And this above all: To thine customers be true!

Far be it for me to mangle one of my favorite Shakespearean quips, but honesty and truthfulness on the Web appear to be major issues these days. Consider the well-documented JCPenney fiasco from this past winter, or the general carnage and subsequent outrage that resulted from Google’s most recent adjustments in April. The word is out, more clearly now than it has been in the past: If you rely on e-commerce at all, exercise integrity on the Web and provide users with honest, genuine representations of your products or services.

For those who fail to do this… well, eventually, the piper comes to collect.

Case in point: Our European colleague, Eric Ingrand, recently shared an article with us that he stumbled across while doing some research for a potential client. Written by Gary Stoller of USA Today, it discusses how a traveler booked a hotel room on the Web thinking he’d gotten a tremendous deal in a great location. However, upon arrival he discovered he’d been misled, as the photos and Website copy indicated the hotel and room he’d booked appeared, shall we say, more aesthetically pleasing than they actually were.

In years past, practices such as these were commonplace, as travelers had few high-profile means for voicing their disappointment over being misled, treated poorly or just downright scammed after booking rooms online. That has roundly changed thanks to uber-social sites, such as Tripadvisor, Yelp and even Oyster. Today, disappointed travelers not only have a quick and easy portal for voicing their opinions, but can do it in forums that are very widely read and, as research has shown, can influence the booking decisions of other travelers.

Certainly, most businesses operate by the “customer is always right” credo, and even more go the extra mile to ensure that customers get, and are pleased with, what they have paid for. Unfortunately, these are the ones you rarely hear about. Mistakes happen, and it’s possible the hotel mentioned in the USA Today article is guilty of nothing more than not updating its Website.

Ah, but therein lies the rub!

With the “voice of the consumer” getting increasingly louder and louder on the Web (and, well we know, the loudest are the most unsatisfied), it’s urgently important that the content on your site is a current, honest reflection of EXACTLY what you offer. If it’s not, you can bet somebody will let the world know, and it may just impact your bottom line. This is why several large companies, particularly in the hospitality industry, quickly see the value-added element of the content management services EVG provides. We help our customers keep their content up to date because we know staying current can be the difference between making a sale or not, having a room booked or being the subject of a not-so-flattering article.

Joey Hall – Content Marketing VP

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