If you’re searching for hotels in an area you don’t know, what do you do? Buy a book? Call hotels directly? No. You can do that, and you might do that, but if you’re the type of person that does that, you’re a dying breed…
We search online. Google. Hotels.com. If a hotel isn’t there, it doesn’t exist. Of course there are some hotels in the middle of nowhere with no websites, but they’re in the minority. Don’t have a website and you lose business, it’s as simple as that.
The same can be said more and more about any kind of business. If you aren’t online, you don’t exist. If you’re an office supplies shop 5 minutes away from me, you don’t exist to me because i didn’t see you online when i was searching for office supplies stuff. Of course not everyone is like me. But we’re all moving online more and more whether we like it or not. We’re talking more online, doing more business online, searching more online…
Eric Schmidt (Google founder) recently said (and i’m quoting this slightly out of context but i’ll explain later…)
“The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you”.
Schmidt in this case was talking about data that can be gathered to predict how people will behave or where they will go. If you’re searching for ‘suicide’ and then ‘cliffs in x’, that could suggest something. Could be harmless, could be cause for concern. But we’re leaving more and more traces of ourselves online, sometimes without even realizing it. It doesn’t take a genius to put together a complete profile & analysis on someone like me who voluntarily publishes information about myself daily. The idea of true transparency scares the hell out of some people, but i always see it as a good thing.
Getting back to business and as a consumer, i want to see as many businesses as possible online, with as much information as possible about themselves online. So for a business, true transparency online should be the goal. It will help them to sell more and it will help me make better, more informed decisions. People are beginning to see through waffle much like they ignore banner ads or pop up ads. People are getting smarter and quicker at filtering information, so just give them what they want – everything – the good and the bad.
You could own the worst hotel in the world but have the best website in the world with the best sales pitch & photos. Would it matter? Probably Not. TripAdvisor is where people go to get ‘real’ information about a hotel. If i’m looking for a 5 star hotel, i’m not going to book a 5 star hotel that gets 1 star reviews on TripAdvisor. Why do i go to tripadvisor in the first place? Because i know i’ll get honest information, from honest people.
However, if that hotel were to put tripadvisor reviews on their website and personally respond to all reviews, then that’s honesty. It’s being open. Most people like that… it’s an admirable quality in a person or a business and usually results in long term loyalty, trust and respect.
So in summary, if you’re gonna be online, commit fully and follow these steps no matter how much damage they might do initially;
- Step 1: get online
- Step 2: publish as much info as you possibly can about yourself / business
- Step 3: cut the waffle and make that info honest