Reputation Management Software Tools: Are They Enough?

Due to the rapid acceleration of social media and the growing desire of travelers to read reviews before booking their accommodations, more and more hotels are subscribing to reputation management software tools to assist in monitoring their social media reputations and guest responses. What they are finding, however, is that having the tools is not enough. To be successful, Lodging Interactive, an award winning interactive agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, says that by "combining people with technology," hotels are managing their online reputations far better.

CoMMingle by Lodging Interactive is an outsourced social media marketing agency that develops customized solutions for hotels, restaurants and spas. The company works with hotels to grow and better manage their use of social media channels, provide reputation and consumer sentiment monitoring, and social search engine optimization. CoMMingle has teamed up with leading hospitality reputation-management companies, such as Revinate, to supplement their technology applications whereby CoMMingle provides the human resources necessary to respond to guest reviews and manage the entire guest response process on behalf of its hotel clients.

"Implementing reputation management software is good, but combining that technology with people will equal far greater results," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive Founder and President. "Here's how: Before, hoteliers had direct control over their branding and could direct people easily to their hotel. Then social media came along. Savvy travelers use Facebook, Twitter and travel review sites such as TripAdvisor, to find unbiased reviews. It only takes one unhappy guest to post a bad review, then the company's reputation is damaged, which in turn effects their sales."

To regain control over their reputations, Vallauri said “companies have developed software tools that scour the social media universe for reviews or mentions about the brand. It's like having an in-house intelligence agency providing actionable information and allowing management to see what guests like or don't like. The technology tools come equipped with sentiment analysis and workflow tools to enable each hotel or brand to engage with prospects and drive loyalty. Easy-to-use reports analyze the data, track the program's success and see how the hotel or brand is stacking up against the competition.”

"Now here's the dilemma," Vallauri added. "If the hotel doesn't have the resources available to do the aforementioned tasks (ie. analyzing the data, tracking program success and monitoring the market), the technology investment was for naught. CoMMingle is designed to complement a hotel's existing reputation-management technology tools with 'our people.' It doesn't matter what type of guest-review technology platform a hotel is using; CoMMingle can work within the tools to maximize the messaging and deliver more consistent responses."

Best Practices for Reputation Management
In a recent article titled: "Social media matures, forcing hotels to focus on reputation," Dennis Morris, director of revenue development for Meyer Jabara Hotels, said: “Reputation is so important from a customer standpoint because they read postings and believe they are real. If you are not focused on your online reputation, then what are you doing about your online reputation? There needs to be best practices in place to see that you are managing your reputation."

Lodging Interactive's Vallauri said he believes following a "Technology + People = Reputation Management" formula is a best practice that should be implemented industry wide.

"Purchasing reputation management software is only the first step in managing and monitoring a hotel's or brand's online reputation," Vallauri said. "Technology is critical to capturing information. But unless a hotel has the human resources in place to interpret that data and respond to reviews to manage their ongoing guest relationships, the technology alone isn’t the total solution. At Lodging Interactive, we understand that having the manpower to tackle these tasks is a challenge. CoMMingle brings the much needed talent to the table."

In a recent article titled: "Reputation management an evolving consideration," Associate Editor Andrew Sheivachman, wrote: "More than just proactively responding to reviews and opinions, looking at aggregated data on guest opinions can help to improve a brand's reputation." CoMMingle provides the intelligence and resources to analyze that aggregated data, and then some. Since 2009, CoMMingle has been providing social media assistance to hundreds of hotels. For more information about CoMMingle, visit http://www.commingle.me/.

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