Published on Thursday, November 10, 2011

WTM: Why social media should be like a party

The average single hotel property now has 10,000 reviews on 50 websites and to read all of these reviews would typically take 25 days, according to an Internet consultancy.

Jakob Riegger, managing director of Munich-based consultancy TrustYou, speaking at a social media seminar at WTM, estimated that a small hotel chain would attract enough reviews to provide 300 days’ reading.

He said hoteliers should use online reviews to their advantage and actually ask guests for them.

“It is actually very valuable. The response rate is very high, unlike if you leave cards in the room. International hotels get 10-15 times more reviews directly from their own guests than on online travel agencies and review sites.”

These reviews could then be collated and the good and bad points acted upon, he said.

Riegger said tourism authorities were increasingly using reviews to determine star ratings, with Switzerland and Germany already taking them into account.

Debbie Hindle, managing director of public relations company Four BGB, said social media was “the best possible customer research tool you will ever have in the world”.

She said it prompted “huge retention and advocacy”, was valuable in natural searches and was an excellent reward and sales channel.

Hindle said VisitBritain’s use of Facebook was an excellent example of how to attract interest.

“It’s bit like a party, it engages and rewards fans.”

Hindle said she disagreed with the idea that people did not want to buy in a social media environment, but added: “Social needs to be social, you have to listen to what they are saying, respond and then give extra value in order to convert.”

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