2013-01-17 11:43:51 - Nowadays the online travel review has more or less become required reading for any tourist preparing for a trip. But how do you deal with this omnipresence of the review as a company in the travel industry?
Amsterdam, the Netherlands (January 16, 2013) - “We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world” and as travellers we have all done it: read customer reviews before booking a trip and letting those comments influence our decision making. After all, with the overload of online travel options, we need to base our decision on something, don’t we? Recent research by PhoCusWright has shown that travellers in the US and Europe are indeed “increasingly turning to traveller review websites when choosing a leisure travel destination”. Market leading review site TripAdvisor now features over 50 million online reviews, Google reviews pop up with every search entry as well as numerous comments on Booking.com. No wonder The Guardian wrote about “a
seismic shift in power, from hotelier to consumer” while reflecting on the effects of online reviews last year.
Though this online freedom of speech is a good thing for the tourist-consumer, companies in the travel industry are not so unanimously enthusiastic about it. All is good and well as long as you receive good reviews, but when people leave negative comments about your hotel, or online travel agency, these comments too will be visible for all the world to see. Moreover, opinions shared on social media channels have a way of multiplying and can therefore easily influence the image of your travel company in a negative way. And as we all know, negative images circling in the virtual world are hard to fight. Even so, online customer reviews are here to stay, especially in the travel industry. A report by The Futures Company on the new era in travel reveals that “intelligent recommendation” and social reviewing will become a key factor in the 21st century travel industry. Thus the question should not be how to fight online reviews, but rather how to engage with them in the right way.
TripAdvisor, for instance, offers companies in the travel industry the possibility to respond to every review written on their website. What’s more; over 500 companies in the travel industry now display TripAdvisor reviews on their own website in order to enhance their own content with user-generated content. Here, they can also easily monitor and respond to online reviews by their customers. “Even so, one has to be careful that responses to complaints or negative comments do not create a whole negative discussion fought out on social media platforms”, argues Hans Lasonder, CEO at TeleForwarding, “for such a discussion will soon grow beyond your control.”
One way to (re)gain this control, Lasonder claims, is by using and implementing international toll-free numbers. “With a universal +800 freephone (UIFN) ( www.teleforwarding.co.uk/en/00800
) or international toll-free number ( www.teleforwarding.co.uk/en/0800
) you can comment on negative reviews or complaints by presenting your toll-free numbers in the various countries and asking your customers to call you for free in order to solve the issue.” According to Lasonder this will have a double effect. First of all, you will take a possibly negative discussion out of the social media world and answer the questions or complaints of your customers privately. This will also make it easier to quickly solve the issue. Moreover, you show to all your customers, both existing and potential ones, that your are genuinely interested in their worries or complaints and are set on solving any legitimate issues.
“Of course”, Lasonder claims, “you needn’t be worried that you will receive an incredible amount of calls on this number, for as long as you provide good service, both online and on site, the number of people voicing complaints will be small and their calls limited. Yet at the same time, by using international toll-free or +800 freephone numbers you will reinforce the image of your hotel or online travel agency as an excellent (customer) service provider. This way, you make clear to your customers that they should base their decision to book a stay at your hotel, or a trip with your agency, on this first-rate costumer service not on the occasional bad review.”
With all the technical developments and virtual changes in the 21st century travel industry, toll-free numbers are not to be neglected. Using them as an addition to the virtual contacting options you already offer your customers, such as e-mail and web, international toll-free numbers will allow you to be available 24/7 and offer excellent customer service all over the world. “With international toll-free numbers you are very well equipped to face the current and future challenges the travel industry is facing”, Lasonder argues, “ Show your international customers that there is always a human ear behind the virtual, or augmented, realities that seem to define today’s travel industry, willing to listen to complaints and help with problems. This human, excellent and international customer service will make you stand out from the crowd.”
Do you wish to set yourself apart as an excellent customer service provider and equip your company with the right tools to enter the new travel era with confidence? Contact TeleForwarding by calling us toll-free on 00800 00123456 or take a look at our website www.teleforwarding.co.uk