How can travel companies benefit more from user generated content?

Henry Harteveldt [Posted by Henry Harteveldt]

Hello again.

I'm wrapping up my report on why travelers post their ratings and reviews. This was the winning topic that we asked our eBusiness blog readers to vote on. Thanks again to those of you who voted.

The good news is that travelers are more likely to post content like ratings, reviews, and pictures on travel Web sites to share good news with their fellow travelers, rather than bad news. I hope that's because more travelers interact with travel firms that exceed their expectations, rather than travelers having low expectations and simply pleased that nothing went wrong. The reality is likely a mix of both.

If you're a travel eBusiness or marketing professional, I'd sincerely value your opinions about user generated content (UGC) -- primarily ratings and reviews -- for one simple reason. I want to be sure that we write the most useful possible report. Among the questions we'd appreciate your input on are:

  • What does your organization do to mine the massive amount of user generated content (UGC) about your brand, destination, or sector of the industry? Do you feel the investment of time and money is worth it? Why?
  • If you don't allow UGC on your Web sites, why is that? Budget, technology -- the fear of someone saying something negative?
  • Are you using UGC as part of your customer service or product/training improvement programs? How? What benefits have you seen?
  • Is ROI a factor in your decision making? Why or why not?
  • What potential benefits from UGC do see as being more, or less, useful to your organization and its objectives, and why?

I'd enjoy learning your thoughts. They'll help make the recommendations we offer that much more relevant to you.

As always, thanks for your time.

Henry

Comments

re: How can travel companies benefit more from user generated c

Henry, one thing I've noticed is that I'm most likely to offer feedback when there's some follow-up from the hotel/etc. asking for it, with a nice little link provided to Zagat or whatever. Another version of this idea was that while staying in a hotel in Canada that provided free WiFi, the signin page offered a convenient link for providing feedback on one of the social travel sites. And I did!In both cases it was positive. The only time I recall giving negative feedback to a social travel site, I independently logged into the site - there was no link or other prompt from the service provider.

re: How can travel companies benefit more from user generated c

Mike, thank you for taking the time to write.You're spot on when you say that travel companies should ask travelers for their input. Our research shows that ~10% of US online leisure travelers write ratings/reviews because their opinions were solicited. Offering the added incentive of access to content like Zagat.com, or incorporating a link to post reviews/ratings into a property's "in-room" landing page, are both excellent ideas.Thank you again!