We are constantly amazed by the lack of seriousness by which hotels, whether brands or independents, take online reputation management.
Yet many of these hotels will be the first to cry foul when Trip Advisor ‘allegedly’ publishes what they consider to be an unreasonable, or worse still, a fake review about their property and its customer service performance.
We will shortly be looking at the whole area of brand v independent hotels inn the online space with our on line travel partners Navarino. Watch out for this on our blog and also on http://www.navarinoservices.com/. What we do know from the on line review sites, is that independents consistently outperform their brand neighbours in many destinations countrywide, despite all the protestations of brand loyalty, brand standards, quality control inspections of branded hotels &c &c. Have a look and see how often e.g. a Holiday Inn or a Best Western hotel appears in the first page of results for a Trip Advisor destination search. At the time of writing this, only one well known brand hotel appears in the first 20 results for a search for Edinburgh hotels on trip Advisor. Yet these brands masquerade in the name of customer service and brand loyalty, when in fact many actually hide behind these terms.
Why – because corporate governance and all that baggage and impersonalisation that goes with it will never be a sub statute for the caring approach of professional private hoteliers – never – and worse still, many of the big brands just don’t ‘get it’..
So, independents, you have a competitive advantage staring you in the face in the reputation management field – SO USE IT.
A major myth I read about regularly is the potential massive contribution of SOCIAL MEDIA to reputation management. (Just about everything commercial about social media is ‘potential’) Let me tell you that Fascebook, Twitter and the like are the LAST PLACE to start to do anything reputation management. You need to take reputation management right out of the online social media space. Why’ because, as has been proved already, travel companies reputations can be dismantled and destroyed by these non-travel social media platforms.
The place to start is with the traveller reviews, notably those on trip Advisor, Expedia, Booking.com and LateRooms.com Figures ranging from 60-90% have been variously quoted in conflicting reports of how many travel shoppers consult with traveller review sites, notably trip Advisor, before making a travel or hotel room purchase decision (by whatever means). Hoteliers, if you are not managing your Trip Advisor and other TPI or review company reviews, not only will no amount of social media activity (as is often suggested by the so called ‘gurus’) make this good, but you are starting in totally the wrong place with ‘non-travel social media’ – as opposed to travel media reputation management and review sites on line. Travel media are not social, they’re commercial – remember this, big time.
Here at Innfinite we recommend ReviewPro as our preferred reputation management partner on line. This tool is fantastic, and a must have in any serious hotelier’s armoury of on line reputation management tools. For a tool such as Review Pro costs a fraction of any social media led attempt to centralise and regulate your on line reputation, and holds a staggering amount of useful management information about your own line reputation and your performance vis a vis your competitive set.
You need to have the mindset that you will listen to your customer segments and strive at all times to provide the service and servicers that they want, not what you want to give them. Differentiate. Have something unique. A reputation management tool like ReviewPro has the information, the travel review history that you need to do this, in a superbly organised, informative, business critical way.