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Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force by Rob Fuggetta

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Chapter 13

Advocates Rack Up Sales for Hotels and Airlines

Quick quiz: Which of the following has the greatest influence over travelers' purchase decisions?

a. Online ads
b. E-mails
c. Brand websites
d. Recommendations from unpaid Brand Advocates

Need a lifeline? I didn't think so.

The answer is “d.” Recommendations from unpaid Brand Advocates are the number one influencer of travelers' purchase decisions. This includes positive reviews on TripAdvisor, glowing comments on social networks, and Advocate feedback elsewhere on the social web, plus offline advocacy.

In the latest study to prove the power of advocacy, the UK-based Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) asked travelers what inspires them most when choosing a vacation site. “Facebook photos from families and friends” was cited by only 6 percent of responders. But “recommendations from family and friends” came out on top with 45 percent selecting it as their top factor. This was well ahead of travel company websites or brochures, which secured 36 percent of the vote.

Now, travel marketing innovators are taking social media to the next step. They're identifying their highly satisfied guests (Brand Advocates) and giving them online tools to recommend and promote their properties. This is enabling hotels and others to boost their online ratings on TripAdvisor and other hotel sites plus cost-effectively increase sales.

Beyond Reviews

I want to be crystal-clear about this: I'm not talking about putting guest reviews on ...

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