Travel Trends – Disney, TripAdvisor, Boomers Go Online

Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?

Disney To Offer Mobile Tours – A quick excerpt from a recent Disney corporate communication email (MouseMail: An Update for Community Leaders):

Marking a first in both the travel and mobile industries, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Verizon are teaming up for a multi-year relationship designed to enhance the guest experience – before, during and after guests arrive at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. This new service allows guests to have a personal tour guide in their wireless phones. Early next year guests will also use Verizon Wireless’ technology when experiencing Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, an ultra-interactive attraction coming to Epcot® in Walt Disney World Resort. “Imagine receiving up to the minute tips on special Park activities with just the touch of a button or receiving a call from Buzz Lightyear welcoming you to the Magic Kingdom,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Unfortunately, not a lot of substance to that story, however an interesting offering from Disney that expands their utilization of an increasingly common touch point for travelers, the cell phone.  As many of us within the travel industry (any industry for that matter) have seen during the past several years, the rapid adoption and refinement of mobile technology is presenting new methods for guest relations, marketing and communications.

For Disney or any organization, offering interaction via a cell phone is a logical next step.  Receiving ride wait time updates, text for dinner reservations or on-demand audio tours of the parks are ideal ways to leverage the use of cell phones.  As we have all seen, the airline industry has successfully used mobile technology for online check-in, flight status and updates.

With the continuing advancements in mobile tech, expect to see further integration and opportunities for travel organizations.

Negative Reviews on TripAdvisor – For those of you who do not belong to the Travel 2.0 group on LinkedIn, you should join.  Currently, there are quite a few good discussions among the more that 3,500+ group members, including this one about TripAdvisor.  Here are the highlights:

Original Question:

We all have had at least one bad review. Let’s face it; people complain a lot faster and louder than they compliment. I was pondering the idea of sending an e-mail SOS to my current client list with the request to post a review of the hotel on TripAdvisor or any other review site of their choice. I wondered if I could make it a contest, say, e-mail me with the link to your review and have it entered into a drawing for a free weekend, with no preference of good or bad reviews. Does anyone have any input on this idea?

Some of the 19 (and counting) responses:

Another idea: you can address the bad review directly on TripAdvisor (if you have claimed your listing). A simple note from your GM either clarifying inaccuracies or apologizing and offering corrective measures can go a long way on these user-generated sites. Most complaints just want to be heard, and engaged. I have all of my clients draft mock-answers, and reply to EVERY review (on TripAdvisor and a few other sites).

– one answer for a compliment
– one answer for a negative and inaccurate review
– one answer for a negative and accurate review

By starting with sample replies, you just need to tweak them when needed instead of starting from scratch. Also, keep in mind that no one has 100% good reviews…it looks staged if you do. One bad apple amidst a lot of great reviews can actually help your credibility.

Senior staff need to take a close look at the property and devise a plan for property upkeep and feedback. If they know of any guests who were not pleased, they may want to invite them back with a complimentary night or reduced rate to show them the improved look at the resort.

Plus, a great response from Brian Payea at TripAdvisor:

(And kudos to Brian for joining, listening and responding on behalf of TripAdvisor to the question.  Social marketing at it’s best.)

I’ve been a member of this group for a while, and this is my first post. First, I’d like to thank everyone for their spirited discussion of TripAdvisor – you’ve given us a fantastic opportunity to explain a few things to a very heavily invested community, and we really appreciate it.

Jenifer’s initial post started with a common misconception – she expects that people are much more inclined to complain than compliment. On TripAdvisor, it’s actually much more common for a traveler to praise a hotel than to complain. The most common rating (41% of all ratings) on TripAdvisor by a traveler is five “owls” – the top rating. The next most common is four owls, accounting for 27% of the ratings. Only 12% of the reviews give a hotel a one-owl rating. Travelers email us frequently to explain that they see TripAdvisor as a community, and when they benefit by reading another traveler’s reviews, they feel like they want to give back to the community and share their stories to help others plan and have a perfect trip. So it’s more often about helping others have a great stay than reporting a bad experience. But reporting a bad experience is also very important and is one of the reasons so many travelers trust the reviews – because they’re independent and unfiltered.

Natasha suggested ways to solicit reviews from guests, and we actually encourage hoteliers to ask their guests to submit reviews, but not by offering incentives such as a complimentary overnight. Incentives are a violation of our terms of service. When we learn about those types of practices, the property’s listing on TripAdvisor is affected, but the property is not removed from the site.

A very powerful but extremely underutilized tool is TripAdvisor’s management response. When a hotelier posts a management response, it sends a strong message to future guests about their commitment to guest satisfaction. Oftentimes, the management response can do more to influence a traveler than the original post, even if the review was a rant. Management response guidelines are posted at

As to Mark Scott’s question – five years from now? Who knows? I can report that it’s very difficult to build the critical mass of reviews necessary for a site to be relevant to a large number of travelers. It took years for TripAdvisor to hit a million reviews and opinions, and then the viral effect kicked in and we began doubling rapidly – and as our founder and CEO often says, it was hard work. It’s also a challenge for sites to host reviews of their own properties and convince readers that they are impartial. I’ll be very excited to come back to this forum in five years and see where the industry stands.

As for now, we’re offering a number of tools for hotels and destinations to take the content from TripAdvisor and publish it on their own sites in a widget. If they want to add fresh, independent reviews to their web site, all they have to do is scroll down to the bottom of their hotel page on TripAdvisor and click on the owner’s link to get started.

Adrienne suggested that management monitor reviews for their hotels. It’s very easy to monitor TripAdvisor reviews. Every hotel detail page on TripAdvisor includes a tab at the top of the page labeled “feeds.” By clicking this tab, a manager can subscribe to an RSS (real simple syndication) of the reviews for their hotel. When they open their RSS reader (free from Google, MSN, etc.), the most recent reviews of their hotel are delivered right to their desktop.

Thanks again for the opportunity to participate in this group.

Boomers Go Online – Stats on the rise of Boomers online from eMarketer:

Boomers have never lacked for attitude, and now they make up the largest group of US Internet users. At 56.7 million strong they constitute nearly 30% of the online population.

“Marketers targeting boomers online would be mistaken to treat them all alike,” says Lisa Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Boomers Online: Attitude Is Everything. “Older boomers, ages 54 to 62, use media more like the ‘matures’ who precede them, and younger boomers, ages 44 to 53, act more like Gen Xers online.”

About 74% of boomers use the Internet at least once a month.

However, their attitude toward the Internet is less a love affair and more a marriage of convenience. They go online to get things done, such as finding information on products and services, shopping, and staying in touch with friends and family.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.