Skift Take

This is a decent exit for the investors in ReviewPro and a wake-up call to a Western hotel industry ignoring China's tech scene. But it is also a validation of ReviewPro's particular approach of giving hotels actionable analytics on guests for sales and marketing, and revenue management -- and not just monitoring TripAdvisor ratings.

ReviewPro, the reputation management and hospitality analytics firm, has been acquired by Hong Kong-based Shiji, a hotel software company that is part-owned by Alibaba, the companies said.

Shiji paid about $28 million to take 79.47 percent ownership in the startup, in a deal that placed a $35 million valuation on the company.

Founded in 2009, ReviewPro had raised 5.5 million euros (about $6.7 million at the exchange rates in July 2013 in funding — including 3 million ($4.1 million) from Active Venture Partners, a venture capital fund in Barcelona. The fund (and other minority shareholders, except for the founders) sold all of their shares as part of the deal.

Barcelona-based ReviewPro claims that it is profitable and that it serves more than 30,000 hotels, including Meliá, Kempinski, Loews, citizenM, Jurys Inn, and Marco Polo, in more than 100 countries. It touts a roughly 90 percent renewal rate.

Its acquisition comes a couple of years after an aborted effort by ReviewPro to raise additional funding, as Skift reported.

RJ Friedlander, founder and CEO of ReviewPro, says the Shiji’s investment will be used to help scale up his 64-employee company internationally, particularly in China. He says his company will also develop new services that enable hoteliers to efficiently aggregate, organise and manage their online reputation and presence in leading social media.

“No one wants more data,” he says, “They want actionable insight.”

ReviewPro was part of a class of guest-data vendors (including TrustYou and Revinate) that started out by doing online reputation management for hotels. But they have since strategically taken different paths.

ReviewPro has worked to unify guest data (typically siloed in an online reputation management tool and a survey provider tool), analyze the information, and draw so-called actionable insights from it in dashboards that combine with other software systems.

Friedlander explains: “Typically hotels have online reputation provider and a survey provider as separate data sets, and you have the head of operations, or the revenue manager, or the head of sales, going in and pulling together what’s relevant to them and interpreting it. We pull the data together and create department-level analytics that integrate with other tools a hotel may use, to give quick glances at trends.”

Friedlander cites Red Lion Hotels as integrating ReviewPro’s guest surveys with demand management and revenue optimization tools from Duetto and customer relationship and marketing tools from Cendyn.

There has been a recent reshuffling in the guest-data vendor scene, with TrustYou acquiring Checkmate and Revinate raising funding.

Revinate, ReviewPro’s main competitor in the U.S., has raised five times as much funding. TrustYou has strategically emphasized its partnerships with metasearch platforms like Google. Revinate has emphasized, among other things, marketing tools for extracting more dollars from guests.

The Shiji acquisition is interesting in that it could bring guest review management tools into Chinese social networks and do a better analysis of Mandarin-written reviews — something we’ve noted has been lacking.

Shiji is a 3,000-employee company that is somewhat comparable to the Oracle/Micros of China in that it has about two-thirds of upscale Chinese hotel brands using its services. Founded in 1998, Shiji became a hotel IT system provider in China. It then moved from domestic platforms and hardware into international software services.


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Tags: china, mergers and acquisitions, reviewpro, Shiji, ugc

Photo credit: ReviewPro, which enables hotels to analyze reviews and engage with guests, was acquired by China's Shiji, a hotel software company. ReviewPro

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