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938 days ago
 

TripAdvisor dips toe into world of verified reviews via collection service for partners

Interesting developments at TripAdvisor with news that is has unveiled a system to allow third parties to collect reviews from customers which will then be flagged on the main site.

The service is being launched in conjunction with European hotel booking service EasyToBook (recently bought by the Travix mega-group under BCD Holdings), which has replaced its existing review system in favour of the TripAdvisor-run system.

This is a significant evolution of TripAdvisor’s user review model in that it is overseeing the entire review process on behalf of third parties, in this case an OTA.

Review Collection Solution will sit behind the customer’s review service, in this case a follow-up email which EasyToBook to sends to customers after they have stayed at a property.

The email will be co-branded by EasyToBook and TripAdvisor and will direct users to a form allowing them to complete their review of the property in the usual way.

Reviews will then be featured on both websites. On TripAdvisor they will be displayed with a note to say it was collected via EasyToBook and include the member name.

Whilst TripAdvisor has shown reviews collected by partners before (such as an agreement it has with Accor Hotels), this is the first that it has overseen the entire collection process where the customised service via CRM has been used.

Vice president of partnerships at TripAdvisor, Severine Philardeau, says:

“This move marks a shift in the way that Easytobook collect reviews following guest stays and will enable potential customers to make better informed decisions based on the insights and ratings of TripAdvisor’s entire community of travellers. We believe this will be a pioneering initiative for the rest of the hospitality industry.”

What TripAdvisor doesn’t say is that this also makes a shift away from the way it collects reviews itself, by using its own technology to capture opinions from customers that have actually stayed at the property, potentially removing the element of doubt many critics have over TripAdvisor in that it has no way of verifying if a member had actually stayed at a hotel.

It seems obvious that hotels would want reviews to appear on the user review giant with a mark to say that the comment from an actual customer was collected and verified by TripAdvisor.

The move comes just a month after a UK advertising regulator told TripAdvisor that it must stop claiming reviews are genuine and trusted.

NB: Survey image via Shutterstock.

 
 
Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.

 

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  1. Sara Nanda

    Hi Kuan,

    As you have rightly pointed out, the authenticity of reviews is very important to TripAdvisor. We recommend that travel businesses encourage their customers to write reviews by using the tools provided in the TripAdvisor Management Center. There are widgets and badges which hoteliers can put on their own sites, direct links which can be placed in emails sent to guests following their visit and cards or flyers which can be ordered – all free tools designed to encourage guests to write reviews.

    Hotel chains and OTAs can now also partner with us to take advantage of the new co-branded Review Collection Solution, which provides partners and their customers with a streamlined approach to writing a review.

    Sara

     
  2. Kuan Sng

    Hi Wouter,

    Thanks for clarifying and best wishes with the RCS integration! Would love to know what you hear from TA as I also posted this question in a TA Owners’ Forum, got the attention of a TA staffer, but have yet to hear back.

    Cheers!

     
  3. Wouter Blok

    Dear Kuan,

    Your assumption I can demystify: all easytobook.com customers can leave a review even without a Tripadvisor or Facebook account. In fact, they can leave it anonymously as well! This is all because bookings are verified stays.

    Towards your ‘review by dead trees’ comment, I understand that a country where the internet penetration is 38% (end 2011, source: CNNIC) uses this method. However I’ve never heard of it before. I will ask Tripadvisor to reply to your question.

    Cheers,
    Wouter.

     
  4. Kuan

    For a past client to enter their review in this manner, it appears they either have to already be a TA (or Facebook) member or register as one before submitting. Is that a correct assumption?

    On a related angle, we have numerous reviews given us on paper where additionally for a subset of customers, they’ve given us written consent to use the comments for marketing purposes.

    However, many of these customers are neither on TA nor FB. Having them submit reviews requires them to create an account, which they’re likely doing simply for our benefit as they hitherto have little use themselves for TA/FB.

    Tnooz reported that DaoDao (TA China) physically places paper review forms and comment boxes in hotel lobbies. Customers fill out the pen and paper review, drop it in the review box, it is collected by DaoDao staff, who type it up and publish the review online.

    I recognize an important element of maintaining review integrity is having an authenticated user associated with a review. However, if TA China enables alternative review submission processes, can TA.com accommodate something similar as well?

    Ideally, as part of company management, I’d like to submit a review given by a customer where I label the author by his/her initials and provide a disclosure that this was submitted by me with consent given by the author.

    Is anyone aware of any alternative to direct author submission of customer reviews on TA.com – particularly since TA China enables it?

     
  5. Tudor

    The collection feature is something that will help TA to spread further as Facebook did with their share functionality. The move only pushes further TA to become a synonym with travel review (or maybe it is already).

    The interesting thing is the costs involved to have this feature available for their partners. We have been researching this option and we have to pause it for a moment due to the high price that TA is charging.

     
  6. Wouter Blok

    Dear Sam and Oz,
    Thank you for the enthousiastic responses.
    Hold your Panda’s, we’re getting a piece of that pie. :)
    On my blog I’ve explained the 3 biggest drivers for this partnership from the OTA side: global review coverage, outsourcing the maintenance of the system and the trust the TA brand puts forward for travelers.
    We very excited and look forward to a successful partnership.
    Cheers,
    Wouter.

     
  7. Oz Har Adir

    Smart move by Easytobook.
    As for Tripadvisor:
    1) in which context does it put its many Millions non-verified reviews?
    2) Why not to learn from what Hotelscombined did with their verified reviews product and cooperate with more OTA’s on their existing reviews? Because if verified reviews are the new standard, then Tripadvisor only has a tiny portion of them, every OTA has more, and Hotelscombined have the most.
    3) Is Tripadvisor doing this because they believe that more sites would soon follow Expedia and highlight their own verified reviews over the Tripadvisor reviews?
    4) What does Tripadvisor bring to the table for OTA’s other than its brand?

     
  8. Sam Daams

    Quite a fascinating development. It’s quite obvious what TA get out of it, but what’s in it for partners? I guess (for now until it has critical mass and they can drop it) a followed link and maybe some rel=author markup. I’m guessing also access to TA’s other reviews/ratings, but they already license those all over the place, so that can hardly be worth giving up very unique content on the OTA side for…

    Will be interesting to see if other OTAs follow suit; there’s got to be something else moving from TA to the partners you’d think. Smart move by TA in any case.

     
 
 

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