• Evelyne

What STORY are you telling about your business?

As I listen to Gavin Esler of the BBC give the keynote address at the Edinburgh HEDNA conference, I am reminded of the article we posted some months ago on catfishing and reputation management.

The topic of Mr. Esler’s speech is “The Three Stories Every Leader Needs”; he tells us that the 3 stories are

  1. Who am I as a person?

  2. Who are we as a group?

  3. Where will my leadership take us?

One of the best practices a person can do is to confront the worst that the audience thinks about you.  He tells us of an interview he once did with Dolly Parton where he asked her if it offends her that people think she’s a dumb blond.  Her response was “No”, because she knows that she’s not really dumb and she knows that she’s not really blonde.  She addressed it head on and immediately dispelled the perception.

With user generated content (UGC) better known as online reviews, everyone in the hospitality industry gets an opportunity to confront those negativities on a regular basis.  It is indeed rare that you find a property with at least 1 negative review.

Recently a PR director for a major global hospitality chain was caught writing over 100 negative reviews about the competition.  (Can you say “OOPS!” ?)  This is as bad as catfishing  – which includes presenting yourself, or your hotel, as better than you really are.  Don’t be fooled into thinking no one will find out… they ALWAYS find out!  And when they do you’ll be adversely affected.

You can’t control everything; people will tell stories about you and about how you don’t live up to your own stories.  Have a counter story and face it, address it, try to fix it – the way you handle it means more than the fact that you had the issue to begin with.  Look at the way BP mishandled the gulf oil spill in 2010 – if they owned up to it from the beginning they would not have had all the bad press.  In the case of UGC, the trick is to manage your reputation by responsibly responding to the reviews online and to the reviewer directly.  It has been shown that the way you handle a bad review is even more important that the review itself.

And don’t kid yourself, reviews are important.  A recent study found that 51% of guests say this is the most important factor in selecting which hotel to book – more than price.  For sites which score guest satisfaction a 1 point increase in review score can mean more than 11% increase in ADR.

By confronting the negative perception, you negate it and destroy it.  This goes for you or your company or hotel. Ignore this at your own peril!

Think about the story you are trying to tell about your business and how you manage the stories others tell about you.  It’s not just the product that your customers will remember, it’s the STORY that they will remember.

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