One sure sign your company is behind the social media learning curve, or at least the news curve, is announcing you’ve just adopted some tech solution that may not matter in months. One of the world’s finest hoteliers, Kempinski, just announced adopting Revinate as a so called “social media solution.” When will traditional businesses learn their brands have to reflect perfectly the credibility?
Let me start by saying that Revinate offers a superb value in not only information, but in their apparent software offerings. This is not the primary focus of this article. The focus is rather, about cutting edge meeting PR hype. First off, let’s get some PR, marketing, and even Internet technology dogma issues out of the way. Suffice it to say 100 brands have announced this social media solution or that – as a way of “seamlessly integrating” their brands onto the collective Internet community. Looking at the corporate dogma of Revinate too, keying on what all industries have come to expect to “read or hear” from such “platforms” – anyone with half an inclination can easily feel as if they’ve entered a social media Hotel California, of sorts.
Hype mixed in with real software, what a mixed value proposition. The big problem though is – social media solutions metric based in large part on bogus or unsubstantiated variables. TripAdvisor is a key metric utilized by Revinate in supply feedback, but there are others too. The problem Revinate and ALL such software technologies will be having in the coming months will be – Credibility. This was always the rub, people were just following the trend. We have discussed TripAdvisor, SEO, and reviews for more than two years here, not to mention on our travel news site.
The rhetoric surrounding many of these “social wonders” is so syrupy as to become disgusting, in my view. A recent PR Newswire release aired on the Sacramento Bee stings like a honey bee, its rear end coated in honey dipped dogma, I quote AlwaysOn’s editor and founder Tony Perkins;
“The make-up of OnMedia 100 represents forward-thinking media companies in a year charged with disruptive change. The emergence of Web-fueled TV and the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets are challenging the media world to transform itself into a global, consumer-focused industry. Coupled with the socialization of everything, this year’s digital media and entertainment startups are boldly charging into future, ready to reinvent the establishment with new, invigoration products and services……. Web analytics are now embracing a social world, providing marketing and advertising companies with the targeted data that delivers on the promise of reaching consumers with meaningful, actionable messages.”
Revinate announced their Top 100 placement within the 2012 OnMedia 100 Top Private Companies replete with such glowing verbage. And they used to accuse me of being too positive and enthusiastic in reviews! You know, 7 years ago I actually hated writing negative reviews – somehow, I now see it as my duty to call such things to your attention. Being a PR and editor, maybe this gives me a unique view? Though I would not hint mine is the only opinion. Moving on.
Revinate “tames and demystifies” social media. One thing I use to evaluate the “engagement” of any company in social media is the engagement of the company with social media. You read that correctly. Put a company’s resources atop their actual use of whatever it is they claim to have “tamed” and you end up with a kind of quotient of credibility, at least in my book. Let’s just call it a SMBS quotient (you figure out the underlying meaning). For Revinate, it does not look good to have a decent Twitter following, a new announcment, and a couple of tweets from 5 days ago.
Okay, it’s only Tuesday, signing one of the world’s most famous hotel brands is not such a big deal – or maybe Revinate is so busy seamlessly integrating the luxury hoteliers’ accounts??? Moving over to the Revinate Facebook profile, the 500 something fans there are not talking it up about big hotel deals either. Maybe the Revinate cast is over at Kempenski’s Facebook helping hammer out review analysis or? It could be Kempenski is so proud of Revinate their wall is… well, no, the last post there is about French actor Tomer Sisley at the Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center!
For anyone who is capable of reading between the lines, just looking at what Alexander Noak, Kempenski’s Corporate Manager of Digital Strategy is quoted as saying, is food for thought at the least:
“…Revinate’s Social Buzz makes it quick and easy to select and post quotes from reviews on our own sites to ensure that our shoppers have trusted guest feedback to give them confidence in their booking decisions with us.”
“Trusted.” A less beneficial way of looking at this statement might read; “We want to convince people to book with us with our own rhetoric.” Of course this is a bit of a stretch, but the reader gets the point I hope. Even if Kempinski has discovered the very finest social media metric software on Earth, their PR and marketing rhetoric sucks. Unregulated reviews on the Internet, in the coming months, may well become a thing of the past. What will replace them? What will Revinate use then? How will Kempinki’s matrix of feeback and reaction be affected?
A lot depends on variables and factors completely out of the control of Revinate, RateGain, Sysomos’s Heartbeat, even monitoring tools like Radian6 are vulnerable when “constants” are not rock solid in their concreteness. The danger for hoteliers is actually greater than most imagine, and given the sensitive times for hotels I wonder at Kempinski’s wisdom in selecting anyone in this sphere at this time.
In defense of Kempinski and Revinate (fair being fair) the hotel chain is not the only one discussing social media, even announcing with a PR tone about it. Hilton, Wyndham, just about any hotel chain with a website pays lip service to engaging you the traveler. Though execs at both ends of this discussion claim real time social response is capable of enhancing guest-hotel relationships, anyone working in this sphere knows no one can afford real time adherence to customer complaints.
Revinate, and a herd of other software providers do fantastic things with data, but in the hospitality world in particular face to face is where the real PR and branding occurs. Announcing Revinate as a data compiler, a true metric tool to improve Kempinski’s “future” service – this is one thing. Suggesting the hotel janitor is “seamlessly” involved with instantaneous Facebook and TripAdvisor complaints?
The press release from Revinate is really fairly accurate, it’s their own brand’s engagement that sends a negative message. And, too much hype can turn the corner of credibility too. For the hotelier out there reading this, it is maybe good advice to hold off on anything tied too closely with reviews by unknown people.
While no system of reviews is ever perfect, it is incumbent on scientific metrics to ensure the weights and measures necessary. And where this goes, maybe the hotel, restaurant or car rental company that refuses to publish reviews will end up on top? It could be that social media monitoring will end up purely reflecting a real life value of products? We’ll attempt to test Revinate’s services for a fair revue very soon.