Written by: Galina Kulakova
When was the last time you booked or bought something online and not checked any comments from fellow buyers? We live in the world, where everyone is a critic, where people share their opinions of every product or service, influencing decisions of other consumers much more than official information from sellers.
Word of mouth (WOM) was the most important information source for the purchase decision-making process of a consumer, and now it transformed into Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM), following the tendencies of the social era.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” — Benjamin Franklin
The ease with what consumers now share information represents both a great opportunity and a threat. The right (positive or negative) message can go viral, and many marketers and PR specialists desire the positive message to go viral in order to build a stronger reputation, increase brand awareness and recognition.
On the other hand, we all understand the nightmare of potential damage of a negative message – we’ve heard the stories and saw how companies suffered the damage of their image and reputation.
According to a recent study by Salesforce about User-Generated content (UGC),
For tourism sector, especially for hotels, managing online reputation and User-Generated content is of utmost importance due to the specifics of the industry. Service, being one of the most important parts of touristic product, is intangible and dependent on human factor. Therefore, people do not trust general advertisement statements of ‘providing best and customized services’, but rather seek the feedback of people who have already tested the service themselves.
Now that we established the importance of eWOM and UGC, let’s answer WHY it is so powerful.
It is no secret that generally people like sharing their life on social media. It brings the feelings of appreciation by the society. People enjoy contributing as in return they satisfy our need to connect and to belong, as well establish the status of a knowledgeable person.
Again, it is no wonder that for any question we go the internet. Online reviews and comments are the first source of information that consumers rely on when making a purchase.
We trust other people more than advertisement, mass media or information on corporate websites. This is called ‘social proof’, and only the opinions of people on consumer side can get it.
Next question is WHERE people share and seek advices?
In case of hotels, the most popular user-generated content websites are
Tim Peter, an expert in hotel marketing, created a simple formula to calculate the number of potential storytellers that your hotel has each year. Let’s imagine you have a 100 room hotel that has 60% occupancy rate with 1,4 guests per room. If so, you have nearly 31,000 storytellers that stay at your hotel each year. Use them to your advantage to spread the word about your hotel and to increase loyalty.
Here are some ideas of how to enhance UGC on different platforms:
There are many other ways to leverage User-Generated content, and it is up to you to fine the strategy that suits you best. Use the voices of your guests to raise awarness of your brand and boost loyalty. Do not underestimate the power of eWOW and UGC and start managing your online reputation now!