Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Courting the Experts

(1:02) When I describe ActiveCaptain to someone not involved with boating I often hear, "So, it's like TripAdvisor for boating." I have always seen many parallels between ActiveCaptain and TripAdvisor.

(0:58) In their About Us page they state, "TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travelers." That's exactly what we do for boaters. TripAdvisor was one of the first major sites to throw the concept of "experts" on it's ear. After all, who is the real expert, the person sitting around thinking and writing about it or those out there actually doing it? I know who I look to for advice.

(0:50) For the marina this can lead to a bit of a problem. You are no longer dealing with a handful of self-proclaimed experts that you can easily identify and reach. Now you must reach the hundreds of boaters that pass through. How do you court those positive expert opinions?

(0:43) The simplistic answer is to treat all boaters well and I assume you already do that. The real issue then is how to turn your daily efforts into increased positive reviews resulting in more boaters coming in. I ran across some interesting advice on TripAdvisor. They suggest utilizing Management Response to increase engagement with your customers.

(0:36) Here's what they found: "Compared to properties that don't respond to reviews, those that respond to at least 13% of reviews see a 21% boost in engagement. And accommodations that respond to at least 50% of reviews increase their likelihood of receiving a booking inquiry by 24%." Plus, "Properties that don't respond to reviews have a 3.81 average review rating, with average rating jumping to 4.05 for accommodations that respond at least 40% of the time and 4.15 for properties with a 65%+ response rate."

(0:22) But remember there is still a balance. I believe responding to every review will quickly become tedious to the reader. After all, they want to hear what the real experts, their fellow boaters, have to say.

(0:17) TripAdvisor gives some great advice in this area that relates to you: "It's generally a good idea to respond to reviews that are negative, as well as those where you can correct a factual misstatement or write about an action you've taken to correct problems addressed in the review."

(0:09) With 60 million members, more than 260 million monthly visitors, and over 200 million reviews, TripAdvisor has learned a thing or two. ActiveCaptain doesn't come near that volume... yet. But applying some of their wisdom can certainly help you bring in more business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.