Hotel reputation management in the age of the instant review

Yelp, TripAdvisor, Hotels.com… The web has given travelers have so many ways to evaluate, select, book and review hotels. How do hotels manage their reputations proactively and honestly?


Hotels must actively manage their online reputations.
Unique Hotels Group / Foter / CC BY-SA 2.0

Our president Gary Kimball has some advice, which he shares with Hotel Business Review:

Hotels should look at how they are allocating their precious marketing and public relations dollars. This means comparing the value of social media buzz to advertising and print and broadcast media coverage. A review in a popular blog or traditional media like The New York Times or Travel + Leisure can do wonders in building awareness. But those readers may still seek online reviews before making decisions.

Read more at HotelExecutive.com.

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Are Automated Posts the Best Solution for Your Social Media Efforts?

Many companies and the marketing and communications agencies that represent them use social media management tools such as SproutSocial, Hootsuite or Radian6 to manage their social media accounts.

Many social media professionals love the scheduling features of these tools. Often scheduling tweets and Facebook posts in advance is done to save time, but is this having a negative effect on your engagement?


keiyac / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

1. Don’t be a robot. If your company’s tweets are posted everyday at 10 am, noon and 2 pm, followers will notice that. It will seem like you are simply tweeting three times a day because that’s what you’re expected to do, not because you have genuinely useful or relevant information to share. Also, it seems robotic, like a real person didn’t take the time to craft the tweet him or herself.

2. Interaction goes both ways. If your posts are all scheduled, you will be missing opportunities to interact with your followers. Say someone asks a question on Facebook. Ideally you would respond to their question in a timely fashion. One way to be sure you catch notifications quickly is to have your social media management tool up in the background of your computer, so that while still working on other projects, you can occasionally check to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

3. Stay up to date on the news. If your posts for the day are all already scheduled, you may not be taking into account breaking news and events that come up that affect your industry or company. When these things happen it is important that you respond as soon as possible, so as not to get lost in the crowd. Simply taking a half hour during the day to go through your news feed as well as search the news for any relevant industry updates, is a great way to share or retweet the timely news your audience wants to know.

There is absolutely a place for scheduling automated posts, such as if you want to share company news or a link to your newest blog post. However, scheduled posts have to be mixed with live posts in order to most effectively communicate with your audience.

Socially Irresponsible

Some small business owners don’t believe in using experts for social media engagement and content development. They see the practice as novel and unproven – until it isn’t.

Such is the case of The Union Street Guest House in Hudson, N.Y. This picturesque small town inn quickly discovered the demonstrative impact of social media when comments about a fines-for-reviews policy hit the inn’s Facebook page and Yelp, the popular online review site.

According to an ABC News story resulting from the social media dust-up, the inn claims its “policy” was posted to its website as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding from years ago and should have been taken down. The policy in essence stated bridal parties would be fined $500, taken from deposit monies, for each negative review the inn might receive connected to a particular wedding or event.

A Google search for the inn's name brings with it a wealth of negative online content that will impact the business' bottom line.

A Google search for the inn’s name brings with it a wealth of negative online content that will impact the business’ bottom line.

Unfortunately, a simple Google search of the inn’s name now produces both a link to the inn’s website, as well as countless social media and news articles referencing this not-so-amusing policy.

The result is a Search Engine Optimization nightmare for the inn coupled with a runaway train of negative comments on its Facebook page (more than 200 at this writing; although it appears the inn may now be deleting posts from its Facebook page).

Since this firestorm hit mainstream media, the inn's Facebook page has been inundated with negative posts.

Since this firestorm hit mainstream media, the inn’s Facebook page has been inundated with negative posts.

The news coverage and social media firestorm – with only a half-hearted response from management that appears to have since been deleted  – have created a massive public relations problem to overcome. This isn’t the type of crisis you wait out. And without a strategy for responding to and recovering from this communications nightmare, The Union Street Guest House is likely to see a steep decline in business, assuming it has the wherewithal to survive at all.

Small businesses are successful because they do what they do well. Where they often fail is when they try to do something outside of their expertise.

By consulting with a social media professional or brand content specialist, small businesses can avoid errors – even tongue-in-cheek responses – that might not seem substantial at the time, but with an extra set of trained eyes, can be seen for the potential disasters they are and thus avoided. Alternatively, bringing in the professionals after a crisis has erupted is not optimal, but it can mean the difference between staying in business or going under.

Most freelancers or public relations agencies can find equitable arrangements with small businesses that won’t break the bank, and can avoid or attempt to correct business-ending mistakes.

For a free consultation on how working with a public relations agency can help protect and promote your business, please contact me at rhughes@kimballpr.com.