Online Reputation Management for Travel Professionals
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”
~ Thomas Paine
You know what your company stands for, what ethic you live by and the manner in which you deal with your clients. You have spent time building a business persona, crafting the image you want your company to project. You have invested vast, precious resources developing your logo, your sales collateral and training your business associates on client relationships. You are all dressed up with somewhere to go.
Then, someone posts a negative review of your business online. Suddenly, online searches of your company name generate the negative review as a top result. What are your options and how can you counter the adverse publicity?
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the terminology now given to those PR efforts that are geared to managing and monitoring a company’s brand image in the online market place. ORM is essentially a strategy designed to monitor the health of your online brand, to promote a positive brand image and to remedy and ameliorate the impact of any negative reviews. This week, we will look at some of the tactics used to effect an ORM strategy.
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One of the most difficult aspects of ORM is the anonymity of the online world. An individual can post a negative review of your company without revealing their identity. The poster may have a legitimate complaint with your company’s services, or they may well be an individual with a grudge, or a competitor willing to go to great lengths to damage your reputation. Moreover, providing a negative review with undue or misguided attention can raise its profile in the search engines and give it a greater prominence than it might have otherwise enjoyed.
A sound ORM strategy will consist of prevention, monitoring, response and repair. This week, we will look at the tactics a travel agency can use to effect an ORM strategy and the considerations to undertake as you implement your plan.
Prevention strategies consist of a pro-active policy of internally controlling the information that you place on line as well as providing clients with easily accessible and satisfying ways of voicing their opinions about your travel company’s services. Today, we will review internal controls for outbound communications.
Many business owners forget that an online presence extends beyond their company web site. Your Facebook profile and Twitter postings all represent your company, as do the status updates of all of your employees! Poorly worded commentary by an employee or a misspoken status update or tweet can result in a permanent search result in Google. Even the deletion of such comments from their original source does not guarantee their removal from search results as Google caches retain even deleted content.
Having a coherent and easily understandable social media policy in your travel company is a good first step in ORM. Work with your employees to ensure they understand the importance of a professional online presence. After all, it is not only your company’s image that is at stake, it is their own as well! Future employers will certainly search their profiles for insight into their professional character. The site Reputation.com has provided an excellent resource for the development of an internal social media policy.
Readers of TRO’s 365 Guide know that I place the mission statement at the very heart of a company’s brand. Consistency is critical in projecting the appropriate and sought-after image. Before hitting the Publish or Send button, ask your employees to be certain that their postings properly represent the company ethic. The more consistently a company represents itself to the public, the better engaged is the company’s efforts at ORM.
Tomorrow: Handling Complaints and Crisis Management