Reputation Management in the Age of the Instant Review
By Gary Kimball President, Kimball Communications | August 2014
The reputation of a hotel no longer rests primarily in the hands of the owners, managers or employees. Thanks to social media and review websites, guests are controlling and shaping the reputations of hotels large and small every day. Consumers review, compliment and castigate hospitality businesses using Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Yelp and other sites and apps.
Such "word-of-mouth" reviews have changed how hotels can and should manage their precious reputations. With the 24-hour social media day, they have also changed when hotels should be paying attention to their reputation. As a result, hotels must be proactive if they are to play a role in shaping their brand reputations, which includes mitigating any damage from disgruntled guests.
Guests Take Control
Not all travelers bring their computers on every trip, but they have their smartphones and tablets. Where they have mobile devices, they have apps. And where there are apps, there is social media. People can read others' reviews, check in and rate, review and photograph their travel experience. And when they complain, they may not call customer service. They may simply post on social media – at any time of the day or night.
By proactively participating in social media, hotels can influence whether these engagements are positive or negative, as well as remedy issues of concern more quickly.
Several hospitality heavyweights have demonstrated how to successfully engage with fans and critics on social media. Marriott, for example, introduced a program where customers can earn rewards points for participating in social media tasks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare. The hotel chain also asks guests to share content using specific hashtags. The program not only improves Marriott's social media reach but also entices point-hungry customers to share positive content about their Marriott experience, which will increase Marriott's online reputation even more.