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Managing Your Online Reputation in The Travel Industry

Internationally, the travel and hospitality industry generates nearly 7.6 trillion dollars per year. That’s a lot. If you work in these spaces, your online reputation is could be at stake. Unfortunately, most companies  struggle with how to properly manage their brand. As a result, they’re subjected to all manner of complaints.The importance of good customer service cannot be overstated. Great customer service is what constitutes an exceptional company, especially when it comes to hotels or airlines. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to take control of your brand, as you probably don’t want it in the hands of a pissed off customer.

It’s all about the feels

The travel industry is subject to customer service complaints, negative review postings, and health concerns. Well reviewed profiles on sites such as Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Oyster, etc. go a long way. Positive reviews and ratings on such sites build brand credibility for the consumer and strengthen a company’s external image.  It’s especially relevant to pay attention to these since 90% of consumers look here before booking a trip.

For any company, large or small, it’s an intelligent idea to have the following social app solutions in place:

  • Yelp
  • Trip Advisor
  • Oyster
  • Google
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

Passing with flying colors doesn’t apply here

Last year was a rough one for airline companies Delta, Spirit and United Airlines. In addition to numerous reports of customer service fiascos topping headline news, it was further compounded by viral social media posts.

While Delta will recover, the backlash of such poor actions hasn’t been forgotten. For example Spirit was voted one of the worst companies of all time according to Business Insider–and Google seems to agree with them. How Terrible are they? Pretty terrible (I’ve flown with them, they’re bad). Honesty and transparency with customers can go a long way. Showing your company’s commitment to customers is vital, especially if you want to take control of the image the media paints for you. Unfortunately, Spirit is notorious for doing everything wrong with the customer and sometimes, the fine print doesn’t cut it.

The common denominator in these attacks originates with a poorly handled situation relating to the consumer’s experience. A person buys a plane ticket, is then asked to de-board the plane (in this case forcefully), but at that moment do you know what occurs? See in the mind of the consumer, they need to get on that flight. Could be an emergency, could be a business trip, doesn’t matter. At that point your dealing with the loss of time and inevitable personal fallout for them missing their arrival date. Or they advertise extremely cheap airfare (Spirit) but turn around and hit you with $100 in baggage fees.

Unfortunately, I’ve run into the same problems that others customers seem to complain about.

It’s like surfing––and customers will ride the wave

Consumers essentially control brand credibility these days. Review sites typically rank high in Google search results, it provides an open platform for consumers vent or praise. Stay on point with customer service and deliver a great experience and you’ll be in clover. If you don’t, well…I’ll leave that to your imagination. Furthermore, engaging a company for a simple brand analysis and isolating where you should look for coverage (such as travel blogs and travel media) can make the difference.

If a customer’s stay wasn’t as advertised or mired with inconveniences (such as the plumbing not working), comping the customer’s night or giving them a discount of sorts can make the trip an enjoyable one. More importantly it can turn the negative review into a positive one. Large Hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton Hotels are great examples of companies that manage online reputation very well. Trust me, it pays off. General areas to focus on for improving your brand credibility are:

  • Excellent customer service
  • Controlled media assets
  • Excellent reviews
  • Strengthening of brand credibility
  • Continuous innovations in customer experience
  • Regular engagement on social media
  • (Most importantly) Doing everything in your power to make a customer’s trip a positive one

Building a brand takes work, it doesn’t happen overnight. But If you focus on these, things I guarantee your taking a step in the right direction.

 

Davie Reitze

About Davie Reitze

Davie Reitze is a father, photographer and marketer. Feel free to leave comments below!

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