“Our Heads Are Round so our Thoughts Can Change Direction” [Francis Picabia]

qype/yelpHolidayCheckLately major discussions in Germany and online are the various public “rating” sites. Using Qype myself and HolidayCheck for the hotel ratings and reviews, I am a mature online user, able to read as well between lines as when I read the catalogue of a tour operator…

From many of my replies here the extract: It’s hyped. So to get the right perspective, sit back and think about it for some minutes. As you hopefully know Shift Happens, we are facing an information flooding. Where in the “good old days” it was necessary to know the restaurant and hotel critics, the authors of the major travel guides, it is now necessary to also know the major online portals. But it is not necessary to search and review all and any blog entries somewhere. That is “lost in the noise”, just as it was without Internet, where the noise existed (called “word-to-mouth-propaganda”).

Where in the good old days, the books and critics published in print had the main impact to day-to-day operations, the Internet offers another advantage. If you had a bad reputation in the past, it took you at least a year to get an update (new management, renovation, …) into the next edition. In the Internet, this can be promoted much faster.
But as fast, a bad rating can be outsmarted by good customers. If you have a problem with service, it is not the rating that sucks, but you better improve the service quality and proactively market it. Like the good old “We listen to our customers”…

Everything becomes public (and published) these days. But the users resort back to “trusted brands”, of which some (like HolidayCheck) are new, but don’t ignore the value of printed travel guides. It’s a shift from “search available information” to “select”. Where information was rare, it is now flooding us: “Select” means to be able to qualify the valuable information from the noise. And for the rated company to learn, what information has impact on the customers – and which are “just another one” with minor impact.

GartnerHypeCycleDo not ignore them. But don’t let the makers of these sites qualify their importance for you. The only ones who can are your customers and you. So if approached by another of these important experts telling you what you have to do: Don’t let them unsettle you. Sit back, think about it. But keep in mind: These tools do have their value and after a hype peak and a disillusionary phase, they’ll be here to stay…

[Update: I did not move from Qype to Yelp, there’s many other such “tools” meanwhile and I was unhappy with the user management of Yelp]

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