It was suggested by an article in December's CRM magazine that by 2014 some 10% to 15% of positive on-line reviews will be fake and paid for by companies hoping to influence the marketplace. This includes social media sites, as well, like Yelp and YouTube. That's right, people will be paid to write good news about an establishment; they will not have been a guest at all. Let's not forget that wily competitors may be doing just the opposite!
We already know that platforms, like Expedia and Travelocity, try their best to challenge and cull these faux reviews, and hotel corporations who now carry guest reviews themselves on their web sites will need to play policeman and detective. This is a worthy battle, for good reviews typically drive a reasonable decision to book a room night or more.
The article, "The High Cost of Paying for Reviews", stated that the challenge will be to separate sponsored reviews from the unbiased versions. So, now we have new specialists and mathematic wizardry out there - moderators and algorithms - to assist us with compromised accounts. Even the Federal Trade Commission is in the act to ferret out misleading reviews and the bloggers who submit those most favored reviews.
So, should we all pad a review or two? Will we get caught? Maybe not, but what does that say about our own integrity? On-line reviews are here to stay until the next wave and iteration of consumer feedback is discovered. We are bound to receive a negative review at some point, and the best defense is even a better defense - respond to the review and make sure that response is posted.
These on-line reviews are the public face of a company. Fortunately, you can tap into your guest's experience with your own research effort, learn what went well and areas for improvement. Plus, by reaching out you have shown that you value the guest and their insight. This is where you really gather important data and feedback. Yes, you must manage those user generated reviews, but your own research efforts will be far more beneficial and meaningful (plus, trustworthy).
John Hendrie, the consultant/owner of Hospitality Performance, has taken a hard look at the HR discipline. He knows it; he has worked it. Now, he has formulated his thoughts and recommendations as a collaborative author in a new, must read E-book, called Good Book of Business. He and other experts share their expertise on topics from marketing to finance to operations. A must read for any businessman or woman! Buy it and become enlightened. Click here to see a sample chapter.