Latin America

How RCI Uses Online Reviews to Improve Communications, Build Credibility and Grow Sales

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What: Ana Acevedo, RCIs senior vice president of marketing and Portada Travel Marketing Board Member, tells Portada that online reviews are growing in importance in Latin America.
Why it matters: RCI is finding new ways to leverage online reviews to improve customer communications, build market credibility and increase sales.

Every time a customer stays at one of RCIs thousands of affiliated time share properties across the globe, RCI asks them to rate their experience, right down to the most minute detail, including the quality of the resorts housekeeping services.

RCI is one of the two largest timeshare companies in the world and works with more than 4,000 resorts.

Ana Laura Acevedo

Ana Laura Acevedo, Senior Vice President Marketing & Business Development, RCI Latin America

When an RCI member makes a negative remark on the companys rating system, RCI follows up by contacting the resort where the customer stayed.

“We let the resort know so they can answer directly,” RCIs senior vice president of marketing Ana Laura Acevedo tells Portada.

“Reviews are very important. In an industry likes ours, they are key because consumers dont always believe what you say as a brand.”

Reviews are very important. In an industry likes ours, they are key because consumers dont always believe what you say as a brand.

Faced with the outsized role online reviews play in consumer purchasing decisions, RCI has responded aggressively by turning customers comments into a powerful way of building brand credibility and communications.

Online reviews gaining weight in LATAM

“The importance of online reviews is growing rapidly in Latin America. Its already pretty strong in more mature markets like Brazil,” Acevedo says.

Five years ago, Brazilians Adriana Coelho and Andreia Assunção founded the Facebook page Viajando pela RCI to help consumers make decisions about purchasing and staying at timeshare properties.

The page has more than 7,000 followers. Comments by consumers can literally make or break a resort, according to Acevedo.

“It has gained so much strength that we are partners with them and we sponsor some of their events,” Acevedo tells Portada.

Questions about RCI that appear on the page are sent directly to RCIs social media.

In fact, the Facebook page attracts so much attention that the page administrator sends inquiries about RCI properties directly to RCIs salespeople, Coelho said at an event in June sponsored by the Brazilian publication Turismo Compartilhado.

Trip Advisor dominates

Trip Advisor is the most powerful and important online review site for the time share industry, according to Acevedo.

Recognizing Trip Advisors influence, RCI has an agreement with the site that allows RCI to republish on RCI websites Trip Advisor reviews written by RCI members.

RCI has also found other =ways to leverage the power of online reviews by consumers.

Software created by Chute Apps allows Facebook users who are RCI members to instantly authorize RCI to use timeshare experience photos the users post on Facebook in official RCI marketing.

The importance of online reviews is growing rapidly in Latin America. Its already pretty strong in more mature markets like Brazil.

Photos taken by RCIs customers reduce the need to rely on stock photography for its marketing. They also carry a lot more credibility with consumers, according to Acevedo.

Using RCI customers photos has generated an increase in the click-through rate on all of RCIs email, Facebook and Twitter campaigns, Acevedo says.

Social media monitoring

Social media monitoring technology also plays an important role in RCIs ability to respond to and leverage the power of online reviews.

RCI now uses the services of Revinate to monitor what guests are saying about RCIs affiliated resorts.

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“It pulls reviews from Booking.com, Expedia, tourism boards and anyone that has a travel site where members can post reviews. Its like a meta-searcher of reviews,” Acevedo tells Portada.

Using Revinates social media monitoring services also enables RCI to respond quickly to negative reviews.

Recent studies provide overwhelming evidence of the importance of online reviews in customers purchasing decisions.

95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.

Recent studies provide overwhelming evidence of the importance of online reviews in customers purchasing decisions.

According to a compilation of studies by the website G2 Crowd Learning Hub, nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase, and 72% of customers dont take action until they have read reviews.

“If you run a small business today, the single most important thing you can do to attract new customers is to take control of your online review score on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, FourSquare and TripAdvisor,” a recent column in Forbes Magazine advised readers.

Mark A. Browne

Mark A. Browne

Mark A. Browne is Portada's Marketing Innovation Editor. He is a bilingual (English-Spanish) writer, media relations manager, and content creation professional with an established record providing journalism, copywriting and analytical content services to major publishers, PR agencies and businesses in the United States, Latin America and Europe. His award-winning career as a reporter and editor includes daily and weekly newspaper experience and free-lance writing for major print and online publications.

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