I’m going on a really exciting holiday with my family in a few weeks time and I can’t wait. I have taken to spending hours, when I should be working, looking for information and pictures of our destination online. I once put a webcam feed of the Corfu beach we were heading to on my front page.
This behaviour is not uncommon! It is what drives millions of us onto Trip Advisor both before and after we’ve booked to feed that information hunger. But sadly there has been a lot of bad blood generated around the site recently.
Dragon Duncan Bannatyne is the latest hotel owner to talk about suing over a bad user review and according to the Guardian newspaper;
As many as 700 owners of guesthouses, B&Bs and hotels are joining forces over what they see as unfair reports
And on the website, Hotels Against Trip Advisor ;
The internet is alive with horror stories of hotel clients using TripAdvisor for blackmail (&), of rivals destroying their competitors reputations.
Bad blood indeed. But if it has taught us anything, the tide of publicity around the site has made us aware of the pitfalls of an otherwise very useful resource. So long as you don’t take Ida from Idaho as your benchmark for quality you will be ok.
My concern is for the honest hoteliers who get very upset by their critics – they get hugely frustrated and feel that there is nothing they can do. My advice?
Deploy The Social Media Shield.
I have written about it before and everything here still holds true. If you build a solid community through your chosen social media; Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or all 3, then your supporters are there, in a row (like ducks) when you need them.
I was reading just today in New Media Travel about some innkeepers in Vermont who were using social media to look after their guests from the moment they first connected, pre-booking, to long after they had left. Imagine the benefit of managing expectation from your visitors?
You won’t feel like complaining to Trip Advisor if you know exactly what you are getting – what’s included and exactly what the hotel can provide. It is clear that a dialogue beforehand, even on the phone or by e-mail, can reduce cause for complaint and if they get to like you as well – then half the battle is won!
The Social Media Shield does have to be built before time though. You can’t suddenly conjure one up from thin air when trouble hits. I must disclose at this point that my work involves some social media for the hospitality industry and it is work that needs to be done each day. Little by little you meet new people, create relationships and you put that shield in place, because one day you might have to use it.