4 May 2011

The Wisdom of Hotels!

At the recent PhoCusWright@ITB 2011 New Media Summit someone [not sure who - sorry!] said that information gathering on the web has moved from “wisdom of experts” to “wisdom of the crowd” to “wisdom of my friends.” This comment accurately reflects the fairly common acceptance of these three kinds of social wisdom, but is there no other wisdom we seek when making travel choices and are our choices confined to these 'experts', the 'crowd' and our 'friends'?

It seems that we only ever used to be influenced by experts, then user generated content enabled crowds to have a voice, then social networking enabled our friends, family and colleagues to converse, contribute, share and exert their opinions. Wherever we rummage around on the Internet looking for travel ideas we're bombarded with companies/brands/people all wanting to share their wisdom.

Tourism marketing has had to adapt accordingly of course and for hotels in particular the whole question of reputation management has become a serious and urgent concern. As the Internet evolves and more and more influencers become involved, whether experts, crowds or friends, hotels have to work a lot smarter to manage all of this.

But whilst thinking about all of this it occurred to me that whilst it is important to have a strategy that enables you to keep tabs on and understand what everyone else is saying about you we must not forget that consumers (remember them?) are perhaps most interested in what you, the hotelier, has to say. It is your 'wisdom' that they seek.

Not every hotel booking will happen as a consequence of what a destination website said about you, the low price that LateRooms market your rooms at, what TripAdvisor reviews reveal or the number of Facebook 'Likes' you get. Most of your on-line bookings will probably happen because of decisions made by consumers when they have visited your own hotel website.

A hotel's marketing, social media, on-line distribution and reputation management strategies should lead all potential consumers directly to your website. This is where you most want them to book and is ultimately where most consumers probably prefer to book. Consumers have read the reviews, been influenced by their peers and friends and now they want to find out first hand what you have got to say for yourself.

What wisdom does your website reveal to convince consumers to make that booking?