Power of the people

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Destination Analysts, a marketing and research company specializing in the travel industry, yesterday released the findings from its bi-annual âœState of the American Travelerâ study. The survey queried over a thousand adult Americans about their use of technology in travel planning, while creating an in-depth map of their travel habits and opinions. The survey shows how much user-generated content is reaching a critical mass in the travel realm. In the past 12 months, over half of leisure travelers say they've selected a specific hotel based on information gathered online. Says Erin Francis, managing partner at Destination Analysts: âœAbout one third of leisure travelers told us that they've used reviews of hotels posted by their fellow travelers to plan their trips in the past year.â

I don't know about you, but whenever I travel now, I go to TripAdvisor.com to check out user reviews of the hotel I plan on visiting. Sure, hoteliers gripe about what they perceive as sometimes unfair and nasty reviews (when they're negative) but hotels often benefit from the glowing posts as well. And unless a property is a real dog, you'll typically find a fair representation of the yeahs and nays.

So I'm curious: What do you hoteliers think of these user-generated sites? Do you find them helpful, or damaging? What do you do, if anything, to fight back against what you may perceive as an unfair assessment of your hotel and/or services (other than posting bogus âœguestâ reports of your own)?

The fact is, these sites will continue to gain in strength and influence. How do you harness the power of the people to benefit your hotel?

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