Like any other business, a hotel that wants to succeed needs to be in touch with the needs and wants of its customers and potential customers. This means that, just as a clothes retailer needs to stay up with the latest fashions, a hotel needs to be aware of the thinking of the people it wants to keep coming back, or pass through its doors for the first time. To do that means to gather as much information as possible, which can come from surveys, direct feedback given to staff, or from online reviews.
For any hotel with a strong online presence that includes a clear content strategy, the last of these is a source of information that cannot be ignored. When travellers write about their experiences on sites like Tripadvisor, they are offering the hotel and tourism industry a peep deep into the mind of their customers. A superficial response might be to dismiss such reviews as merely the dissatisfied minority letting off steam, and therefore of little use in most cases. However, the fact is that there will often emerge common gripes, while at the same time not every review is negative. Some will be nuanced and detailed, while others will give fulsome praise. Indeed, positive reviews can be cited in content produced for a hotel, with a list of compliments and praise being included in content. This is not exactly reinventing the wheel; it works on the same principle as a book whose dust cover contains compliments by well-known persons who have read it and praised it.
Nonetheless, the power of endorsement is enduring and if it comes from a customer, it is more likely to be trusted by the average tourist. Where a content strategy can really strike gold is when it is able to publisher-generated content. It is very easy to populate a web page with content that is written by a marketer and sounds like it, with any number of cliches and jargon that will put people off. By contrast, by inviting customers to write their own reviews – perhaps with incentives like a prize draw for a free night’s stay – a site can harvest a number of customer-written pieces. These may be rough around the edges in terms of style and polish, but they will be authentic.
In producing content that both reflects the latest customer trends but also taps into positive cases of customer satisfaction, a hotel can find its content strategy plays a key role in helping it bring more people through the door.