Online Reputation Management Essay
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Sheraton Group of Hotels
Online reputation management is a program that is employed by companies and individuals to monitor, verify, influence and improve the feedback that people post about them on the internet (Tuttle, 2013). Sheraton hotels use a very professional online reputation management team which has helped it become a leading hospitality destination for tourists and business men and women. This paper is intended to explore online reputation management. It shall describe how Sheraton hotels have used online reputation management to establish their brand in the hotel industry. At the end of the paper, it shall be clear that online reputation management is an important aspect for any service organization.
It is said that information is power. An online reputation program will assist in verifying the quality of information circulating on the internet about the hotel. The information may not necessarily be negative. It could be good information, but not accurate. Negative information can be hidden or removed altogether by online reputation management. Customers use the internet to express their feelings and opinions about the services rendered by Sheraton hotels. For a successful online reputation management, it is necessary to have a department that reviews both positive and negative customer feedback. What people say about your hotel equals to reputation (Smith, 2013). A good example of this is the accreditation program done by consumeraffairs.com. Sheraton hotels’ online reputation management team has issued a statement on this website to make clear the hotels’ position. The statement reads: “Sheraton Hotels does NOT participate in the ConsumerAffairs accreditation program.”
Part of the services that make Sheraton hotels’ customer satisfied is the instant feedback they receive from online reputation management. When customers make or cancel reservations online, they receive instant emails confirming their requests. This is a convenient and cost effective way of communication that satisfies all the parties involved.
The online reputation management team could also perform an advisory role to the hotels’ top level management as well as other departments. Since online reputation management monitors the hotels’ internet reputation, it has access to valuable information concerning the hotel industry (Walsh, 2002). With this information online reputation management team is able to advise top management about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that exists in the industry (a SWOT analysis).
When a competing hotel, a dissatisfied customer or a past employee posts false and damaging information about Sheraton hotel on the internet, the online reputation management team is able to flag this information and verify its source. This could prove crucial to the legal team if the hotel management decides to take legal action (Pho, 2013). This is because the source of this information will need to be verified in a court of law. An example of this is when Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the company that owns Sheraton hotels filed a lawsuit against Hilton Worldwide in April 2009. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide was accusing Hilton Worldwide of corporate espionage. The case was won by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide because their online reputation management was able to prove that Hilton Worldwide was using the internet and other channels to spy on Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Online reputation management can also assist the marketing department. This it achieves by promoting positive and accurate information about Sheraton hotels on the internet and making sure the information reaches as many customers as possible. Online reputation management also makes sure the advertisements made online by the hotel’s marketing department are not removed or distorted by hostile competitors (Richardson, 2013). An example can be when the hotels try to market their new technologies. This is seen when the Sheraton hotels’ holding company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, launched the “ProMeetings” app. Online reputation management is responsible in ensuring that only accurate information about the app is available online. Online reputation management will also relay customer feedback to relevant departments for further action.
Consumers usually need enough information before buying a product. This information is usually achieved through face to face inquiries and interpersonal influence. In hospitality industry, the products in question are intangible and in the case of an international organization like Sheraton hotels, face to face inquiry is almost impossible (Litvin, 2008). Online reputation management is tasked with assuring and convincing customers who seek to make reservations online.
Finally, online reputation management also helps in online review of Sheraton hotels’ customers. Fake reviews eventually prove to be a liability and hence Sheraton hotels uses online reputation management to review its position based on customer feedback. Negative but credible feedback helps the hotel improve its service delivery while positive feedback helps the hotel increase bookings which will then increase profits (Richardson, 2013). This is because customers read online reviews first before deciding whether or not to book.
In conclusion, online reputation management acts as an information watchdog that lets positive information flow and hides or removes hostile internet postings. It can also support other departments of the hotel such as marketing and legal as well as conduct a SWOT analysis to help management in strategy formulation and implementation. Moreover, it provides interpersonal influence that customers seek before making online bookings. A quality online reputation management unit will also conduct credible online reviews that will increase online hotel bookings that lead to increased revenue.
Tuttle, B. (2013, September 21). Time .
Richardson, R. (2013, January 13). Retrieved from
Pho, K., & Gay, S. (2013). Establishing, managing, and protecting your online reputation: A social media guide for physicians and medical practices.
Jones, M. & Thevenot, G. Hospitality Review.
Walsh, T. (2002). The reputation vortex: Online reputation management. London: Spiro Press.
Smith, M.D. (2013, January 26). The Guardian.
Litvin, S. W., Goldsmith, R. E., & Pan, B. (2008). Tourism management, 29 (3), 458-468
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