You arrive on Friday evening and discover that the hotel is one giant building site.
You don't manage to sleep-in once over the weekend because of the builders in the hotel from 6:30am each morning. And there is dust everywhere!
By Sunday, martial relations are at an all time low. Determined to get revenge on Monday morning, you write an over the top diatribe on TripAdvisor warning all potential customers never to set foot in the hotel again.
The following week, the building work on the hotel is complete and the hotel is back to normal. However, your diatribe against the hotel on TripAdvisor remains at the top of the Search Engine pages for over 7 months.
Hundreds of potential customers over the 7 months decide not to stay at the hotel because of your comments - costing the hotel thousands of euros. Not only does your action have negative impact at bookings at this hotel, but all other hotels in the chain are also negatively impacted. This is not exactly fair on the hotel that was investing to improve their services in the first place.
Three out of 10 American travelers who do travel research online read reviews written by other travelers, according to Forrester Research. Of the people who book hotels online, 30 percent have changed their hotel plans because of comments written by other travelers.
How do businesses solve this problem? The most efficient way is to hire the professional services of an online reputation management company. One company in Ireland that specialises in these services is Online-Reputation Management (ORM).
They work with businesses to protect the reputation of their brands, products and people online. They have built a technology platform especially for the job and they combine this with legal, technical and PR expertise.
Anna King from ORM explains - "We build up a real-time Reputation Profile of your business and use our technology to monitor every comment about your business on the Internet. In the hotel example, we would have found your comment when it was first posted and then neutralised the negative comment by posting information on TripAdvisor that the building work was completed. Doing nothing is the wrong option.
Our ORM platform enables key stakeholders within a company to change the Repuational Profile at any time. It is scalable and can protect one brand or multiple brands and reputations."
ORM claims it entered this business sector because it discovered competitors were regularly posting untrue comments about one of its technology businesses on the net.
"We built an application to keep an eye on what our competitors were doing and it started from there. If you try to do this in-house without the aid of technology, it takes a lot of time and resources and the results are patchy.
For larger organisations, it is vital to have one central unit that is completely focused on managing reputation online. We have brought the technical, legal and PR skills together in one place and businesses are outsourcing this task to us."
So far, ORM claims to have signed up hotel chains, estate agents and leisure centres.
It even has acted for a businessman who wanted to bury a story about a failed business venture. With the downturn in the Irish property market, ORM feels that its services are of particular benefit to house builders.
"The home-owners that move into a block of apartments first are much more likely to post negative comments because of the usual post-launch teething problems.
This can be for a variety of reasons such as unfinished landscaping, builders still on site etc. In a buyers market any negative comment can have profound effect on sales.
Property companies are spending vast amounts on advertising but tend to neglect this area. We believe that an investment in ORM protects the investment in advertising."
ORM believes that negative commentary on the Internet is a bit like graffiti. Ms King says - "If you let graffiti artists do what they want, a city would look very downbeat very quickly. It is the same with negative commentary on the net, so called 'digital dirt'; if you don't take care of it, your business reputation will suffer over time."
ORM offers a variety of packages based around its technology platform and companies can buy additional services as required. At the top end, businesses can have their online reputation monitored 365 days per year and have issues automatically referred to legal personnel for initial analysis.
It is very much a hands on approach as opposed to the hands off approach that has been prevalent up until now. The company uses its expertise to provide what it terms "Online Reputation Enhancements"
It is too early to say whether services such as these will curtail so called Internet rage but it seems that a fight back by businesses has begun.
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Online-Reputation Management (ORM) is a privately held business based in Ireland.
ORM is part of the Rathcaled Group that has investments in property, healthcare and technology. ORM provides technology and service solutions that help businesses to protect their reputations on the Internet.
For more information, contact Anna King at info@online-