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A recent seminar organised by one of  DTTT’s partner institutions, namely the eTourism Lab at Bournemouth University explored the trending issue of online reputation in the dynamic age of social media and mobile internet. The event gathered exerts from both the research community as well as the tourism industry in South England to discuss and explore the pertinent issues in this field.

ONLINE REPUTATION DETERMINES COMPETITIVENESS

It has become clear throughout the event that online reputation is a major determinant for  online reputation. Through the proliferation of social media and ever increasingly empowered consumers, online reputation is consistently revisited and impacted upon. Given that consumers share experiences online in near real time, a business’s image is constantly shaped, through reviews, pictures and videos shared among global audiences in online communities. Thus the world wide web is a game changer for online reputation

ZERO MOMENT OF TRUTH 

This is particularly well exemplified in the analogy of the Zero moment of truth. Traditionally the so called First Moment of Truth (or FMOT) describes the 3 to 7 seconds between the moment a consumer gets exposed for the first time to a product and his/her decision to purchase (or not to purchase) . Thanks to the world wide web, another critical stage evolved: the so-called Zero Moment of Truth (or ZMOT). ZMOT consists of the time between a consumers’ first exposure to an advertisement for a product and the ultimate purchase decision—with emphasis on what happens in between those two events: namely online research of the product.

ENGAGE WITH CUSTOMERS TO SAVE YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION 

As consumers‘ research of products, and travel products in particular is driven more and more by online channels such as review sites (e.g. Tripadvisor, Holidaycheck), recommendations in social networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) or visual content in social communities (e.g. Instagram, Flickr, Youtube); the zero moment of truth is steered by other consumers. This poses new challenges to tourism businesses. Especially service recovery has become increasingly important. As dissatisfied consumers can voice their anger through online channels to a global audience and thereby exert disastrous effects to an organization's online reputation, it is of upmost importance to detect online service complaints quickly and take appropriate measures to take the complaint offline and preserve the integrity of the brand.

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