User-Generated Content, And What Others Say About Your Tourism Brand

passportcreative

Let’s do a little bit of review: why is your tourism brand so important?

Well, it’s the shorthand for your reputation. 

It’s the promise you make to your customers - what they should expect, what they’ll experience, and how they’ll be treated.

And then it’s how your customers describe that same experience after the fact. How they talk about you, how they share, and where they share all end up being a part of tourism user-generated content.

Remember what we went over on Day 1: “Your brand isn’t only yours. A brand is also a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.”

Because a good part of your brand is what others think about it, and because it’s easier than ever to share publicly what we think about companies and services, today we’re focused on:

What are others saying about your tourism brand (and where are they saying it)? 

With 87% of millennials saying they use social media for travel inspiration, it’s increasingly more important to make sure you’re a part of that conversation. 

Part of any good conversation is listening. Or in this case, social listening, which is the process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, product, and more.

It’s done in two parts:

  1. Listen - Look for mentions, comments, and reviews of your brand, your competitors, keywords related to you, and your destination 
  2. Act - From small (responding to comments and reviews) to big (launching a new company to take advantage of an opportunity), listening gives you the substance to act in a way that benefits your brand.

What should you listen for, exactly?

  • Pain points - What’s not going well with your destination, your competitors, or… you? Finding ways to proactively address these issues not only ensures your longevity, but will keep your destination attractive, too
  • Potential customers - Remember that ‘Dreaming’ stage from yesterday? Seeing what people are talking about or looking for related to your destination gives you the opportunity to step in and introduce yourself and your solution
  • Influencers - Getting a sense for who is important locally and internationally will give you the chance to connect and collaborate.

Over time, you may want to create a list of easily searchable terms to make the social listening process more automatic. This could include:

  • Your tourism brand name and handles
  • Your product name(s), including common misspellings
  • Your destination, and official destination management organization handles
  • Your competitors’ names and handles
  • Local and national tourism campaigns
  • Your hashtags and those of your competitors
  • Hashtags related to travel and tourism in your area

Now, what happens when, after all that listening, you don’t like what you hear?

When should you respond to what they’ve said? Especially when it’s negative?

What did we always learn as youngsters… if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s better not to say anything at all, right?

Unfortunately, not all tourists learn that lesson. Whether they had a bad day, whether you made a mistake, or whether they’re just plain impossible to please, the moment will come when you get…

A bad review.

But it’s not the end of the world. 

(Even though it might feel like it.)

In fact, when you respond appropriately, you can come out looking better. Your customers understand that you’re not perfect. They understand not everyone’s going to be pleased. And more than all, they want authenticity. That’s why people trust 4.9 star reviews more than 5 star reviews.

First and foremost, your instinct should be to respond.

Just not right away.

With sites like Tripadvisor, deleting responses to comments can be tricky. On others like Facebook or Instagram, it may seem easier (look! An edit button!) but it’s also possible for customers to take a picture of what you’ve said and display it after the fact.

So, hold on. You might be mad. You might be worried other people will read it. But take 5 or 10 minutes away from the screen. Write down your comments on paper or talk them over with a coworker. Then once you’ve gathered yourself, feel free to respond accordingly.

Here are a few scenarios with negative reviews, and how you can consider responding.

  1. When It’s Your Fault - Don’t make excuses. Point out how rare this is (and hopefully it is rare!), how important their experience is to you, and that you’d like the chance to make it up to them.
  2. When There’s A Misunderstanding - You can apologize for any inconvenience, then reach out to ask for a private contact to see if there’s a way to resolve it.
    • As a bonus, if you’re able to fix it, you can ask for a follow-up review.
  3. When It’s Their Fault - Some people will complain just to complain. Others might angle for a free meal or a refund of some sort. Your potential customers will see through this. Still, be professional. Take their feedback into consideration. Offer again to have a private conversation to see how it can be resolved. At the very least, this will show any onlookers that you know how to conduct yourself reasonably, even in the face of a silly customer.

Next steps: after you’ve dealt with the comment, figure out how to keep it from happening again. 

If it’s your fault, what can you change? 

If there’s a misunderstanding, how can you be more clear in your offer?

If it’s their fault, maybe there’s an opportunity to speak with your team about how they sell the offer. 

Because while the occasional negative review won’t sink you - and may in fact make you seem more authentic - regular ones, and repeated ones, could do irreversible damage to your brand.

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Today’s exercise:

Be a good (social) listener. To get you active and engaged, use our list from before and adapt it to your tourism project and your destination. 

  1. Your tourism brand name and handles
  2. Your product name(s), including common misspellings
  3. Your destination, and official destination management organization handles
  4. Your competitors’ names and handles
  5. Local and national tourism campaigns
  6. Your hashtags and those of your competitors
  7. Hashtags related to travel and tourism

Then put them in a document. Set a reminder to do a search on a regular basis (once a week, once a month, etc.) to get into the habit of tracking these conversations.

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We're close to the end of this series. To finish off, we'll talk about next steps once you've established your tourism brand!

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