Hilton, Marriott, and Four Seasons (in that order) have the highest “Conversational Relevance” in online discussions among leisure and business travelers, according to an analysis by Brodeur Partners and MavenMagnet focused on what is "relevant" in online brand conversation.

Brodeur’s Conversational Relevance scale is a measure of how much people are talking about a brand and how impactful and positive that conversation is. Brodeur and MavenMagnet parsed more than 18,000 online conversations across social networks, profiles, forums, news websites and blogs. According to Brodeur chief executive Andy Coville: “We wanted to go beyond speculation and opinion, and really see what drives online behavior—in this case, conversation—around different hotel brands.”

“We looked not only at practical considerations but at how the brands resonated with hotel guests’ senses, values and social needs, which are the other dimensions of Brodeur’s relevance model,” adds Jerry Johnson, Brodeur executive vice president of strategic planning. “When a brand is engaging all four dimensions, it inspires strong feelings and an abiding loyalty in those who experience it.”

The analysis examined each of 10 brands’ attributes through Brodeur’s four relevance pathways:
• Functional: Practical attributes people care about like service, location, rooms, recreation and rewards programs. Comments in this area dominated the conversation about hotels. Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton were the winners here.
• Sensory: Attributes that appeal to all five senses like the view and water pressure in the shower (which surprisingly eclipses bed comfort in online attention). Ritz-Carlton and Hilton led the category.
• Values: Attributes that reflect personal values such as the hotel’s service ethic and commitment to indulging patrons. Four Seasons dominated.
• Social: Attributes related to customer status, such as the brand’s cachet. Four Seasons dominated here, too.

The analysis further broke down results between leisure and business travelers. Room cleanliness, for example, means more to business travelers than leisure travelers. It’s the other way around for recreation. And leisure travelers were broken down further still, between those traveling with children and those without. The Ritz-Carlton was particularly popular in conversations in the former category, and recreation was paramount for families.

Among the other key findings:
• Service and location are the biggest “functional” conversation drivers.
• Accessibility, both to the hotel and nearby amenities, drives nearly two-thirds of online conversations about the “functional” attributes of a hotel.
• When it comes to conversations about rooms, size matters, closely followed by connectivity and technology.
• People talked about the “values” of a brand in terms of what kind of service they received, having a “service first” culture and being responsive. A particularly important element that drove online conversation was a hotel staff’s responsiveness and personal attention to individual needs.
• That a hotel’s “luxury” or “indulgence” is a symbol of status and achievement drove a considerable amount of conversation among business and leisure travelers; however one-third of that discussion was negative.
• By far the biggest driver of conversation among business travelers is whether a hotel is considered “best in class.” Social relevance for leisure travelers derives more from peer reviews.