guests the use of a bike during their stay. The Hilton Hotel in Nagoya, Japan started offering bikes to guests this year … (source)

The Hilton Hotel which is a favorite with tourists, has a number of family friendly facilities for guests. It is located in the heart of Montreal and gives guests easy access to the main shopping areas. Guests can bring their dogs with them at no extra charge but the same needs to be informed while making reservations. (source)

The biggest negative theme for the Hilton was “unsatisfactory accommodations.” Drilling down into that theme shows the biggest complaints were that rooms were not clean, too noisy, and had bed bugs.

Here are a couple of representative negative sound bites:

I have stayed at two different Hilton hotels in the past month due to my husband’s work travel. I have to say that overall, I am very disappointed. Hilton hotels seem to pay attention to counters in the bathrooms, but neglect the tub/shower areas. Service varies, of course, as do amenities. That said, I have no desire to ever stay in a Hilton again. (source)

ADELAIDE’S Hilton hotel has lost the second of its high-profile celebrity cooking stars after executive chef and ABC television star Simon Bryant resigned yesterday. The Cook and The Chef co-star with Australian Senior of the Year Maggie Beer, Bryant’s announcement closely follows the controversial departure of the hotel’s world-renowned Grange restaurant chef, Cheong Liew, late last year.

Hyatt Positive and Negative

For the Hyatt, positive themes were great deals, specifically the Hyatt Gold passport, weekend specials and travel packages. People also liked the location of the hotels.

Here are a couple of representative positive sound bites:

Following upgrades and investments in recent years, including enhancements to guestrooms and suites, meeting space and public areas, Hyatt Regency Istanbul announced its conversion to Grand Hyatt Istanbul from December 1, 2009. The brand change aligns the property with the other 34 Grand Hyatt hotels around the world, recognised by international travellers as leading properties in major gateway cities and international resort destinations.

I’ve found most hotel concierge or reception desks happy to give a map or directions to a good running route. … Many Hyatt Hotels & Resorts in North America provide palm-size running guides created by Active-Minded Traveler. (source)

Labor issues were the dominant negative themes, specifically abuse of workers and unfair firings. People also expressed concerns about a threatened boycott of the chain by the governor of Massachusetts.

Here’s a representative negative sound bite:

The Hyatt hotel chain is facing more trouble after firing nearly 100 housekeepers and replacing them [nearly 100 housekeepers] with contract workers. Though a rep for Hyatt has denied that the fired workers were “tricked” into training their replacements and were not given severance, it seems the public isn’t buying it. (source)

Marriott Positive and Negative

For the Marriott, location was the biggest positive, with visitors complimenting the chain on the “centralized position” of its hotels and their great views. They also like the Marriott points program.

Here are a couple of representative positive sound bites: blogger Ken Walker. For personal travel expenses, Walker uses a Marriott Rewards Visa. “I chose Marriott because they [Marriott] seem to be in more of the countries [my wife and I] like to visit,” he explains. “We toured Italy for 10 days and in 6 cities, we found a Marriott in every one of them and we didn’t spend a dime of our own money.” (source)

“We are worried that the economy doesn’t have legs,” he said. “It’s touchy out there.” Marriott offers gulf guarantee. For those who fear the BP oil spill will ruin a trip to the Gulf Coast, Marriott International Inc. is offering a guarantee. Sort of. (source)

Here’s the chart of negative themes for the Marriott:

Key negative themes for the Marriott were timeshare issues and, especially, price. While many visitors found the hotels were “nice,” they still found them to be expensive, particularly in comparison with competitors.

Here’s a representative negative sound bite:

amazed how poor the Marriott Manhattan Beach is. Broken internet, broken door, vile decor from the 1970s… Should have gone elsewhere… (source)

For market researchers and brand managers at these hotels, this kind of in-depth analysis that reflects the voice of the consumer provides clear indications of their brand’s perceived strengths and weaknesses and can influence their decisions on priorities, budgeting, marketing and more.

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