With all the discussion about social media, blogging, travel review sites, etc., there’s always a fair amount of passion. Most innkeepers either love or hate Tripadvisor. There’s very little middle ground. Our feeling at The B&B Team is that innkeepers need to know about, track, and use Travel 2.0 venues as much as they can and as much as they feel it may impact their business positively. However, there’s a big difference between "use" and "abuse."
For instance, is there anything wrong with an innkeeper encouraging happy, smiling departing guests from leaving a review at Tripadvisor (or some other site)? Is it any less ethical not to say a thing about reviews to a departing i.guest who had a less than a perfect stay? Is it important and proper to respond adequately to a negative review? How about posing as a happy i.guest and posting a great review about your own property? After all, it’s just to get the ball rolling, right? Or what about pretending to be an irate former guest and posting a bogus review blasting your competitor?
In the early days of the public Internet, some enterprising individuals bought hundreds of URL’s, including the names of industries and companies, in the belief (well founded in many cases) that someone would pay them a lot of money to buy them. It worked, for a while. There was nothing inherently wrong with being ahead of the competition and buying URLs like "bedandbreakfast.com" that were industry specific. But there was a problem with people buying the names of companies and extorting those companies, in essence, to get their own name back. In the end, because of the ethics and the law that prevailed, some entrepreneurs were denied their hoped-for windfall. A line had been crossed.
In social media, and innkeeping, everyone needs to keep a perspective and remember that there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. This is new territory, so keep a level head and keep the standards high. When a review is not a review, maybe the angel on your shoulder should be louder than the other voice!