There was an old adage that said that one {un}satisfied customer would spread the word to 10 others who in turn would continue the process until their message had reached thousands.  In today’s internet based world this process has gone “viral” and the impact on your hospitality property can be significant.

With the push of a button, consumers are able to access almost unlimited information about your property.  In most cases, this information is a one way conversation that a reader has no way of substantiating with regards to its validity.  Imagine a bad guest review, based more on the mood of a unhappy guest or worse, a vindictive guest.  As potential guests compare hospitality offerings on the internet, imagine the impact of an unfair review on their booking selection.  As a consumer reads complaints about cleanliness, bad service or worse, the likelihood of them choosing your hotel drops dramatically.  Sadly, if the complaints are unfounded or based on a nonrecurring incident, they still have sweeping effect on your property.

So what is a hotel owner to do?  First and foremost, an important component of any property marketing program should include “e-management.”  At a minimum, you should be aware of what consumers are saying about you.  Additionally, you should be making sure that the right messages are being sent into cyberspace.  Further, it is possible to manage the content of sites such as Wikipedia, within their guidelines, and to effect the queuing of information that turns up in a Google search.  In short, one needs to be aware of what is being said; be able to respond accordingly and when possible, have some effect on how and when the information appears in searches.  Today there are a number of marketing professionals that understand the cyberworld and can help you navigate through the process.  Services range from monitoring services to rewriting algorithms to affect the priority of information and its relevant queuing in internet searches.  The internet is here to stay and the savvy hotelier will manage its pitfalls and utilize it to their advantage.

-Paul Reitz

Paul Reitz, CCIM is Senior Vice President of Investment Services at NAI Global and is a hospitality specialist in NAI Global’s Special Asset Solutions and Investment Services groups.