Whether we like it or not, social media has a huge influence on our day to day decisions.
‘Not me,’ I hear you cry ‘I don’t need anyone else to tell me what to do!’ Well I hate to tell you, but we are all in fact social media sheep following the many online ratings shepherds out there.
The rise of TripAdvisor
The TripAdvisor world is booming – both in terms of revenue and visitors. Booking a holiday? You head straight to TripAdvisor to see where the hotel in question has been ranked.
The company is reportedly worth over $4 billion and attracts around 65 million unique visitors every month. According to MGHworld.net, 53% of customers won’t book a hotel without online reviews.
Of course TripAdvisor doesn’t only deal in hotels; there are reviews for restaurants, attractions and holiday destinations. If you’re looking to go somewhere, the chances are it’s been reviewed.
The site can do wonders for a business if it receives a multitude of positive reviews but just a few negative criticisms can be incredibly damaging. A huge 67% of customers won’t book a hotel after reading up to 3 negative reviews.
There have been occasions when a bad review has gone viral. As well as often providing us some lunchtime humour, it often makes us realise that some of those who write the reviews aren’t actually industry experts, just some of lifes expert complainers!
Food, glorious food
So you want to go out for dinner; somewhere new. You can’t possibly just head to the restaurant and get munching, it’s a much more complex activity now. Once you’ve been onto TripAdvisor to decide where you’ll be eating, sussed out the reviews to check how clean the place is and read through every last paragraph to ensure there have been no incidents of customers vomiting, you might well head to Twitter. Why not do a bit more research on the micro-blogging site and be one of the 50% of users who visits a restaurant based on a recommendation you’ve seen on there?
Eventually you’ve convinced yourself the choice you have made is correct. Everyone else says it’s good so surely it must be? We’re all self-proclaimed foodies after all.
You head down to the restaurant and it’s straight out with your mobile to check-in on Facebook and make sure all your friends know that’s where you are. We just can’t help ourselves.
The food is ok; you probably wouldn’t rate it as highly as the other reviews you’ve seen though; the waiter looked at you a bit funny so that marks them down a bit. This had better go straight on TripAdvisor when you get home so other people know what to expect!
And so the cycle begins again, people read your review to make their decision and subsequently add their own comments online.
But it’s not all bad news for businesses. Get the method spot on and good reviews can launch a hotel or restaurant to the coveted top spot of TripAdvisor.
Even getting it wrong doesn’t have to be the end of the earth. An apologetic response or explanation can go a long way to pulling back a reputation.
So how on earth did we get by before we could go online and check out the reviews? The fact is, we did and reading someone else’s opinion of a place should not be the deciding factor on where you’re going to eat tonight or where your next holiday will be.
Unless there are rats… or bullet-holes in the walls…