The growing importance of the digital world for the travel and vacation industry has presented increasing opportunities for timeshare resorts to improve the connection they have with their guests. Holidaymakers are increasingly posting their opinions online about their resort both during and after their stay.

This is being done through a number of different means including travel review sites such as Tripadvisor, social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus, and in blog posts. As increasing numbers of people consume video content online, video reviews of travel destinations, including timeshare resorts will also likely be added to this digital mix.

The digital world is here to stay

Digital guest reviews are here to stay and their significance is only set to grow in online presence and real world importance. This is true for all industries, but especially for some such as the travel industry. This is due to the fact that vacations are extremely important in people’s lives, so many spend a significant amount of time researching hotel and resort options before deciding to spend their hard earned salary.

People want to know they are making the right choice as most are only able to take one or two vacations per year, and they are increasingly turning to the opinions of others online to decide before they buy.

This combination definitely needs to be taken notice of by hotel and resort companies, as in general what people write online cannot be controlled. People love to voice their opinion on things important to them, such as their holiday, and the online tools freely available to them has given them a global audience. Rather than trusting what the brands are saying, holidaymakers are turning to the opinions of the online world as they know these are generally less biased.

Become a good listener

There are a number of key procedures to take to successfully manage resort reputation online, in the face of all these digital changes. One of the most important is to become a good listener. Negative comments or criticisms should not be seen as a problem, but instead an opportunity to improve your guest experience.

Before the advent of this online commentary it would be much more difficult to gather the opinions of clients. Now there is a wealth of opinion that is being freely posted online, so make sure your resort is not just broadcasting but listening to this free conversation.

Paid solutions

There are some brilliant paid solutions which can be used to monitor the online reputation of your hotel or resort such as Revinate and ReviewPro. Both of these offer an array of different tools which allow your marketing team to monitor what your guests are saying across review sites and social media. They have systems in place that can be utilized to increase the number of reviews written on sites like TripAdvisor and to improve your resort’s ranking.

These Hotel Reputation Management products also have post stay surveys which can be sent out to your guests by email that can then automatically be posted onto TripAdvisor. The data gathered from these surveys is extensive and gives fantastic insight into what you are doing right, and more importantly what improvements can be made.

Freely available information from review sites, blogs and social media

Review sites, blogs and social media are an excellent source of information that timeshare resorts can tap into to find out what is being said by their guests. Best of all these are free to access and find information from. This presents an excellent opportunity to innovate, grow and improve. Rather than trying to hide negative reviews, resorts should take into account what is being said and make the relevant changes.

For example a guest may write a review of your resort on site such as TripAdvisor. Even if it is overwhelmingly positive there may be some suggestions for improvement such as faster wifi that is easier to connect to. It is important to take on board these issues and see if others are having the same problem. If enough people are voicing a concern about an issue such as slow wifi, then this could easily put off potential holidaymakers from choosing your resort.

While less comprehensive than the paid option from these businesses there are also very useful free tools that can be used from companies such as Hootsuite. These allow your resort marketing team to monitor what is being said about your brand across multiple social media channels.

Respond quickly and effectively

Social media is here to stay and if you are not using it effectively your resort will appear out of touch. In addition to expressing their opinions on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, guests are increasingly expecting to be able to contact brands with questions or problems. If these are ignored then this reflects badly on your brand.

If your resort chooses to be on social media, then you need to make responding quickly to these questions a priority. If you don’t, a potential guest could choose to stay elsewhere, or you could receive a negative review.

Social media allows your staff and brand to converse with your guests in a way that was not possible in the past. Your brand can significantly improve its online reputation if it takes a human response approach rather than acting disconnected and too seriously. Guests enjoy friendly interactions which is true whether it is face to face with your resort reception staff, or with a team member conversing with them via Twitter. The lines between the real world and online world are becoming increasingly blurred, and a positive online conversation can turn into a potential guest.

In addition to this the guest who had this great conversation online is more likely to connect with your brand on social media and share your content, and also recommend your brand to friends both online and in real life. Do not underestimate the power of these positive online interactions through social media. Your next positive social media interaction might just be your next best advertising, especially if they are an influencer with a significant online following!

The KLM effect

Some brands are awful on social media, most use it quite well, and then there are those that are exceptional. One such example is KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines. They have really taken on board the power of social to interact with their clients and seen the opportunity it has presented. Their Twitter bio reads: “Official global account of KLM. We are here 24/7 for service in 13 languages. Share personal details only in private messages!”  The company states on Twitter that if you have a question or request then will aim to reply to you within 26 minutes.

This is an outstanding example of a brand fully integrating social into their business. Rather than seeing social media as something to add onto the brand, or even worse, ignore, KLM has decided that it is important enough to invest a significant amount of time and money into. If one of the best and most recognized airlines in the world is doing this, then it suggests your resort should be too.

Your guests can become your best advertisers

People trust friends, family and increasingly their online connections. Therefore in effect every guest is a potential advertiser and advocate for your resort. Even better though, is that most are connected to at least one social media account, and many use multiple accounts. Guests love to post photos and videos of the amazing place they are staying and your resort should not ignore these posts but utilize them for maximum impact.

If a guest posts an excellent photo of the pool, their room or their meal for example, your marketing team should share this and thank the guest. The guest will feel great and likely post more media, and others will see this and also post videos and photos. Everyone likes to receive praise for the content they post, so make sure your resort taps into this free opportunity.

Integrate social into your business by empowering staff and allowing different departments to get involved

As we’ve seen with KLM, some of the best brands in the world are integrating social media and other online tools into their business model for success. KLM have stated that around 70% of the engagement they receive on Facebook comes via Direct Messaging. Individuals are increasingly utilising Direct Messaging on social media to contact businesses, rather than email, as it often results in a faster response to their queries.

Something that often discourages staff from getting involved in this though, is that they view it is as something extra on top of their work load. Instead your resort should allocate time to at least some of your team to monitor review sites, social media and the conversation

They should also be given freedom to interact with guests on social media with positive engagement including sharing, liking and commenting on posts and creating a positive conversation about your resort. This will show others that your resort has a friendly, caring staff which will encourage them to book a stay.

Ultimately your resort should empower key staff members on social media by allowing different departments to get involved, rather than solely relying on the marketing department. In the same way that all members of your team, can create a friendly, inviting atmosphere in person, this can be extended to the digital world via social media which can have an equally powerful effect.