Adele Gutman is the Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Revenue for the Library Hotel Collection. The Library Collection’s properties are consistently ranked among the top ten of the 434 hotels on TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index for New York City. We caught up with Adele at the New York City Master Class to get her perspective on what’s changed since she spoke at our first Master Class back in 2010, and what the future holds.
You were part of the Master Class in New York in 2010. What’s changed in your business since then?
In New York City, a lot of fabulous new hotels have opened since 2010. As a result, we’ve been laser-focused on cultivating a great culture that centers on continuous improvement. We’re always asking ‘How can we be better tomorrow … and the next day?’ The highly vocal TripAdvisor community allows us to bring the voice of the traveler into the board room so that we can make sure our decisions and investments are in harmony with our priority of making guests happy.
How do you think your business will change in the next three years?
We really want to focus on getting direct business through our own website – something every hotel group is thinking about. TripAdvisor is a great way to bring people directly to your website, especially with Business Listings. The site also drives travel demand for New York City and helps it grow. When people share their experiences in our city, it inspires others to travel here. TripAdvisor helps us shift from getting a larger slice of the same size pie to making the pie bigger for everyone.
I am confident that times will change, technology will change, but the trend of customers sharing their experiences with others will not. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to user-generated content. It’s a good thing because it makes people braver and more confident when trying independent hotels like ours. We have no marketing budget, but TripAdvisor helps us be seen by people across the world. Travelers can see everything from our photos to our special offers and hear from thousands of previous guests.
Are you using TripAdvisor differently now, three years later? Has it changed?
We first started focusing on TripAdvisor and our reviews in 2004 and we’ve never wavered from that. Now TripAdvisor offers more tools like Special Offers and Announcements. We’re using Special Offers, in particular, to post our best deals to TripAdvisor and encourage guests to book directly. We’re also testing the Mobile Upgrade at some of our properties and we love the Property Dashboard. It shows us how many people have visited our page and searched for our city, how far in advance they’re researching, and more. It really informs our messaging.
Overall, TripAdvisor is far more powerful than it was in the past, giving us some phenomenal traffic and tools. And working with TripAdvisor is much easier now as well. We get responses to inquiries and have any problems rectified very quickly.
How does TripAdvisor help you run your hotels?
We have always listened to our customers. In the past, we asked them about their experiences. TripAdvisor takes this to a new level and enables guests to share details that – as hard as we tried – they would not share with us directly. We believe that we can learn something from each review, even 4 and 5 star reviews show how we can continue to improve in the future.
We take action on each of these suggestions and consider, ‘Can we really do that?’ or ‘We already do that – how could we communicate it better?’ It’s not the guests’ job to communicate with us, it’s our job to let them know that we’re here for them if they want to share with us. TripAdvisor gives us insights into the guest perspective by providing us with constant feedback so we can strengthen our skills and grow our business every day.
Adele Gutman and team with Ollie at the New York City Master Class