Those mentioned may cringe at my publicizing this, but herein is a fascinating aspect of the B2C and B2B communication matrix. The actions mentioned above, including myriad other duties being carried out by all, took less than an hour and thirty minutes. That includes the writing of the post as well. Now this is not some blatant plug for our own PR serices, I assure you. Kevin May treats news as news, period. What should be significant is how customers, businesses, and the media are intertwined.
A previous report by WIHP, also published by Tnooz and other outlets, talks about the "Moment of Truth" theories put forth first by Procter and Gamble, to describe the purchase cycle for customers. Later, this topic was amplified by free thinkers like my friend Brian Solis (who added the Ultimate Moment plus more). While a casual look at the new WIHP data seems to maximize OTAs and TripAdvisor, a phone conversation this morning with WIHP's Chief Commercial Officer, Martin Soler, speaks of social media impacting these decisions (potentially) far more dramatically, and I quote;
"Social media's impact on the buying decision is not readily seen in our study. In the past we have considered Facebook, Twitter, and the other channels as only modifiers and lesser marketing channels. However, if we look deeper into these channels, and combine aspects of TripAdvisor with Family and Friends, then social media quickly becomes the dominant marketing force behind booking decisions."
Soler and I have been discussing this for a year actually. What marketers have identified as purely marketing or advertising effect is, in fact, a combination of the traditional "triad" of PR, marketing, and advertising, now intertwined within a new digital business framework - a framework changing so fast, that we are struggling to keep up. With a "changed" TripAdvisor in the spotlight (Soler also suggests TA shifted to independent hotel focus), let's revert back to our BrandWatch tool for even more PR clarity.
The previous aformentioned report here on Social Media Today brought forth an interesting case study, plus an interesting Scandinavian billionaire, owner of Nordic Choice Hotels, Petter Stordalen. I mention his name again because "story" elements are crucial facets of media outreach, and consequently customer conversion as well. Tracking a billionaire nixing porn at his hotels, and superimposing some social media "juice" is a bit of dream work, or child's play, for reaching people. Readers tend to enjoy those elements, if you know what I mean.
A loose collaboration with Nordic Choice's Thief Hotel in Oslo allowed us some insight. Some may remember when Stordalen took all the pornography from his TV channels out, in support of abused children etc. In the graphic above using BrandWatch to monitor social and other mentions of Nordic Choice Hotels. You will denote distinct peaks and valleys, which we purposely either contributed to, or refrained from mentioning the hotel group on. It's the "valleys" which bear the most scrutiny, actually.
What you are seeing is an overt, unsolicited PR effort set onto a hotel news instance. What that means simply is, I set out to purposefully spead a good news story with the right components. Later, we contacted The Thief and Nordic Choice to garner some loose data for proving out this effort.
Now, in the screenshot below you see isolated TripAdvisor mention instances over the course of our testing the brand, in the valleys and for some of the peak moments. This was taken from the "general" tab of referenced mentions, there are other TripAdvisor and even OTA instances in other categories.
As was suggested by WIHP's Martin Soler, what ends up being more true is that TripAdvisor is, in fact, a social media conduit, as much as it is a booking, or review engine for travelers. As most experts would agree, this is by design, particularly since the service leaned toward smaller brands too. Other travel booking sites like Stay.com, which offers deeper destination guides etc., and even traditional OTAs and booking portals like Hotels.com, these too end up as part of the social-digital channel. Then factoring in something WIHP and others know about via these surveys, the fact that many takers actually forget that "Friends and Family" suggest hotels and other commodities, and you have exactly what Soler explains in his passing quote above.
For those of us in the business of providing cutting edge advice, actions, or delivered products to clients, staying on top of the ball is vital to survival. WIHP has shown with this and other surveys, how TripAdvisor has rolled with the proverbial punches, to develop into whatever the situation calls for.
As we go forward into a near "full mobile" business environment, speed of adaptation and proving out the best customer experiience will separate successful business from failed ones. I am reminded today of something a friend of mine said recently; "It's the Customer Experience. Stupid" in this superb Huffington Post piece about Brian Solis.
While Brian exhibits a cool most of us do not have over the frustration of "hammering" home these messages, I know he is the least likely to use the "s" word too. That said, pretty soon our proving will be done on the guest experience ruling tomorrow. To quote directly from Paul Gillin's report, he tells Solis it might be hard to enthrall hardware customers searching for hammers, to which Solis replies:
"I can't think of any business that can't surprise and delight customers."
If you are out to delight your customers, isn't it a good idea to be where they are? To change your business to suite their needs? And isn't hospitality really about public relations? Stay tuned for part three with more definitive strategies for customer engagement.
*WIHP is a business partner of Pamil Visions Public Relatons