A daring move on the part of hotel chain Accorhotels has the travel industry rethinking the role of social media in their marketing. Last year, Accorhotels began to post reviews of their chain from TripAdvisor on their websites, which means that visitors to these sites were able to see every review, the positive as well as the negative. Marketing analysts have reported on the power of social media sites like TripAdvisor, which can establish or ruin the reputation of a hotel chain.
But the move has been considered so bold because Accorhotels, well known for running Motel 6, is gambling that their customers are reading every review anyway and not receiving their information solely from company marketing, so they might as well make sources like TripAdvisor available to visitors to these social media sites in order to allow their customers to make up their own minds. The biggest bonus for hotel chains is that anyone who uses a site like TripAdvisor is able to report on or encourage their friends to try these hotels using Facebook or Twitter.
The shrewder entrepreneurs in the travel industry have already figured out how to utilize social media to their advantages.
Carnival Cruise Lines has benefited from “social bragging,” a phenomenon where vacationers will use social media sites to boast to their friends online about their good times as well as the affordability or customer service they received via social media sites that they might otherwise never visit. However, they might also use Tweets or their Facebook status updates to note their excitement before they even leave on vacation. Carnival has taken advantage of social bragging by creating its own Facebook page which has over a million subscribers and poses open-ended questions for them to answer, thus offering its customers (and potential customers) a feeling of inclusion. Though Carnival also uses Youtube, the videos they create always debut first on Facebook.
Four Seasons relies heavily on social media worldwide. The catch, however, is that some customers outside theUnited Statesrequire training on how to navigate the potentially tricky world of the internet. Friends and fans benefit, however; following the chain on Twitter affords viewers with photo streams that can lead them toward a particular vacation destination.
Bad online reviews has more power to hurt a travel business compared to one dealing in products, which can be returned if a customer is dissatisfied. There is no fix for a bad travel experience, however. And while it is understandable why even one bad review can make hotels twitchy, they need to understand that, when booking their vacations, most travelers are going to check out reviews from places like TripAdvisor. Any chain that utilizes their widget demonstrates to their customers that they are confident in their business, therefore “you should be too.” As vacationers rack up travel rewards credit cards, they’re going to need somewhere to spend all that hard-earned money. The more experienced traveler knows how to sort out good reviews from the bad ones and those that might be fake, and they’re going to do it using social media.