Online Reputation Management - How Important Is It Really?

By Jane Coloccia President & Chief Creative Officer, JC Communications, LLC | February 09, 2014

If youre keeping abreast of hot topics in hotel trade publications and at industry conferences, youll notice there is quite a lot of chatter about online reputation management. Some hoteliers seem to be fixated on what guests are saying about them on TripAdvisor, Facebook, and in OTA review columns; others display a modicum of concern and wonder if they should be doing anything about them; and then there is a group that frankly, just doesnt give a damn. So where do YOU fall?

There was a time when all you had to worry about with regard to the reputation of your hotel was the actual physical appearance of the property, the professionalism of your staff, efficiency of operations, how your brochure and collateral materials looked, and what bona fide journalists said about you. Then the worldwide web arrived and opened up a new can of worms. Suddenly you needed to think about a website presence, then it had to have a booking engine, e-mail marketing was rearing its ugly head, and not being a technologically savvy bunch, hoteliers seemed quite overwhelmed.

Fast forward to circa 2014, and now there are all of these social media sites to contend with. But in the grand scheme of things, they dont really matter right?

Dead Wrong

The White House Office of Consumer Affairs reports that A dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.

A decade or two ago, a guest would come stay at your hotel and have a bad experience with a dirty room or a surly front desk clerk. Maybe they would complain to you, perhaps they would tell their spouse when they got home if the situation was still bothering them. And then MAYBE it would come up in party conversation a week later when a friend inquired about their trip.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.