Marketers need to take charge of customer review sites

ABTA Malta: Customer opinion sites, such as TripAdvisor, carry far more positive reviews than negative and the travel industry should not be afraid of engaging with reviewers.

TripAdvisor’s director of sales Martin Verdon-Roe says that 76% of reviews on his site rated hotels at three stars or above when addressing an audience at The Travel Marketing Forum in Malta on social media.

Allaying the fears of hoteliers and others in the travel industry, he adds that people “focus on the best things. Overall, more people are talking about what to do than what not to do.”

Social media expert Charlie Osmond of FreshNetworks gave advice on handling review sites and says: “You might not be in control of your brand but that does not mean you cannot be in charge. You can syndicate positive reviews and build up teams of advocates.”

He adds that hoteliers “scared of the power” of Tripadvisor had to take charge and help generate reviews, for instance by placing a PC in hotel foyers and urging guests to write reviews as they leave.

Osmond said that there is a danger to rush into social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook because competitors are in the space but marketers need a strategic plan.

“In the long run half of all companies will get less than average returns for social media. Those getting a sustained competitive advantage are those companies using it in a strategic way.”

Richard Tams, head of sales and marketing at British Airways, says that consumer opinion is expressed 24/7 and not nine to five “so resource accordingly.”

TripAdvisor is currently facing a class action from US hoteliers who believe that negative reviews on its site have verged on the defamatory.

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