Customer Alliance interview, managing reviews to attract new target customers

For accommodation facilities, managing the web reputation, namely the online reputation resulting from guests’ reviews, is a complex and delicate topic. Managing this tool means collecting and analysing the reviews published by present customers, but at the same time could mean winning or losing potential ones.
Collecting and monitoring reviews, along with the semantic analysis and controlling competitors, allows to create a picture of the hotel or tourist accommodation. Frequently, a shallow analysis is not enough to make decisions or take measures to change the least competitive aspects of a tourist accommodation’s offer.

Twissen interviewed Federica Felicetti, Marketing & Business Development Manager at Customer Alliance, a company based in Berlin which provides to tourist accommodations a software to manage and build web reputation.

Twissen: How was the idea of Customer Alliance born?

Felicetti: The idea was born in 2009 in Berlin from our two founders, to address the growing need of tourist accommodations’ owners to manage their online reputation. In the jungle of the review websites, it is hard to be constantly informed of what customers write about the hotel and to reply to all their feedbacks. In addition, even guests who are satisfied of the service, often forget to leave a review once they’ve come back to their daily routine. This is why it is important to invite guests to leave a comment after their stay. This is the reason why Customer Alliance’s solution was designed: to allow hotel managers to collect, distribute and analyse guests’ reviews, saving time and money.

Tw: Which is the business model of your company? Which services do you offer to your customers?

F: Our solution is a software, namely a Saas (Software as a Service), available online and on every kind of device, both desktop and mobile. Customer Alliance’s back-end, namely the interface where our customers are able to manage their reviews, is accessible through the log-in information that we provide. Once they access the back-end, everything is easy and organised into sections. Once they are allowed to, our customers can collect the reviews by sending an email to their guests to invite them to leave a feedback; they can distribute them, namely sharing the reviews on different strategic portals in order to enhance their international visibility, for example TripAdvisor, Google, HolidayCheck and others. They can integrate them in their own website and they can analyse them, having an overview of their online presence.

Tw: Can you introduce your team?

F: Customer Alliance’s team is made up by more than 90 professionals of brand reputation. We mostly address to the Italian, German, French, Spanish and East-European markets, but we work at an international level. If we add the IT, the Marketing and the Design departments, our offices include people from 20 different Countries, so we can define ourselves as multicultural, just like Berlin, which is the city that hosts us. The average age of employees is 30, so Customer Alliance is a young and international company, full of ideas and a real happy workplace.

Tw: In your opinion, which are the most sensitive markets to the web reputation management?

F: Nowadays, the web reputation management is a very important topic. Being present on the web and having an excellent online reputation is fundamental to be competitive on the market. So, every Country is equally interested to manage its online reputation. Of course some in some Countries, for example in Germany, hotel managers started to work on their web reputation earlier if compared to others, for example in Italy, where only recently operators showed to be interested.

Tw: Which are the most important differences of the various geographic targets?

F: One of the biggest differences lies in the channel that guests use to leave their reviews. Beyond TripAdvisor, which is the most popular one and globally known review website, there are many regional platforms which are equally important. HolidayCheck, for example, is essential if a hotel manager wants to attract more German tourists, or Zoover for Dutch ones, Yelp for English-speakers or DaoDao for Chinese ones.

Tw: Which are, according to you, the most demanding targets?

F: Every target has its own needs, so there isn’t a target which is more demanding than others. To satisfy our customers’ needs, we developed a very efficient assistance system based on dedicated account managers, rather than on a generic customer care. The account manager supports hotels from the software installation to the active management of feedbacks, also helping them with the distribution strategy.

Tw: Which are the tourism facilities which are most attentive about the web reputation management?

F: The most attentive are the ones which already have a good web reputation and want to keep it this way, or enhance it, and which have a revenue management strategy coherent with this vision.

Tw: Can you give us an example of an evolving market?

F: In Italy, for example, there are many hotels which are favourable to change, in line with the times, and committed to work on their online reputation. However, there are many hotel managers who are reluctant about welcoming new technologies, almost in all divisions of their organisation. Sometimes, they almost take it for granted that tourists behave the same way they did 20 years ago, and that they have the same needs. They are usually the same that wonder why their hotels receive so many negative reviews. in some cases they register performances which are below expectations, are not able to attract new guests and can hardly improve their loyalty.