There are conversations going on everywhere, all the time by your customers. Whether good or bad it’s “word of mouth” and something we are largely ignorant of until it gets back to us in the form of a new booking because someone has recommended you, or a complaint about something that didn’t meet their expectations.

A lot of the time you will never know about these conversations….well not quite, fortunately there’s now a growing number of these conversations happening online. Social networking sites, travel review sites and blogs are all ways people are now sharing their experiences with others in a much more public and accessible way.

Many tourism operators are very nervous about this, but I say it’s an opportunity – to be part of the conversation. It’s an opportunity because you have the ability to respond, whether it’s a thank you or an explanation to resolve a situation that has been remedied, then you can have your say.

But how do you find out about these “conversations”? There are a number of ways and you won’t find them all, or have time to, but if you participate in a few simple ways you can at least find the one’s that will get the most exposure on mainstream websites, so here are some tips to help:

  • Set up and guide your customers to your own social media pages to make comments, this is your best approach. Have your own Twitter and Facebook pages that are promoted on your website for people to connect to, view and share their experiences on. Encourage them to comment, share their photos and recommendations. Overwhelmingly, if you have positive content on your own pages then this will overshadow any “glitches” where negative comments may have been made.
  • Embrace the key travel review sites and promote your listings with them on your website where you can place their logos and website “widgets” (like Tripadvisor, Rankers and Virtual Tourist) and link to read your reviews. You can see a bit more about this topic in an article I published in August 2009, “Tourism Operators: Make Traveller Reviews Part of Your Marketing Strategy
  • Do online searches for “mention” of your business name – you can google it or do this on sites like Twitter, Technorati and Social Mention.

Of course, if you are confident of your business delivery and service then you may not be bothered to do all of this, but then you’d be missing out on some great conversations!