HT Score Poseidon Algorithm Update (Q3 21)
Hotel Tech Report consistently improves the HT Score ranking algorithm to incorporate variables and mechanisms that set out to productize buyer research and decision making criteria considered by savvy hotel tech buyers during the research, vetting and due diligence process to help hoteliers make better decisions, faster. Similar to Google's algorithm updates, HTR periodically rolls out updates to build upon and improve the scoring methodology over time.
The core purpose of this update is not to change the importance/weighting of the various quality signals in the scoring system, but instead to provide a more dynamic, consistent, and long-term scoring methodology that ensures an accurate, fair and current perspective of products in the market based on key buying decision criteria and real time data in the HTR platform.
The Poseidon algorithm update is outlined below in addition to tips for companies to optimize their presence, rankings and visibility. The Poseidon update will go into effect in mid-July '21 ensuring that all vendors have time to review the update and understand the potential implications that it might have on rankings.
All Reviews Are Not Created Equal...
Generally speaking, this group of updates takes into consideration something that has never been factored into the HT Score before which is that all reviews are not created equal. Old reviews aren't as important as new reviews, shallow reviews aren't as meaningful as in-depth reviews, lots of reviews from a small subset of clients aren't as representative as a few reviews from a large subset of clients and collecting lots of reviews at once tends to increase bias relative to a more sustainable long term feedback collection strategy. Below are additional details about the new criteria that will be factored into scoring in a dynamic way:
- Decay factor on review volume. Previously review volume in the category minimum review threshold was based on all time reviews with no difference between the important of a review from years ago to a review left today about a users current product experience. Now, the impact of reviews towards HTScore variables will evenly decay overtime over a 36-month period meaning that reviews older than 3-years will not be counted in terms of category average volumes. As a result, recent reviews will carry more weight than old reviews since they are more reflective of the current product and customer experience. This decay in weight will be gradual to avoid drastic and sudden changes.
- Review depth. Companies that build outstanding products that customers love develop strong communities of passionate customer advocates and product mavens who have insightful feedback about the product and take the time to engage in ways to support the development, growth and success of companies they love. Additionally, in-depth reviews provide more value to users by painting clear user scenarios, pros and cons to help buyers on HTR better understand the product offering available to make a more informed decision. For these reasons, in-depth reviews will now be factored in as a weighting variable (relative to review depth from peers in the same category) and an indicator of customer engagement and likelihood to recommend.
- Client bias (aka Share of Voice). Hotel Tech Report’s policy has historically been to accept reviews from multiple users at a single hotel due to the fact that every user has a unique opinion/viewpoint on software. Having said that, collecting lots of reviews from only a handful of customers that aren't representative of your overall customer base indicates potential risk of bias. Therefore, we will be implementing a maximum limit of 5 reviews/property that can be counted in scoring to eliminate potential bias from a small subset of customers that may not be representative of the overall client base.
- Customer centric processes. Companies who create a sustainable process to regularly collect reviews organically and steadily overtime indicate that customer feedback is at the heart of their organizational processes. As a result, companies who show stable review collection will be rewarded as a key indicator of organic review collection, strong internal feedback loops and customer centricity.
Static-->Dynamic Quality Signals
Last year the v1 additional bonus quality signals were introduced to the HT Score with binary static determination. This v1 implementation did not factor in the vast differences across products and categories ultimately rendering the quality signals with relatively little importance due to the fact that they were not dynamic. This update takes the old static variables and makes them dynamic within each category to ensure more accurate comparisons and assessments between products.
- Dynamic scoring updates. The following bonuses will move from binary fixed points into a dynamic scoring system relative to other products in the respective category for more accurate comparison: Global reach, partner recommendations, staying power, company resources
- Global coverage bonus. Historically the geographic reach bonus only factored in # of countries with 5+ reviews. The issue with countries is that some regions have dozens of countries (eg. Europe) and some only have a handful (eg. North America) but ultimately the key factor is likelihood that a vendor will be able to service a user in the global market place. To improve the effectiveness of the geo bonus and remove potential country inequality, a regional coverage variable will be added to the global reach bonus to provide a more accurate view of global market coverage. Regions include: North America, Europe, APAC, Middle East/Africa, South America
- Ecosystem health bonus. A new variable will be added for app ecosystem health that factors aggregate HTScores and ratings of all verified integration partners. Products with the highest quality app ecosystems not only have a higher probability of being able to effectively service more users in the global market place, but ecosystem health also serves as an indicator of engineering resources, company reputation and ability to deliver a more seamless customer experience through a holistically integrated tech stack of world class products.
The Good & The Bad (Examples of both)
|✅ Good||🚫 Bad|
|Showcase lots of recent reviews and customer feedback on your profiles that is reflective of the current product experience and customer relationships.||Few or no recent reviews with most reviews from a long time ago making it difficult for prospects to learn about the current user experience.|
|Collect reviews from a wide array of customers that provides a representative and unbiased sample.||Collect lots of reviews from only a handful of customers that isn't representative of your overall customer base and indicates potential risk of bias.|
|Create a sustainable process to regularly collect reviews organically and steadily showing that customer feedback is at the heart of your organizational processes and that hoteliers aren't pressured to leave reviews.||All of your reviews are collected within a short period of time indicating that feedback collection is not part of your team's internal processes and that hoteliers may have been bombarded with requests creating a stressful experience for users that can lead to bias and frustration.|
|Collect reviews from customers in each of the key regions you serve geographically to increase chances of having strong customer feedback that is relevant to HTR's global audience of hoteliers.||Collect reviews from hoteliers in a single geography which signals to the algorithm that you are a regional provider that may not be able to service many of HTR's global audience of hoteliers.|
|List and verify all of your integrations and collect recommendations from lots of your partners to show that your product and team are highly interoperable and come highly recommended by other top partners in the global ecosystem.||Only list and verify a few of your integrations and have minimal recommendations from other vendors in the community indicating to the algorithm and buyers that your company may be fairly nascent in the market and lacks a strong partner ecosystem.|
Tips to Optimize Your Rankings for the Upcoming Update
- 💡Tip #1: Make sure you have recent reviews that are reflective of the current product experience for buyers (Related to: Review decay)
- 💡Tip #2: Make sure you diversify your review collection and don't have all of your reviews from only a small number of hotels (Related to: Client bias)
- 💡Tip #3: Make sure you have a consistent and organic review collection process built into your team's workflows and avoid large burst campaigns that inundate and overwhelm clients (Related to: Erratic Collection Penalty)
- 💡Tip #4: Make sure you diversify your review collection across your customer base's geographic regions to maximize your global coverage and geo bonus (Related to: Global Coverage Bonus)
- 💡Tip #5: Make sure all of your integrations are listed and verified and you have as many recommendations from partners as you can to maximize your partner ecosystem bonus (Related to: Ecosystem health bonus)
Note: Please note that as with Google or any other ranking methodology, HTR's algorithm is proprietary and full disclosure of exact calculations has the negative consequence of leading to users attempting to game the system which is why the exact algorithm is not shared publicly. That said, HTR is committed to providing detailed documentation as well as the Reputation Report Card in the vendor dashboard to make sure it is simple and easy for your team to quickly assess the key drivers of the ranking methodology and identify ways to quickly and easily to optimize your rankings and presence.