Use online business reviews to advantage
In a couple of weeks I am keynoting at the Motel Association of New Zealand’s conference – and I have just 45 minutes to give some vital tips about using technology better.
I believe it is exceedingly important for this industry to have a broad online presence.
Let me recount one of my travel experiences to demonstrate why. The story also has a message for every business.
I went online to hunt for information on what to see and do in the ports of call for a western Caribbean cruise.
I had booked directly with Royal Caribbean for their Independence of the Seas, and I wasn’t given any information about their shore excursions when booking or checking in online.
It turned out one of the main attractions in Belize is cave tubing. The search results came up with a vast number of comments posted by individuals on different user generated content sites (such as Travelocity, Cruisecritic, Cruiseclues, Cruisereviews).
People from all throughout the world detailed not only their tubing experiences, but also commented on the different tubing operators. There were lots of uploaded photos, videos and, of course, websites of cave tubing tour operators.
It is important to note there was nothing in the search results that I found originating from any of the actual cruise operators like Royal Caribbean, Carnival or Costa.
Assured by the good word of mouth, a convincing website and past experience knowing that ship tours would be much more expensive, I booked with Jimmy of www.cave-tubing.com. Actually reserved, as payment wasn’t required for the booking to be made.
It wasn’t until we got off the veritable floating 4268-passenger New York City of a boat and on Jimmy’s bus with 24 other strangers and were driving through the streets of Belize that comprehension set in.
It was the significance that an individual, without the normal resources we take for granted and whose clientele is singularly international, could create a thriving business using only the internet.
That he could compete so magnificently against the goliaths of business – the cruise industry. That he could battle against their on-board non-stop marketing machinery of sell-sell-sell.
All this man did was put up a website and provide a good service and experience to back it up.
But the piece de la resistance was that as Jimmy was saying his final goodbye to our group, his last words were: “If you enjoyed your experience, please write about us on your favourite cruising website.”
For the travel and accommodation industry, you can see that the internet is their new water fountain. It is where their customers congregate.
However, It is not just the travel industry where people post their experiences.
You will find comments and reviews on everything from tradespeople to restaurants to accommodation to medical to professionals to retailers.
It is just so easy with the plethora of sites, as well as Google search asking if you want to post a review. With smartphones in hand it is just so easy.
Even more damaging is that Google amalgamates reviews from different websites such as finda.co.nz and will display them in your companies’ Google Place / Map.
What have you put in place to watch your online business reviews? By this I mean to use those great reviews and respond quickly to the negative ones.
# Debbie Mayo-Smith is an international speaker, trainer and bestselling author who works with businesses that want more effective management and staff. www.debbiespeaks.co.nz
# Her new book, Conquer Your Email Overload, can be bought at any bookstore or from Debbie at the address below.