5 Sept 2011

Add reputation management to your to-do list

There appears to be a cottage industry spawning that surrounds posting fake reviews — good or bad — on websites where consumers go for help making decisions about what to buy, where to go and, most importantly for you, where to stay. 

Ads are popping up on online forums offering people a chance to make some quick cash by populating websites with reviews — even though they never had the experience, bought the product, etc.

In fact, over the past few weeks I have seen a spate of publicity on high-profile news services calling attention to the fact that more fake hotel reviews are showing up on the likes of TripAdvisor, Priceline, Travelocity and Expedia, among others. If this trend continues, consumers are bound to catch on and are likely to start treating these and any online reviews as potentially untrustworthy.

Whether or not that is a good thing for hoteliers, I am not sure. I just hope you are not a part of the growing problem here — although I have heard about hoteliers using services to post positive comments. If you are part of the problem, shame on you!

Fake reviews have become such a hot topic that Cornell University has gone as far as to create a software program that supposedly spots phonies. At the same time, TripAdvisor claims to have a vigilant system to monitor its reviews and remove suspected frauds. It also likes to point out that with some 25 million reviews on its website, the numbers are in its favor when it comes to reliability. Who can argue with that logic?

But what can you, the hotel operator, do to make sure what is being said about you online is fair and accurate? I know you couldn’t possibly monitor every review posted about your properties and worry your reputation will be unfairly besmirched. However, the reality is that consumer-generated content is here to stay, and it is now time to figure out the best way to make sure what is said about you and your hotels online is fair and accurate. Add it to your to-do list.

Article Source: Hotelsmag.com written by Jeff Weinstein