Without a doubt, one of today's biggest lightening rod topics for innkeepers is Trip Advisor and the broader topic of social media. "I don't like this new way of reviews! How can this be good for me? People are 'gaming' the system. I can't control what goes on! Who cares what other people say?" Sound Familiar?
These comments are usually made by the innkeepers that initially resisted the internet…then resisted online availability…then resisted online bookings. But times change and so does the technology that we all must embrace to be competitive and visible to today's Contemporary Traveler, the i.guest.
The information about today's traveler, as generated by various research organizations as well as anecdotally by The B&B Team, shows without a doubt, that our guests today are technologically demanding high quality websites, great photography, and the option to book their lodging stays online!
We can't forget that we are still in the hospitality and people business, but to be successful, we all need to embrace the tools that technology offers our guests…and us too.
It's interesting that within the last 48 hours, two articles about Trip Advisor and social media have surfaced from two very different points of view and sources. What is even more interesting is that they both clearly recognize the importance of this new transparency in online information.
Our own innkeeping organization, PAII, released a Position Statement, "The largest international association of innkeepers is promoting standards to ensure fair and ethical use of online guest review systems — one of the fastest growing segments of so-called "social media" on the Internet."
Almost simultaneous to this release was an online article from BudgetTravel on msnbc.com about the Top 10 Travel Innovations from the past 10 years…and Trip Advisor was rated as the 3rd most important innovation! Why, because, it "takes the guesswork out of deciding where to stay" and "empowers travelers to make smart choices".
What's it all mean to us? Technology continues to advance and we all need to embrace it, but in so doing , do it with a sense of fair play. In the end, we all benefit! Your thoughts?