Today (12th November 2010) Pontin's has been placed into administration with over 800 staff facing the chop. This follows a disastrous trading period where competition has been tough and clearly Pontin's has lost favor with holiday makers who have been flocking to rivals such as Butlin's who just announced record profits of 88 Million this year.
In the age of the Internet, holiday makers do everything from book their holidays online, to researching these destinations and looking at the feedback from other holiday goers. The last thing anyone wants is a nightmare holiday, but with online review sites allowing people to post their feedback where the rest of the world can quickly see, companies like Pontin's who have had a flurry of negative reviews posted about them have failed to manage their online reputations effectively and therefore is it any wonder that they have seen visitor numbers fall off a cliff? While their rivals blossom!
It should serve as a stark reminder to all businesses which have negative press online that if they do not effectively manage their online reputations they will no doubt suffer the wrath of the downturn.
What did Pontin's do wrong?To get an insight of what Pontins did wrong, take a look at the video above, this analysis was made on the company more than 9 months ago before the height of the holiday season! It provides a historical perspective of what people saw when they searched for "Pontins" in Google. It shows that the company was suffering with negative reviews being listed on the first page of Google (often above the fold) for the companies main search term (its name). In this video you can see exactly what potential holiday makers would have seen while considering booking their summer holidays this year.
It makes for stark reading and is a classic brand reputation management failure. It is vital that all online companies control the top 10 or 20 places when someone searches their brand name, and effectively crowd out any erroneous review sites which are unregulated and can easily be used by competitors to cast a shadow over the companies reputation, putting them in a bad light. What's even worse is such visible bad press can lead to a further snowballing effect where others can become encouraged to get on the bandwagon further sticking the knife in when they see the victim loosing blood.
Controlling your brands online reputation is a vital part of promoting your company online and is beyond the scope of having a competent web development department. Expertise is needed in areas such as search engine optimization but it is often not an SEO agency task. SEO agencies are normally responsible for gaining a company traffic from the search engines, but in the task of reputation management you need a specialized set of skills in order to ensure your online efforts are not easily destroyed by malicious actions.