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User Generated Content – Part 1

A stickier kind of  ‘word of mouth’

Consumers have always liked talking about the brands they love, those they hate, their good experiences and even more so, the bad ones. Every business strives towards developing strong consumer relations that will result in the happy customer telling as many people as they know about your fantastic value offering. Even though traditional word of mouth remains strong, the Internet, which is dynamic and changing more rapidly than most can keep up, has spurned a new and more powerful tool that allows consumers to actively participate, comment, interact and create around their brand and service experiences. It’s called user generated content and if there’s one thing people like talking about, it’s travel.

The need to speak out by the traveller when met with an equal desire to know from prospective travellers, results in the emergence of travel review sites such as TripAdvisor or IgoUgo – powerhouse websites that boast over 10 million reviews. No hotel around the world can hide from consumers who have something to say. Every dirty sink, rat under the bed and unfriendly receptionist will be spoken about, at length.

If you thought word of mouth is powerful, then consider the magnified effect of a website which is trusted and used by millions of people. Today, travellers are speaking predominantly about their hotel experiences but this is slowly spreading to every aspect of the trip. A very important consideration is that other travellers seek out these opinions from their compatriots – user generated content is not an online trend which is going to go away. A spoilt trip is not something that a vacationer is going to take lightly and there are plenty of travel disasters that disgruntled travellers have a lot to say about:

When it was bad for the traveller, for the brand it will be even worse. These are the kinds of things travellers on TripAdvisor had to say:

 ‘…While we were just sitting there, three crickets hopped across the floor. We are on the 4th floor! How and why are there crickets in the HONEYMOON SUITE! This was an absolutely, horrible experience. I suggest you avoid this hotel like the plague!’

‘…Staff was unhelpful and rude. I will never stay here again. I am a single female traveler and wanted some assistance getting to my business meetings. They did not give me any assistance or directions. I was frustrated and checked out. Don't bother coming here.’

But when it’s good, it can give your brand and your occupancy rates a significant boost:

‘…From the moment we stepped out of the car, the service was faultless. The room was equal to the best we have respectively stayed in and can't wait to return to that one or one of its sister hotels around the world….’

 ‘…Couldn’t fault the hotel at all and all in all had one of the most memorable weekends of my life.’