Social Media and Reputation Management
By Riko van Santen Vice President Electronic Distribution, Louvre Hotels Group | February 19, 2012
Content is King
Traditionally, one of the key areas that hotels focus on is the optimising of its content to provide the market with relevant and rich data of its property, in order to maximise revenues.
From a content perspective, the arrival of social media changed the way consumers were served information of a hotel – hoteliers who until recently relied upon their formal presentations on the (brand) websites, the GDS channels, 3rd party booking sites (OLTA's) and printed directories or glossy brochures – now faced the challenge of having their hotel description in forms of reviews and discussions, spreading rapidly without having much say in the matter. Hoteliers needed to understand and grasp this new dynamism of hotel reviews, feedback, comments, and even photos and videos, posted by individuals, where the good, the bad, and the ugly of guest experiences were blending together all at once. The internet was no longer a medium for one way content delivery, and we were fast moving into the so called Web 2.0 environment.
When review sites began appearing during the past decade (difficult to imagine that Tripadvisor is almost 12 years old already) many hotel chains began assisting their hotels to understand this phenomenon, and focus on both the risks and the opportunities.
The risks were clear – negative reviews could damage the reputation and business could suffer, especially in competitive destinations where consumers are presented various alternatives to your property. Hotel chains began implementing processes to include checks on such review sites, to ensure they are aware of any harmful comments and are able to follow up on them. This often took years to get fully integrated into the hotel operations' daily routine, as, even today, many hoteliers still may not understand the full scale of and impact these reviews have on their business.
The opportunities, however, were not immediately evident. The concerns of negative reviews overshadowed the unique tool hoteliers now had to be able to assess their product and service, and to achieve a deeper understanding of how guests experienced their hotel. Hotels often still relied on guest questionnaires and forms – both online and offline, as the primary means of customer feedback. But online guest reviews would offer a larger information base to harvest guest perception from, where guests seemed more willing to offer candid feedback of their experience.
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