7th March 2012, by Dan Clifford
TripAdvisor has been hitting the headlines recently, with the hotel and tourism industry fighting back against the peril of anonymous reviews.
It’s provided an interesting insight into why PR in this sector has changed so dramatically over the last decade, with many more factors needing consideration than ever before.These changes offer both opportunity and threat to organisations operating in this area, with the 'glass jar' effect meaning that everything is now visible to the consumer.
Previously, a PR agency that could affect and manage good relations with travel writers would be able to deliver guaranteed coverage and predict the shape of annual activity. Although this still remains true, it is now an essential part of the housekeeping of a tourism PR account rather than the core.
As with many sectors, the main driver of this change has been social media. TripAdvisor is one of the most referred to sources of information before the purchasing decision in any industry - 90% of people read reviews before making their final decision. Facebook and Twitter means instant posts and running commentary, meaning PR and customer service have become inextricably entwined.
To quote a cliché, someone with a fly in his or her soup may previously have 1) complained, 2) written a review/letter to a newspaper/ management, and, in extreme cases, 3) been interviewed by a newspaper and published (fly in soup shocker).
Now, the customer can instantly take a picture of the fly, Tweet the picture noting the establishment itself, and even flagging this to journalists, authorities, etc. This means that swift and appropriate handling of the situation is more crucial than ever before – and the same PR principles apply in terms of the credit to be gained by proper handling of a difficult situation.
But it’s not all doom and gloom on the social front by any means. The rise of citizen journalism presents a huge opportunity for organisations that embrace and encourage feedback to create interaction that will help share their unique selling points and humanise them in a way that brochure copy would never be able to.
This article originally appeared as part of a series for The Birmingham Post.
This month, we’ve been appointed as integrated marketing partner for Evander, a leading national locksmith and glazing specialist.
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