What We’ve Learned About Hotels and Social Media
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Tags: Social Media Travel Industry Travel reviews. TripAdvisor
We find it’s getting more and more difficult for hotels and resorts to present a consistent brand image. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia are among the most visited sites in the world, and they all thrive on user-generated content that can chip away at a hotel’s reputation. A new generation of mobile apps, many of which we use on our travels, make it ever easier for customers and potential customers to share their opinions. Add in Yelp, Google+ and TripAdvisor to the mix and suddenly a company’s online reputation is at the mercy of anyone with a laptop, WiFi connection and a grudge.
Online reviews and customer feedback , such as newjetsetters.com, are affecting bottom lines throughout the world, as personal experience and feedback have become the prime motivators in customer decision making. A recent MSNBC poll showed that 86% of travelers use online review sites when deciding on hotel accommodations. You can understand why hotels are tracking, responding to, and, in some cases, soliciting reviews for TripAdvisor and other online review sites.
Monitoring and tracking social media mentions and exposure is getting easier for hotels. Tools like Revinate, ReviewPro and Chatter Guard help hotels keep track of what’s being said about them, but the big question is “are they effectively reacting to this new input?”. Are they protecting and enhancing their online reputations? In our opinion, the answer is both yes and no.
On our last trip to Europe we visited six properties that all “use” social media to some extent. In other words, they have Facebook and Twitter accounts as a minimum. We contacted them pre- and post-visit to judge their responsiveness, both to potential customers and to recent customers comments. Taking into account that two of the properties simply did not respond, we measured the degree of positive interaction with the remaining four, and estimate that their social media strategy was about 65% effective. This was simply a little exercise for our benefit, and in no way represents the industry in general. In fact, we have many amazing examples of extremely responsive and effective social media interaction with both small boutique hotels and larger 5 star resorts. But what it does show is that some properties are still missing a tremendous marketing opportunity and a chance to connect with their customers.
We are finding that “industry insiders” are reacting more and more to the power, both positive and negative, that online review sites such as TripAdvisor hold by promoting reviews on other consumer-generated sites like Frommers, Yelp or Rand McNally. We also see more guest satisfaction surveys and guest preference surveys along with customer reviews on individual hotel websites. Positive reviews are also being posted on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds in an effort to” level the playing field”.
When we at New Jetsetters travel for work or pleasure, we focus on the total “guest experience”, and will only include reviews of properties that, in our opinion, offer our readers a positive experience, and that includes their social media interaction. One thing is certain: a traveler’s willingness to stay at a hotel is, and will continue to be, affected by the reviews of others.
Do you use travel review sites to help select accommodation?