MythBusting at TripAdvisor? Four of the top concerns tackled

NB: This is a guest article by April Robb, senior manager of content at TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor, as everyone knows, is a community where travelers can voice their opinions and share their experiences – but its size and influence sometimes creates uncertainty.

The site, equally importantly, is also an resource for travel businesses of all sizes to engage with travelers and promote their services.

While a lot of feedback and discussions occur on the site, TripAdvisor itself also generates discussion, and occasionally, some misconceptions emerge.

The following list details some of the more common myths about TripAdvisor, and the facts:

Myth 1: Reviews on TripAdvisor are usually negative.

In fact, the majority of reviews on the site are positive. Three-quarters of all TripAdvisor reviews are rated “very good” or “excellent”, and the average rating on TripAdvisor is just over four out of a possible five.

It’s also important to note that – according to this traveler survey – the number one reason travelers cite for writing a hotel review is to “share a good experience with other travelers”.

Myth 2: I have no control over my property’s listing on TripAdvisor.

Through the Management Center, you can immediately begin taking control of your business’ page — including adding a property description, photos, videos and more.

We also encourage you to monitor what travelers are saying about you on the site, post management responses and keep track of where your visitors are coming from so that you can tailor your marketing approach accordingly.

Myth 3: Businesses can’t share their side of the story on TripAdvisor.

Just as we value traveler options, we value the insights of business owners — and strongly encourage you to post responses reviews about your property.

These responses not only show guests and the TripAdvisor community that you take their feedback seriously, but also give you the last word.

When an owner responds promptly and professionally to both positive and negative reviews – thanking reviewers for kind words or addressing any specific concerns – a management response can be very effective.

In fact, research shows that management responses to good reviews makes 78% of survey respondents think more highly of the property, while management responses to bad reviews reassure 79% of travelers.

Myth 4: It’s against TripAdvisor rules to ask guests to write a review.

While it’s against TripAdvisor rules to offer incentives in exchange for reviews, we strongly encourage you to ask your guests to write a review. We offer tools that you can use to encourage guests to write reviews following their stay.

These include links that you can add to an email, which will send guests directly to your property page on TripAdvisor; cards and flyers that you can print and hand out to guests; and widgets that you can embed in your own website to remind travelers to write reviews.

NB: This is a guest article by April Robb, senior manager of content at TripAdvisor.

NB2: Top hat magic image via Shutterstock.

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Viewpoints

About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.

 

Comments

  1. Arjen Schroevers

    Although we have only good reviews on Tripadvisor, we have very bad experiences with contacting them. There is no way to contact TA on a “normal” way, you must use forms what does not give space to write what you need to write.

    In the past TA brought us 15 visitors a week.Suddenly TA decided to “correct” our address.Since then TA brings us 0 visitors. TA refuses to correct our address, because “their system can not write our addrss in the way it should be written” (time to change your system??)

    TS locates us in Kanchanadit, what belongs to Surat-Thani (Thailand) but they can not write Surat-Thani.

    It is like having a pizzeria in Harlem, New York, but skip the word New York in the address. Bad thing is that there is an other monkey school in Kanchanadit, what uses nearly our name, and people go to that place, instead of going to our place.

    But things are stranger. If you search on TA for things to do in Surat-Thani, you are pointed to places on the is;lands, and in Khao Sok, what is far away from the city, and does not belong to the city from Surat-Thani. Some places do show on the map from Surat-Thani provided by TA, but are not in the city at all (like “inner tubing”)

    And more strange, when you use the mobile application from TA,and you open it while you are at the Monkeyschool, the mobile app. from TA locates you in Surat-Thani (so not Kanchanadit) If you ask for “things to do” close to your location, the Monkeyschool does not show up, while other faraway things (up to 120km, like Khao Sok NP) do show up. When you “help” the app, by searching for monkeyschool close to you,you are directsd to the monkeyschool in Phuket (240km away, and even the monkeyschool in ChiangMai, 1.400km away)

    Because the lack of visitors at the monkey school they have closed for public since January 2013, Although this is reported many times to TA, they also refuse to correct this on their website.

    Tripadvisor is able to ruin a business, and even after they ruined a business they refuse to provide the correct information.

    The reply from TA is always “to provide the right information to our visitors” but thhey give the wrong information. The people who manage to find us write a positive review. The most people are not able to find us.

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g2237711-d1078515-Reviews-Monkey_Training_College-Kanchanadit_Surat_Thani_Province.html

     
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  4. April Robb

    We’re happy to see that this article is generating a lot of interesting discussion. We’re also pleased that our efforts to improve customer service, including making phone support available to our community, are paying off, and to hear you’ve found us more responsive and helpful.

    I will address some of the main questions raised here:

    1.) Regarding the value of Business Listings, I would invite you to read the Forrester Consulting economic impact case studies found on our blog: http://tripadvisor4biz.wordpress.com/blcasestudy/. Sabre Hospitality Solutions reported an average of $6 in incremental bookings for every dollar spent for 154 diverse properties (with some hotels seeing as much as $20), and The Varden Hotel reported $50 in incremental bookings for every dollar spent. The major benefit of Business Listings is that it enables hotels to add their direct contact information and deals to their TripAdvisor property pages, making it easier for travelers to reach them. As for cost, we offer monthly and annual pricing tiered according to property size and location.

    2.) On the question about review verification: ultimately, we believe all travelers, not just the one individual who made the reservation or has the receipt, are entitled to share their honest feedback about their experience. The average traveler reads dozens of reviews before booking, allowing them to get the complete picture of a property and make an educated decision based on the opinions of many. We strongly encourage properties to use the management response option to respond to traveler reviews on the site and share their perspective. A management response gives business owners the last word in the conversation.

    3.) As noted in the article, we encourage hoteliers and other business owners to ask for reviews as long as they do not offer incentives, which are against our policies. Any hotel chain is welcome to work with us on review collection. In the case of Accor, they are sending post-stay emails to everyone who booked on Accorhotels.com, inviting them to write a review on a review form powered by TripAdvisor. These reviews are moderated by TripAdvisor in the same way as any other reviews, and the reviews are then attributed to Accorhotels.com on our site. Other chains are doing the same, including Best Western France (http://www.tripadvisor.fr/ShowUserReviews-g196587-d258630-r133693560), NH Hotels (http://www.tripadvisor.es/ShowUserReviews-g187514-d338304-r133623540) or La Quinta (http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g44926-d596408-r124263121).

    4.) TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winners are based on the millions of reviews and opinions from travelers around the world, including ratings for specific categories like Bargain, Luxury, Trendiest, and more. More recent reviews and opinions are given more weight, but past reviews and opinions are also measured. We have a unique algorithm for each Travelers’ Choice awards category. These algorithms are proprietary, but take into account factors including quality, quantity and recency of traveler reviews and opinions and ratings specific to each award category.

    I hope this helps. Thanks again for your great questions.

    Best regards,
    April Robb
    TripAdvisor

     
    • Michael Kaye

      Thanks, April. The criteria for “Traveler’s Choice” sound a awful lot like the criteria for the rankings. What is the difference?

       
  5. Peggy Lee

    I created a TripAdvisor review last year, detailed the experience that I had with a hotel in St. Andrews, Scotland (a horror story) and with Booking.com (another horror story) and it was not published by TripAdvisor because a 3rd party was part of the review. If hotels also 3rd parties to distribute and represent them, why doesn’t the consumer have the right to share that with other consumers on TripAdvisor? I was told that it would not be posted because of the reference to booking.com, which was a big part of what created the problem and their lack of customer support when the MacDonald Russack House attempted to charge me an incredibly HUGE amount for cancellation, even though I agreed to send my family over to the hotel for 4 or the originally booked 5 nights (which by the way, were booked at a 6pm check in rate and were not cancelled with the other booking.com reservations 45 minutes before I went into major surgery because they were not included in “my account” since the subject booking was my 1st booking.com transaction. Apparently, the first reservation you make with booking.com does not get included in your profile once you create it–a major programming glitch as far as I am concerned).

    Please tell me why my review was not posted? I think this is bad for the consumer and certainly lacks transparency because if I had just nailed the hotel in the review, it would have been posted. Further, TA could have simply told me to take the booking.com name out and reference “a 3rd party booking site”, but instead they refused to post it. Smells of economic criteria to me.

     
  6. Ashwin Kamlani

    I think TripAdvisor is an amazing tool for hotels when used correctly. Especially for smaller or independent hotels, TripAdvisor can give them the power to compete with (and even beat) the larger more expensive, or even chain, branded hotels. I do have one concern about TripAdvisor though and I’m amazed that I have never seen anyone comment about this because I have seen it so many times. I think too many customers do not understand the rating system. They quite often think that the main rating should be equal to how many stars the hotel is rather than how well they have met or exceeded expectations. In other words, a customer might stay at a solid 3 star property and love everything. I have seen customers leave glowing reviews and give them 5 out of 5 on all of the individual ratings, but then on the main rating they give them 3 out of 5 because they don’t understand that a 3 star property should earn 5 out of 5 if they are doing a great job.

     
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  9. Michael Kaye

    Another misconception about Trip Advisor is that they are very hard to talk to. That used to be the case, but no longer. I was surprised to get an email from my account executive with his phone number. I’ve called him twice. He answers the phone and is helpful.

    This represents a new responsiveness from Trip Advisor. Now it is up to Ms. Robb to keep up the good work, by responding to the concerns in the comments above—to which I will add one more. I’ve noticed a number of occasions where the number one property in an area is not a “Trip Advisor’s Choice” but a lower ranked property in the same category and area is a “Trip Advisors Choice” What are the criteria for naming a property “Trip Advisor’s Choice?”

     
  10. Dean Schmit

    I have to defend TripAdvisor on the question of unverified reviews.

    First, keep in mind that they are NOT the only site in this category. Same can be said for Yelp, Google+, Igougo, Yahoo Travel, and many others. TripAdvisor just happens to be the one everybody talks about.

    Second, keep in mind that even a “verified” review is subject to error. If I book a trip where I am staying at an airport hotel and then a resort hotel, and accidentally attach the wrong review to the hotel, nobody is going to catch this unless they are paying attention.

    Finally, what’s the difference between the hotels in the top 10 vs. the bottom ten in most markets? They all have to deal with the same aspects of fraudulent reviews, disgruntled employees, renovations, and things of that nature. The difference is those in the top 10 are paying attention, and often deal with the issue before it ever gets to a site such as TripAdvisor.

    Best advice for any hotel — Pay attention to what the top-10 are doing, not the bottom 10, and monitor your content. The latter can be made easier by using a TripAdvisor approved monitoring tool such as ReviewAnalyst. Yes, I work for them, but I am very serious when I say that if you’re not using mine, you should be using one of my competitors, it IS that important.

     
  11. Colinsito

    It would be great if one day they had peer-to-peer reviews like AirBnB TA only allows hotel owners to tell a very small part of the story.

     
  12. richard chanter

    Our chief concern at the moment is the classification of B&B’s. The number one rated ‘B&B’ on our area is in fact a lodge on the river several kilometers out of the city.
    Why would this establishment not be rated against other lodges on the banks of the river (of which there are many) as opposed to B&B’s situated in the city centre?
    It is also difficult to see how the quantity of good reviews is taken into account in the rating system as opposed merely to quality.
    TripAdvisor are also much slower at posting management responses than they are to post reviews. Unfair.

     
  13. Frank

    with all due respect these are not the top 4 concerns about Tripadvisor.
    here is are some I think more worrying for a hotel
    1. you do not validate the reviews (unlike Expedia) meaning some hotels if they choose to run the risk can boost their ranking though fake reviews and move ahead of others. This leads to abuse of the rnaking system
    2. you allow selected third parties special advantages eg allow Accor to turn Accor reviews into tripAdvisor reviews. This leads to abuse of the ranking system.
    3. you deem an ‘experience” to be a valid review ie so long as the reviewer just reviews the experience they had, you allow it. ie they do not need to stay at the hotel and can just review the early contact. This leads to abuse of the ranking system (both positively and negatively)

    To my mind if Tripadvisor had not got the jump on other review systems and become the dominant player and so vital to a hotels prospects it would laughed out of the industry. But you are the King and like the elephant in the room everyone is too scared to talk about you.

     
  14. Adele Gutman

    Great article! Also, the number one best thing you can do as a hotelier is to actually listen to your guests and adapt your service to be the kind of hotel that inspires travelers to write great reviews. Speaking for our four hotels, we all get a return on our Business listing investment in a matter of days. I hope we do not move to a CPA because we get so much traffic, it might be cost prohibitive.

     
  15. Patrick Landman

    Patrick Landman

    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for clearing that up.

    We have tried to use the enhaced hotel profile for hotels, but the monthly cost is too high and does not generate a sufficient ROI, not even with an exclusive discount.

    Talking to various large advertising and marketing agencies specialized in our industry, they confirm the same.

    I am wondering, if TripAdviser is convinced these enhanced property listing add value to hotels, why you would not be willing to work on a CPA basis.

    Same goes for the rate display option.

    All marketing platforms should only be charging if they truly bring business to its clients. CPA, cost per acquisitiin, is a perfect model to show to hotels how sure you are of your advertising model.

    I would expect TripAdvisor to be an innovator and industry leader in this as well.

    We all look forwwrd to your feedback.

    Cheers,

    Patrick @ Xotels

     
    • Steve

      @Patrick-Why would Trip Advisor do that? They can earn it due to their size and scope on a CPM basis. why should they not pursue that revenue model? Do you really think they should lower their financial return to their shareholders because, in your words, “how sure you are of your advertising model”? Your theory only addresses the “last Click” rule which is not how travel is advertised/purchased. What about influence on the consumer? At the end of the day, that is what Trip Advisor is really doing, providing consumer influence. CPA is not a fair measure of this as it only addresses the last click and that is not a true measure of advertising effectiveness.

       
      • Tom

        Steve

        So your response is that TripAdvisor does it because it can – value to advertiser be damned? That’s a rather strange value proposition for an advertiser and by that logic, everyone should simply put all their dollars on Google and be done with it.

        I would also like to address some other innacuracies in your post:

        – The CPM model is used by TripAdvisor for it’s banner advertising, not for the listings service.
        – The marketing objective for a Banner Ad is branding reach, recall and engagement. Hence the size off the ad is larger, the impact of the media is more visual in nature.
        – A Listing Ad per se is sold as a direct response tactic. It SHOULD be measured as all other DR placements are measured, either on a last click attribution basis or yes, more evolved ways of tracking an array of clicks and measureing highest to lowest frequency on the path to a booking.
        – Tripadvisor itself does not market Business Listings as a brand play – perhaps because they realize that hotels will say to them what GM already said to Facebook – move along now, we will put our ad dollars elsewhere.

         
 
 

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