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Online Communities Handbook: Building Your Business and Brand on the Web by Nancy Strauss, Anna Buss

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Interview

Could you talk about why you decided to include the community element in your website? How does that add to your service?

Our website was launched in July 2000, and by September it already included traveler opinions. Our community has three parts—the opinions, a discussion forum, and a blog—but the opinions are the most strategic part for us. Without traveler opinions, the only information would be promotional material from the accommodation owner.

A user who searches on Toprural.com sees both the positive and negative experiences of other travelers, and this creates trust. In the rural tourism market, there’s a very broad range of services: the accommodations are very different from each other and it’s important to have user opinions ...

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