Social Media: How Will The Tourism Industry Find The Traveler?
Patrick Wassel, Head of Digital Strategy, Faktor 3 AG, a firm specializing in online strategy, at ITB Berlin 2013 brought experts together to discuss the effectiveness of social media as a rating and feedback platform, in the travel industry.
His pretext summarizing social media through an informationsearching traveler?s eyes: ?I do not want to read a lot of text, I only want to make a quick decision.?
Dirk F?hrer, Chief Commercial Officer, Steigenberger Hotels AG, one of Europe?s leading premium hotel brands, said that Steigenberger has already begun asking its guests to leave their feedback decades ago, ?a long time before the Internet age? the online method has only facilitated this process?.
F?hrer underlined how important it was for the Steigenberger Group to build up an online reputation, particularly via its guests? feedback. He believes that an online presence and feedback platforms is much more effective than traditional advertising means.
?We do not ignore social media. It is important to us! We want to know what people are saying about us on Twitter or Facebook, as well as on other sites, so as to understand every aspect of how our brand is being perceived. We want a 360 degree view?, he told the panel.
Response is a must within 48 hours
?More importantly to our receiving feedback is our responding to it within 48 hours,? F?hrer added The Steigenberger Manager is not deterred by negative feedback, since it makes the entire process ?credible?. He also knows that some customers simply cannot be placated, ?but we have to live with that?, he said.
He and his teams use customer feedback to identify issues and resolve them as quickly as possible. Benjamin Jost, CEO of Trust You, an online portal that gathers and semantically structures online opinions, reviews, posts and comments, said that online social networks are the sales channels of hotels, today. Trust You considers itself a reputation management adviser for hotels. They look into and respond to user feedback in a timely manner, providing their clients with analyzed data which, in time, drives hotel revenue.
Jost pointed out that Google+ and TripAdvisor are more important than Facebook or Twitter, because they are more ?feedback focused? and allow users make qualified decisions since they act as a sort of price and quality matrix.
Hotels profit climbs through guest reviews
?Our findings show that a hotel?s revenue goes up 5% per 30 reviews it receives?. Jost said. Reviews are not enough, however. Review distribution and data collection is equally as important, as a strategic tool to gain more positive reviews. ?Only then do we actually see revenues increasing,? Jost added.
Review distribution is important since different portals cater to slightly different clients. He recommends his customers, the hotels, encourage their customers to leave their feedback and ratings on particular platforms which might benefit them the most. ?So sometimes we recommend our clients to send their clients to TripAdivsor, at other times, we might see Google+ being more beneficial to them. For a specific clientele, we would recommend HRS, for example, ? Jost told the panel.
Benjamin Jost underlined that the biggest challenge for consumers today is filtering all the content that is available to them on the web ? being driven to the right site which will lead them to make a relevant travel decision.
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