NB: This is a guest article by Anthony Rawlins, managing director of DigitalVisitor.
Many people rely on TripAdvisor to choose accommodation for their holiday and many businesses incorporate its reviews on their own sites.
In fact, the user review giant receives 50 million users every month.
Bad publicityÂ seems to linger round TripAdvisor, as well as an investigation being carried out by the Advertising Standards Authority over claims it has untrustworthy reviews, so where does this leave hoteliers and property owners who want to provide reviews to potential customers?
One option is collect reviews on your own website.
Some applications are simple plugs-in to any existing website, allowing organisations such as hotels, restaurants and travel organisations, to gather reviews, comments, videos, and photos on their own website.
Not only does this benefit the organisation because it adds inspiring content on their website, drives traffic and builds loyalty, but it also provides potential customers with the user generated content they now want to see before making a purchasing decision.
We are not saying you should exclude Tripadvisor from your marketing strategy, but you should certainly consider other options.
One of the key benefits is that property owners have greater control over moderation. Most onsite review platforms provide the organisation with the ability to approve any reviews before they go live.
This gives you the opportunity to firstly ensure that the review is legitimate, and secondly, it gives you a chance to resolve any serious issues directly with the unhappy customer. It is not a matter of removing bad reviews, but rather, it gives you the opportunity to be pro-active about any issues.
Furthermore, publically responding via your website and under your own brand to an unfavourable review, is more often than not, looked favourably upon by potential customers.
It builds trust and confidence that this is an organisation that cares about their customers, and a high level of trust in a brand, leads to a long-term relationship.
There are of course advantages and disadvantages of each…
- It is already an established website receiving 40 million visitors each month, so your brand can be exposed to a huge audience.
- Due to the large amount of traffic, you may gather reviews quicker.
- Reviews on an external website may appear to some as being more honest as they are less likely to be tampered with by the brand.
- No control over how the reviews appear.
- Less control over content and moderation â€“ there are many stories online about hoteliers who have contacted TripAdvisor to report a fake or inappropriate review, only to be told “the situation is currently under investigation and a final determination will be made once the investigation is complete. Please allow up to 14 days for this process to be completed” â€“ so in the meantime, the fake review remains online for all to see.
- No ownership of multimedia content uploaded.
- Reviews are appearing alongside reviews from your competitors, so people can easily be drawn away from yours.
- If you want to integrate content from TripAdvisor on your site, some limited options are available for free but other products require a licensing agreement to access which can cost thousands of pounds.
- Limited SEO benefit for your website
Gathering reviews on your website
- More control over where you want the reviews to appear. We believe that reviews, ratings, and discussion shown against relevant products and services on your website will immerse your online visitors amongst your brand and messages. So we have created a range of applications that can be integrated into any page, on any website.
- Full control over moderation enabling you to remove any inappropriate or spammy content.
- You gather relevant information about your customers â€“ and can therefore develop high level, targeted communications.
- The content uploaded is yours to use in future marketing.
- Photos and videos will enhance your website visually.
- Regularly added content will provide SEO benefit for your website
- You will need to keep an eye on the content being uploaded, but this should be the case anywhere online!
- Ongoing engagement is required.
- You will need to generate/encourage content. A good way to do this is to ensure a link to wherever your reviews are posted is included in any communications with guests. Read more tips here…
- You may incur a license fee.
- Make sure you check the functionality provided by the platform or applications suits your needs.
Reviews are important in the travel industry specifically, 66% of people are influenced by user reviews when searching online, but many travel brands are still wary of enabling reviews on their own website.
Some fear that it will leave their brand open to all kinds of comments, but in this transparent world of marketing, user reviews enable a company to be proactive about improving their products and services.
Reviews on your website give your visitors a reason to stay on your site â€“ according to HotelMarketing.com, between 25-40% of people who leave a hotel website do so to read online review.
So publishing reviews directly on your hotel website fights this loss of traffic, and increases the probability of a direct booking right there on your own website.
NB: This is a guest article by Anthony Rawlins, managing director of Digital Visitor.