Beyond TripAdvisor: What Hotel Execs Fail to Consider in Reputation Management
By Kent Campbell Chief Strategist & Managing Director, InternetReputationManagement.com | September 23, 2012
As a busy hotel executive, nearly every segment of your property looks to you for your insight and expertise. Your online reputation is what cybershoppers and potential guests use to decide if they would like to visit your property and managing your internet reputation is key in today's "I want it now" climate where hotels rely so heavily on review sites such as TripAdvisor. What should you know? What should you consider? And how best do you work to serve your existing guests so that you can continue to garner rave reviews and attract new customers to your property? There are many fine points to consider when managing your online reputation but perhaps the two most pertinent issues to fully address and understand are 1.) Knowing exactly who is making promises to your consumers and 2.) Making sure your operations deliver the promises being made.
Misalignment Between Expectations and Experience
Many bad reviews sprout from a mismatch between customer expectations and reality. If your property caters to a younger set, an older couple may be a prime candidate for a bad review. Sure, you might think you know the expectation that is being set for your property, but do your homework and review your marketing materials again, both online and offline. Look for what promises are being made, both stated and implied. Pictures, videos, text, omitted facts, exaggerated statements – all of these contribute to a potential customer's expectations as a whole. You're marketing assets may do a good job of getting people in the door, but do they get the right kind of clientele? This is an important consideration because the short-term gain from a guest that is a bad fit may pale in significance to the bad review that couple might leave for the property. Remember, that review will probably appear just under your website in online search results. Such is the whim of the Google gods.
They May Actually Be Out to Get You
Guest satisfaction may not be the only challenge. According the Social Science Research Network, small hotels may not only have more incentive to fake their own reviews, but may have incentive to fake negative reviews for their larger neighbors:
"…We show that the hotel neighbors of hotels with a high incentive to fake have more one- and two-star (negative) reviews on TripAdvisor relative to Expedia." An article on Time.com goes into quite a bit of detail about this problem. Anti-competitive behavior like this is a reality, but instead of lashing back (which is only human of you to want to do), find more productive ways to deal with the problem. Report the fake reviews to TripAdvisor or Google, or work to drown out the negative sentiment with a concerted review effort conducted by your staff and reminding happy customers to post online.