Popular social networking sites could spell trouble for travel companies as users upload content based on bad experiences whilst on holiday.
This is the stark warning from a UK law firm, Betesh Fox, following the inexorable growth of video and photo-hosting sites this year and by enthusiasm among users to share bad experiences with fellow consumers rather than directly with companies.
The firm said holiday brands should monitor sites such as YouTube in case customers post items that could reflect badly on their businesses.
There is a growing concern that in the past disgruntled holidaymakers would have taken pictures or video of building sites adjacent to hotels, before making a complaint to the holiday provider.
The internet has given consumers the power to share their woes with a wider community and create an overwhelmingly negative impression of a company, the company said.
Mark Higgins of Betesh Fox said: “Travel companies must keep up to date with internet trends so they can protect themselves from holidaymakers with a grievance or embarrassing footage that could bring their company into disrepute.
“Peer-to-peer interaction is not governed by revenue, it’s governed by the interests of the people who post on the website and this is where the popularity arises.
“Companies have been caught out by people posting negative stories about their business in online diaries or blogs but this new generation of interactive website allows users to post videos taken from camcorders and mobile phones.”
Recently the Manchester fire service was forced to suspend an officer after he was filmed climbing into a tumble dryer which was switched on by colleagues. Footage of the incident found itself on a string of internet sites and was a major embarrassment for the brigade.