Summer reviews trends: what data tells us

Now that summer is drawing to a close, we have enjoyed studying the trend of the sentiment on the Italian holidays, comparing the data with those of the same period in 2020 and in some case, even with those of 2019.

Which data? Well, every year Qualitando completed questionnaires give us a lot of data.

All precious material for reading and for interpretations of the changes in the satisfaction of guests in the Italian accommodation facilities.

To confirm the trends we extracted, our partners in crime and friends from Travel Appeal intervene, and we thank them!

And here is what came out:

First, for the reasons abundantly explained here  https://www.qualitando.com/en/reviews-travellers-august/, in summer the frequency, and therefore, the number of reviews written and published about the local accommodation facilities. The results show a physiological slight drop in scores and of the general sentiment which, despite everything, remains high, at 86.7%.

B&Bs and shelters seem to be the best of all, with 90.8% for B&Bs and 90.1% for shelters, respectively.

The lowest performances  are recorded for camping sites (85,1%) and residences/apartments (84%).

The reason of these results is intuitive: as per reputation the winners are the facilities where the staff is able – due to the size of the facility and natural inclination – to keep a closer and more active relation with the guests.

People, relations, once more make the difference.

In a B&B the landlord prepares your breakfast and pampers you like she was a mother when you come back home to the village after a session of exams in the city, whilst in the residence you now enter with a pin that opens all the gates and you don’t see a soul for the whole length of your stay, if not other travellers wishing to avoid any human contact (and save).

In all this, hotels and Agritourism facilities keep being, anyway, the points of interest with most reviews, covering about 63% of the total of the reviews.

In the picture below:

Who are these writers?

In 2021, for 63.6% they are Italians.

For the rest, foreigners, but from close countries such as Germany with 9% and France 4.7%. We know the reasons: travelling by car this summer was easier than taking a plane.

For the same reason, we also see slight movement from other proximity markets, such as Switzerland and Austria.

Americans, who so much love and are loved from the coasts of Campania and Liguria regions, as well as from the art cities, have been really, just a few.

The degree of satisfaction expressed is down on all markets, compare to all markets, compared to 2020, excepted France, who appreciated Italy a bit more.

As usual, the most active types of travellers were couples, immediately followed by families.

For the reasons we know more than well (Covid and its consequences as smart working and difficulties to travel), business trips are the lowest of all.

The sentiment, even in the types of trips, records a decrease compared to 2020. Groups of friends are an exception, but they declare themselves more satisfied than the previous summer.

The most popular topics

We are not at surprised about the topics most covered in the reviews, which are:

  • Catering
  • Staff
  • Rooms

CATERING

Let’s start with catering. We know that the eating factor is a fundamental key of the holiday, so there is a lot of chatters on the portals about this topic.

In the case of hotels, breakfast is the more discussed topic. Il general Sentiment is not of the highest (85%) and this means that the customers often complain about this aspect.

The reason is obvious: today the expectations for breakfast are extremely high. People in hotels expect to find a sumptuous buffet. The summers 2020 and 2021 saw a reorganization of the breakfast to adapt it to the requirements of the anti-covid protocols.

Where the buffet was kept, had to be protected with glass or plexiglass and, to go from do-it-yourself to served.

Other hotels decided to adopt the system of breakfast menus of your choice, served at the table.

In both case the perception of the guest was often something like: “This year there’s less food, less variety and there’s a queue”.

In both case the perception of the guest was often something like: “This year there’s less food, less variety and there’s a queue”.

The question of queues and therefore of waiting is not easy to manage. It essentially depends on two factors:

  • available space
  • quantity of personnel assigned to the service

To confirm the trend, here are Qualitando data on catering:

2019 –> 85,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2020 –> 77,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2021 –> 83,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

We noted that also the cluster “service”, strictly related to “catering”, follows the same trend:

2019 –> 85,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2020 –> 80,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2021 –> 83,3 % di ospiti soddisfatti

A decrease in 2020, for the reasons above explained, and a recovery in 2021 which, however, does not reach the high level prior to the pandemic.

STAFF

In second place of the most discussed topics is the staff above all, understood as hospitality, service and welcoming. We know that in many cases it is the staff who ‘make’ the hotel and not the facility itself.

The sentiment is very good (93,2%) and this means that the hotels in Italy still emerge for the high level of welcoming and hospitality they reserve to the visitors.

It seems clear that our smile is genuine even under the mask.

According to the data collected from Qualitando qualitative questionnaires from the guests it emerges that the topic “reception” presents this trend:

2019 –> 91,3 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2020 –> 88,3 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2021 –> 88,3 % di ospiti soddisfatti

Another cluster similar to the “staff” topic is “entertainment” or  animation, which trend is similar to that of the reception:

2019 –> 88 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2020 –> 74,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2021 –> 78,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

In pre-covid times in general, the staff used to get very high scores.

We know that for the guest usually the staff corresponds to the people at the reception, the entertainers, and some waiter/waitresses, that is the figures who are in fact, most in contact with the guest.

With the pandemic and the  need to comply with distancing rules, many facilities have noticeably reduced their usual weekly entertainment schedule.

By reduction we mean fewer hours, fewer actitivies, especially indoors and, above all, the limitations of the number of participants admitted at the same time to games and workshops.

Many guests experience these protocol adjustments as a deprivation.

It was no longer possible to flock to the bureau, or stop for long chats with the secretaries, who, being compliant as they were, they had to tense up a little, being responsible for observing the new safety regulations.

Plexiglass and masks create a barrier also to empathy, this is clear for everyone, therefore, managing complaints has become more difficult.

Here’s explained the decreasing trend in 2020, with a lighter rise in 2021, but never to the levels of 2019.

THE ROOM

Another very present topic in reviews, as we know, is the room.

According to data extrapolated from Qualitando, it is interesting to note the growing trend of the guest satisfaction over the past 3 years:

2019 –> 82,3 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2020 –> 83 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2021 –> 83,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

Over the last 2 years, due to the prolonged closures due to covid, many are the facilities that took advantage for small and large renovations, or simply to make those improvements able to transform an ‘ok’ holiday into a great one.

An example? Replacing mattresses, soundproofing, change of fixtures and fittings, a more spacious shower.

SAFETY AND CLEANING

The topic safety is not among the most discussed and the related sentiment is among the lowest: 49,9%.

With the lowering of the guard and the vaccination campaign advancing, even the anti-covid rules, that until June recorded a good sentiment (85%), now show a decrease to 73%.

This data confirm that people want to be serene during their holidays, safely in a sanitized environment where the rules are observed.

Strictly related topic to the concept of safety is cleaning, cluster always present in Qualitando questionnaires. And here is the trend over the last 3 years:

2019 –> 88 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2020 –> 83 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2021 –> 86,6 % di ospiti soddisfatti

2020 recorded a decrease of the guest satisfaction, who, at the reopening of the season arrived at the hotel with a thousand fears and feeling of seeing the virus everywhere.

The normal, usual, even though deep traditional cleaning wasn’t enough any longer. Strict protocols that everybody know were introduced and the guests (understandably) could only trust the hotel guaranteeing the “sanitation” as, we know, viruses and bacteria are not visible to the naked eye.

The trend in 2021, rises again but it doesn’t reach the pre-covid levels. The accommodation facilities have correctly adopted the sanitation procedures that are no longer perceived as a novelty but as a habit.

However, the guest’s attention to maximum hygiene remains very high and the level of tolerance towards carelessness in cleaning the rooms is almost nil.

As regards as safety, anyway, the most recurrent word in the reviews is “Coronavirus”, followed by “mask” and “anti-covid rule”.

To conclude, our data tells us about another trend that should be noted:

Always considering the reference period of time from June to August, Tripadvisor remains the most used review portal, but over the 3 analysed years, 2019, 2020 e 2021, it recorded a decline that other portals did not have.

HolidayCheck and Local Guides are more and more stronger, while Facebook remains stabile.

This means that it is increasingly important to supervise all channels, which thanks to the support of Qualitando interfaces is simple and immediate.

Reviews under the beach umbrella

Prepare to face the storm of justified criticism … and not.

In some areas of Italy, such as the Riviera Romagnola, they are called “the Augustans“. As you guess, the term does not properly enclose a compliment.

It is rather a sort of label that hoteliers virtually assign to travellers in the month of August. Not infrequently, in this period, to address a waiter who shows signs of seasonal fatigue, he is told: “Watch out for the Augustans, huh !?”

A threat, and we know why. They are relentless with those keyboards. They write a lot on review portals and they also write for those who have travelled in the previous months. Who knows why?

We do have some answers. But first, however, let’s keep in mind that it is good to receive a large number of reviews because the algorithms are based not only on the quality of them, but also on the quantity and frequency.

If they were all beautiful, that would be great. Instead, August is precisely the month in which hotels often receive the only negative – or borderline – reviews of the year.

Some food for thought:

In August holidays cost more.

Tourists know well that a week in June, maybe for 4 people and in a better room, would cost them much less than in August. This awareness leads them to expect everything to be perfect, especially the service

Speaking of which…

Could it be that the level of service drops, right in August?

Unfortunately, yes. It happens because the staff begins to feel a certain tiredness. They already have 2 or 3 months of work behind them, and this is the time when activities such as themed dinners, musical evenings, beach parties (all dressed) in white, tastings of local oil, cooking school and so on and so forth are intensified. And even more!

Not to mention the stress of the organization of the! Ferragosto party! This is the period of brainstorming with the department heads and the animators to define the theme of the century, strictly after midnight, as the next morning you are all still anyway up at 5.30

From the 14th evening to the 15th afternoon, delirium reigns supreme in the hotel. Treasure hunts, guests divided into teams, water balloons and confetti! Among all this, the waiters bring the tables up and down – Don’t you want to please the Ferragostans who expect to dine by the pool and not in the dining room like every day, don’t you?

Ferragosto is like New Year’s Eve: very high expectations. Everyone wants to be able to tell that they are in the coolest place that cooler cannot be.

We understand well that in such a context some oversight or slowing down in the service might happen. But, pity that the Augustan is often devoid of pity and understanding.

The post August 15th (Ferragosto day) is even more at risk.

Even if the day after Ferragosto you are tired – you hadn’t even done a crusade – you know that another exhausting month awaits you. Therefore, it is forbidden to relax! 😉

Crowd = Traffic = Tense nerves

The August tourist gets in his car and knows that he will be queuing up on the highway all day.

Only those who leave for the so-called ‘clever’ departures, like bedtime at 9 pm, wake up at 2 am, at 2.30 am in a car with sleeping children, are saved.

When they arrive at the hotel they are exhausted from the journey, anyway. So they are less inclined to tolerate any disservices.

Also, during their stay, whatever they want to do, they share it with hordes of like-minded humans. Whether it is getting an ice cream in the best ice-cream shop in the country, going to a water park or shopping downtown, it is always with a tide of – annoying – crowds.

The forced holidays

For all the reasons above described, who can avoids going on holiday in August and chooses better, more tranquil months.

This means that who goes on holiday in August does it because they have the work leaves just and only during this period.

They do not have any choice.

This condition is frustrating. Thus, frustrated guests, we know, should be pampered so that they don’t let off steam writing reviews on the portals.

Reflections on the cultural level (and civic sense)

By judging from the profusion of grammar mistakes, vocabulary that not even a 4-years old child would use, absent punctuation or in reckless excess, random abundance of capital letters, we can deduce that – in addition to hotel scores – in August it drops even quite a bit the cultural level of those who review.

On the other hand, the true gentleman avoids making his disappointment public, but, it is a case of endangered species, and those rare specimens that still remain, certainly do not travel in August.

So…pay extreme care to questionnaires given during and after the stay! During these weeks the role of this tool is crucial to help quickly solving the critical issues and compensating for the disappointment of the guests with extra care.

What guests say in the hotel questionnaires

A year of completed questionnaires, a year of opinions, a year of data.

At Qualitando we gathered the statistics related to the answers that hotel guests left in 2019 in the completed questionnaires about their hotel satisfaction and we are very pleased to share them in this article.

Which are the most mentioned words that guests mentioned in the hotel questionnaires?

  • Service and Staff
    According to the gathered data, in 2019 hotel guests mentioned the words “service” and “staff” more than  400 thousand times.
    They obviously happen to recur in both the positive and negative sense, but when they are positively mentioned they are often combined with very appreciative compliments. In short, when your hotel has a winning and smiling staff, it shows! But most of all, when the guests like and are pleasantly impressed by the staff of your hotel, they enjoy to let ou know writing a  review or leaving a comment about. And this cannot but be really very positive to improve your reputation in hotel and online.
  • Breakfast
    We know it quite well, don’t we? In lots, many hotels the beginning of a lovely, brand new day starts from their breakfast. Delicious tastes, attention to detail, exquisite dishes. Have you ever considered that breakfast time could be the one making the difference becoming a huge strength for your hotel? That strength that pushes your guests to recommend your property to their friends or to their followers on social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Even the statistics speak for themselves, the word breakfast is definitely the most present with 320.000 mentions in the section suggestions. What does this mean? That, when guests fill in a satisfaction questionnaire, they like to express their appreciation of their breakfast they enjoyed. And, in turn, when writing a review, surely they would recommend others to stay at your hotel right for the type of breakfast you offer! Among the data collected them, we discovered that an abundant buffet – one of those that make you crave just to look at it because it is overflowing with dishes and proposals – is highly appreciated.As a matter of fact, guests suggest to hotel managers to focus on the varieties that the quality, already perceived as good. The conclusione? Long live to creativity and to abundance in the kitchen!
  • Wifi
    A wi-fi connection allowing your guests to surf the internet quickly and easily is another aspect to take in good consideration. When we travel – most precisely when we arrive in a hotel – as guests we give almost for granted to take advantage of the strong Wi-Fi coverage to have a look at the social platforms, watching a video on YouTube, checking work emails, and, well, doing comfortably everything we would daily find at home. What surprised us by analysing the data of the questionnaires in hotel, however, is having noted that, just in 2019, the word wi-fi is mentioned in over 410 thousand written comments with critics and usually a negative meaning. 79% of these negative comments from the guests appear under the question “Do you have anything negative to report to the management?”.  Ensuring a comfortable, very fast loading Wi-Fi system means to be sure of offering a service much appreciated by your guests. Is your wi-fi connection available for the guests in all areas of your hotel, even in the shared ones, such as the restaurant/dining hall and in the lounge? Does it allow to watch, without lagging, movies or tv series on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime? If your answer is “Of couse, yes”, then you don’t have anything to fear.

Which, among the offered services receives the highest score in Wellness Hotel Questionnaires?

We examined 310 hotels out of 800 and noticed that the SPA section in the hotels where it is present, received an 84% satisfaction among the guests. In this section too, the highest scores are attributed to the facilities where the staff is kind, smiling and professional. In short, even with an aesthetically wonderful wellness program, what guests immediately notice is the way how they are welcomed.

It’s interesting to note how the foreign guests who stayed in facilities with a wellness centre gave for granted that this is a service included in their stay. But, actually, the access to the pool, the water trails, the sauna and the Turkish bath in most of the Italian hotels are accessory services that can be purchased on site only by buying certain packages or certain room types.

Another particularly curious fact is that guests who visited a SPA were not completely satisfied with the environments they later found inside. In fact, the satisfaction questionnaires for hotels by Qualitando revealed an overall satisfaction of 73%. Quite a low percentage. This shows that a SPA represents a significant cost for the  hotelier who, once initially invested for building their wellness centre, afterwards they don’t invest enough capital in maintenance, restyling e renewing.

Which are the first 5 regions in Italy where the hospitality is most appreciated?

It needs mentioning: this response would deserve an equitable distribution of the guests among the above-mentioned regions, but – in absolute terms – this is not the case.
That said, let’s get to the numbers! Qualitando questionnaires show that Trentino Alto Adige ranks first.

92% of the customers who stayed in a hotel in this region giving their votes to their experience that they would recommend to others.
Immediately after Trentino comes Tuscany. Here, 91% of the guests gives the top of their votes to the hospitality sense at the hotels they visited.

Immediately after Trentino comes Tuscany. Here, 91% of the guests gives the top of their votes to the hospitality sense at the hotels they visited.

Following, Calabria and Lombardy with l’86%.

The top 3 regions where catering is the most appreciated

We analysed the data and Emilia Romagna scores the first place.
Here 91% of the guests have prized  to the top Emilia Romagna’s dishes traditional flavours they enjoyed for their meals, and positively comment about breakfast time.

Trentino Alto Adige ranks immediately after, in second place. According to the results observed, here the “restaurant” section conquered the 86% of the guests, and the 82% also congratulate for breakfast.

In third place of the ranking we find, with equal merit, some region of Southern Italy, such as Calabria, Apulia, Sicily, Marche and Abruzzo. 79% of the guests in the hotels of these regions is happy of the culinary offer, and  77% of them also appreciate breakfast. Focusing on what hotel guests wrote on their satisfaction questionnaires, it is interesting finding out the many compliments for the abundance of the menu, and – at the same time – that ‘abundance’ is associated to dishes very rich in fat and not very summery. In the suggestions section we encountered a very frequent comment: that of expanding the daily offer of the locally caught fish.

Which are the topmost successful regions in Italy for their rooms? 

The collected data in monitoring the guests experience leave no doubts. As a matter of fact, on the podium for the most appreciated rooms by guests we find: Lombardy and Alto Adige!

In managing the guest satisfaction and to organize the services – passing through all the aspects that guests appreciate the most – from breakfast to wi-fi, having certain data for hotel managers is fundamental and very important.

Qualitando can give you a big hand in doing this.

If you too, would like to monitor the experience of your guests and  detect opinions automatically, contact us for a demo.