New resource is helping with online reputation management

The Tourism Business Essentials Guides are a series of free manuals designed to help folks in the business of tourism learn more about the industry, and draw upon the knowledge and experience of provincial tourism leaders to help them build their business.

The Tourism Business Essentials Guides are a series of free manuals designed to help folks in the business of tourism learn more about the industry, and draw upon the knowledge and experience of provincial tourism leaders to help them build their business.

They are a vital resource.

I’m particularly interested in one of the newest, released in May, called “Online Reputation Management.” This subject is very relevant to many of the discussions we’ve been having lately at TPR. Many of our members and stakeholders are realizing that their customers are no longer where they used to be – that is, in traditional broadcast and print – and that they need to take their message online if they want to stay relevant.

The eBusiness revolution does not mean that running a good business that focuses on customer satisfaction cannot be successful. In fact, in today’s marketing environment that’s more important than ever. But to promote, and to take the increasingly vital step of engaging the customer, an understanding of your online reputation is vital. Because that’s the most important thing to remember about this (and the subject of this guide). You already have an online reputation, whether you know it or not. It will grow, good or bad, with or without your participation. It’s where your customers are, and it’s where you need to be.

The stats are piling up on just how widespread web use has become. There’s a January 2011 survey by TSN Canadian Facts quoted in “Online Reputation Management.” This showed that 73 per cent of leisure travelers and 86 per cent of business travelers used the Internet as an information source before booking travel. Almost 60 per cent of business travelers and 54 per cent of leisure travelers indicated that star and diamond ratings on Internet booking services had the most influence on their travel choices.

As one might expect, social media is experiencing a sharp increase. Here 17 per cent of business travelers (almost double 2010 results) and 14 per cent of leisure travelers were influenced by social media. Blogs influenced 25 per cent of business travelers and 21 per cent of leisure travelers, and videos 43 per cent of business and 47 per cent of leisure.

Most interesting, according to a 2009 Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, “The results indicate that while consumers don’t trust the opinions of strangers as much as the opinions of people they know, they trust them significantly more than traditional advertising sources and slightly more than the opinions of professional journalists.”

One of the most common things that we heard when we discuss online marketing with stakeholders is that they simply don’t know how to get started. The “Online Reputation Management” guide is a great place. You know that great statistics about online visitors are available, but you’re not sure how to access and truly understand it? Try the section on analytics tools. You understand that you need to resolve issues as they appear online, but you’re not sure exactly how to respond to a negative (or worse, inaccurate) review on TripAdvisor? Examples are provided.

The entire series of Tourism Business Essentials Guides can be considered required reading for tourism entrepreneurs. They cover a wide gamut of topics, from human resources to building effective advertising, from understanding the value of travel media to outlining the province’s unique tourism sectors such as mountain bike tourism.

They’re free online. Just visit http://www.jti.gov.bc.ca/industryresources/, and follow the link to the Tourism Business Essentials Guides.