How To Manage Your Online Reputation – Part 1

 

Iain shares some thoughts on the best ways to engage with your customers online and how to turn good service into sales.

Everyone seems to be talking about ORM. You could even say that right now ORM is one of the most popular TLAs (three letter acronyms) in the business world! The official, rather stuffy, definition of ORM is, “the practice of monitoring the Internet reputation of a person, brand or business, with the goal of suppressing negative mentions entirely or pushing them lower on search engine results pages to decrease their visibility.”

That makes it all sound a bit sinister and corporate. I think the true definition of ORM is more positive and is best expressed by former Vancouver hotel manager and ORM consultant Daniel Edward Craig: “…Online reputation management is the process of tracking and responding to online reviews and commentary and using feedback to guide improvements. It’s about actively participating in social networking to build awareness and shape impressions.”

Spot on. Online reputation management isn’t about anything so crude and cynical as gaming the system. It’s about developing an on-going relationship with your customers, responding to their opinions and showing that their feedback, whether positive or negative, matters to you. So what follows are some personal thoughts about ORM that have emerged out of my own wide experience of managing an online travel company and communicating with customers on a daily basis:

1.                  Managing your online reputation

Why bother?

  • People now research trips, make decisions and share experiences online via social media.
  • 75% of customers now cite reviews as being influential.
  • More and more people are using social media platforms, like Twtter and Facebook, so review information moves at ever greater speed.

Evidence suggests social media is currently used primarily as a service channel rather than a direct sales channel, so if your customers are using it they will expect you to be on it and may want to connect with you via social media.

Sales and service are linked and there is absolutely no doubt of the link between service and loyalty, so service and reputation are a great place to start. The transactional “sales” side of social media may not be that strong, but I don’t believe it will be long before large businesses make it happen….just like they did with the Internet! Indeed large companies are building these social media platforms into their service models.

When you come right down to it, using social media is really just about working with your customers in a way that they find most convenient…and isn’t that what good service is all about anyway?

We built the customer review process into “freetobook” right at the start so every customer using our online booking engine receives a review email a day after their stay….and 29% of our customers complete reviews for the properties (voluntarily).

2.                  Where does your independent property start?

  • Audit first, find out what’s out there and what people are saying…or not saying.
  • Understand what you want customers to say and where you want them to say it.
  • Monitor, react and encourage feedback: these are all “first principles” of service… wherever you are.

(These are just some of the tips I have picked up from various places, but if anyone has any comments or examples of situations I would be glad to hear of them: iain@freetobook.com).

Share the love

freetobook heartIf you love something, wouldn’t you want to tell everyone about it? Thanks to all the great feedback we receive, we already know that our thousands of Freetobook customers all over the world are amazed by the great stuff our technology empowers them to do. Now you can easily share your enthusiasm for Freetobook.

When you log into your Freetobook profile you’ll see this new button at the top of every page:

share_the_love

 

 

Clicking on it will allow you to:

  • send a message via Twitter
  • post on Facebook
  • send an email

You can either send a pre-written declaration of love for Freetobook (e.g. “We love using freetobook it’s simple free and easy, get yours at www.freetobook.com”) or delete our version and write your own.

New Facebook booking app

facebook_-squarelogo
facebook app

With 845 million active users, Facebook is becoming an ever-more useful way of reaching new customers and generating more revenue. If you already have a Facebook business page, Freetobook can now create a Facebook booking page for you as well. This will allow you to:

  • Display great photos of your property.
  • List all your property information and room descriptions.
  • Display your location on a Google map.

And most importantly of all…

  • Link to your booking engine, providing easy online booking direct from Facebook.

You’ll find this great new functionality by logging into your profile and clicking on a new tab called “Social.”

Learn more by watching this short video:

Are you on the same page as your customers?

With nearly a billion users on facebook there’s a good chance a few of your current or potential customers are on it and they’ll be looking for your property.

facebook booking button app
facebook app

Facebook business pages have been around for some time now so if want to be on the same page as your customers then look into getting a facebook page (link below).

If you already have a page then you will be pleased to know freetobook will soon be launching a facebook app to help you:

 

Continue reading “Are you on the same page as your customers?”

Pinterest booking link

Generate bookings from your Pinterest pins with freetobook booking button link.

Add your online booking link to Pinterest with freetobook. Pinterest is all about images, so have a great image ready to upload, something with the “wow factor”.

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Pinterest gets freetobook booking link

Log into freetobook and upload the image to your image Gallery (it’s in your Profile tab under Images), select the category “Pinterest” from the drop down menu. You can have as many images as you like in each category.

Continue reading “Pinterest booking link”

Managing your online reputation

Internet Symbol by MickyManaging your online reputation

Why bother?

  • People now research trips, make decisions and share experiences online via social media.
  • 75% of customers now cite reviews as being influential.
  • More and more people are using social media platforms, like Twtter and Facebook, so review information moves at ever greater speed

Continue reading “Managing your online reputation”

Announcing “theBandBer”

theBandBer_logo_2February 2012 sees the launch of a project that we at Freetobook find extremely exciting. It’s called theBandBer (www.thebandber.com) and it’s a brand new online magazine dedicated to championing and celebrating everything that makes bed and breakfasts, guesthouses and small independent hotels so special.

Aimed first and foremost at accommodation owners, theBandBer is edited by David Cunningham, a senior web content developer and editor.  It covers topics as diverse as managing online reviews and profiles, attracting more business travellers, top tips on the effective use of social media, staycation trends, technology and credit card charges. It also carries interviews with noted gurus in the independent accommodation world (who are themselves property owners.)

The aim of theBandBer is to create a community of self-styled ‘BandBers’.

“There is a real spirit of comradeship within the independent accommodation market and property owners are eager to connect and share their stories,” says editor David Cunningham. “We are planning on using the full array of social media tools to help support and promote our members.”

Displaying your booking button on facebook

With facebook on track to reach one billion active users worldwide by the end of 2011, it has become not only a great way to promote your property but also a really valuable booking channel. New technology from freetobook offers a simpler way to place a booking button directly on your facebook page.

We’ve created this online video tutorial to show you how it works:

Independent accommodation providers have shown great skill in using facebook as a billboard, creating distinctive pages, posting lots of great pictures (including guest photo albums) and putting on imaginative special offers.

All these “soft sell” strategies are terrific. But facebook can help you in a much more direct way. It doesn’t need to be solely a customer relations tool. It can also be a new revenue stream.

Our new booking button can be installed in a few simple steps and will link directly to your freetobook availability page, where guests can see live rates and book.

Facebook holiday envy

We’ve all heard about “green” holidays, but how about “green with envy” holidays? Research just published by Teletext Holidays suggests that over 50% of Brits now post holiday photos on their Facebook profile pages and that an increasing number of their Facebook “friends” book copycat trips after viewing those photos.

Green face of facebook holiday envy
Green face of facebook holiday envy

Teletext surveyed 3000 UK travellers and found almost a fifth admitting that they had booked a completely identical holiday to a friend – right down to the same hotel or villa – having heard about their experiences. After seeing the Facebook photos on a friend’s profile, 13 per cent of people have gone on to take a similar holiday, while another six per cent have arranged a break after just seeing someone’s status. Not only that, but nearly 30% said that looking at friends’ Facebook profiles left them feeling envious enough to book a holiday for themselves soon after, regardless of whether it was a ‘copycat’ trip or not.

It looks as though Facebook and other social media sites, with the powerful word of mouth that they can generate, are becoming significant drivers of business for the travel industry. In particular, the ability to make frequent updates – whether it’s changing your status as soon as you hit the beach or posting a photo of yourself next to a famous landmark as soon as you arrive at it – keeps reminding other people where you are and what you’re doing far more vividly that just showing them your holiday snaps when you return. Thus the idea of a similar holiday remains more at the front of their minds – and harder to resist.

Oh… in case you were wondering which destination leaves us feeling most jealous, it’s Australia, closely followed by Barbados and the Bahamas. It seems that nothing provokes more envy amongst Brits than sunshine. Funny that.

Twitter Hacks

There has been a recent rash of hacked twitter accounts. You usually find out about it when your followers tell you that “you” have sent them a DM (Direct Message) like the ones below (real examples) The good news is it’s quite easy to fix and fairly easy to prevent in the first place:

• New Miracle Diet is Finally Expsed (dodgy link) it really works
• I lost a bunch of weight, this stuff works! look at news article (dodgy link)
• Get the beach body you’ve always wanted, now you can with this weight loss supplement (dodgy link)
• Have you heard millions of people are making $5k+/Mo from home? heres how.. (dodgy link)
• Someone said this real bad thing about you in a blog…. (dodgy link)
• Lose weight guaranteed with Ultra HCG (dodgy link) i lost 26 lbs!

What has happened?

Your account has been compromised. Someone dodgy has access to your twitter account and is sending DMs to your followers using your account.

What to do?

If you have fallen victim to a hacker, go straight to the twitter help centre (http://support.twitter.com/), click on the “Report a Violation” section and follow their instructions. You will soon be free of the pest.

How to stop it happening in the first place.

1. Whatever you do, don’t click a (dodgy link). It takes a little experience to know what a dodgy link looks like: they look spammy and impersonal. Twitter is about connecting with people you are interested in and on the whole they don’t send spammy links.

The examples above give you a good idea of what they look like. I would not expect any of my followers to send me that kind of message with a link. If you get a DM that looks spammy, don’t click the link.

2. Don’t follow back spammy followers. If you do follow back spammy followers, they can send you a spammy DM which gets the whole thing started. Here’s a picture of some spammy followers. They don’t look like real accounts:

If you get spammy followers, do the world a favour and report them for spam:

Happy tweeting. It’s a sad reality that these spammers exist. I’m guessing they put a lot of people off, especially new starters who might not be aware of what they look like.