Getting a Grip on Your Online Reputation

The Internet and, in particular, the social media has totally altered the way accommodation providers conduct their business. A decade ago no one had ever heard of online reputation management. Now it invades every decision that is made in the hospitality industry.

Paolo Torchio of Sabre Hospitality Solutions maintains “Travellers are dramatically increasing the volume of data they publish to the web – both intentionally and unintentionally. Cross-posting between social media networks and increased integration means that a single activity by one person may be posted across 10 different websites. There is a lot of chatter on the social web and not all of it is feedback we can use if left unfiltered.

“If your organisation doesn’t have the right systems and procedures to gather insights, you can quickly become paralysed by the overwhelming volume of data.”

Technology can certainly give you an advantage over competitors in this area. By using one of the many reputation management tools such as ReviewPro, you can identify and act on opportunities that your competitors miss.

Torchio suggests accommodation providers should “create position-specific reporting that executives, managers and frontline staff can use immediately in their day-to-day jobs.

Insights need to be simple and there must be no confusion on what action should be taken. It should not require a ‘guru’ to interpret. 2011 is becoming the year of the practitioner, not the guru. If we are going to make social media analysis something everyone takes part in, then we need to simplify it so non-specialists can understand the action steps needed.”

Some 75% of people don’t believe that companies tell the truth in advertisements, according to a Yankelovich study. Nielsen research indicates that 9 out of 10 consumers believe another consumer like them more than they believe corporate messaging. For accommodation providers used to controlling the communication people hear about them online, this can be an unpleasant awakening.

The new reality requires us to take a different approach to the way we promote our accommodation businesses. We must understand how much the customer is in control and how we have to market in this new reality.

Torchio insists you must “encourage your guests and supporters to act as salespeople”.

“Instead of just being limited to the salespeople within your organisation, plan a way to mobilise your entire customer base to act as brand ambassadors – selling for you,” stresses Torchio.

“Design remarkable experiences that get guests talking. Consistently deliver extraordinary service, so guests feel safe and comfortable referring their friends. And then actively encourage guests to share this experience with others online. When you’re confident in the product you deliver, this should be easy.”

Expedia’s VP of supply strategy and analysis, Brian Ferguson, maintains that a 1 point increase in a review score (on a 5-point scale) equates to a 9% increase in average daily rate. At the point we are right now with hotels struggling to recover from the global economic crisis and with no more cost cutting options available, measures that increase conversion rates and increase ADR are critical.

Torchio explains, “Real-time social media tools and a solid response program are directly connected to higher revenue and increased customer engagement. Look into adapting a set of social media tools that will work together to maximise your interactions with customers, increase your conversion opportunities across the social web and notify you anytime someone mentions your hotel in social media, enabling you to respond quickly.”

And you thought you were getting a grip on social media marketing …

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