Some practical advice to hoteliers on how to make TridAdvisor work for rather than against you -
The internet offers more information to consumers researching hotels than was ever previously envisaged. More and more of this content is Consumer Generated Content (CGC) or User Generated Content (UGC), images, reviews, video, sound, etc.
Because of the explosion in CGC / UGC content it is more and more important hoteliers monitor their brand online and respond accordingly. You might not be monitoring TripAdvisor but over 24 million consumers are each month!
Within the travel sector, TripAdvisor has emerged as the consumer champion but Hoteliers are critical and often outraged by the influence of TripAdvisor. Hotelier's main concern appears to be competitors or disgruntled employees writing bogus reviews, but the reality is these bogus reviews are the minority.
TripAdvisor is also now showing users previous reviews by the same reviewer, making it easier to gauge real reviews and fake ones. The company is also working on its algorithm which like Google and other search engines is a secret. It would be reasonable to assume however that more weight is given to a review from a TripAdvisor user who has been registered for a number of years and posted numerous times.
TripAdvisor is here to stay and hoteliers need to engage with the site and work the system. Occupancy Marketing, a UK based Internet Marketing Company specialising in the hotel sector, advises clients to work with other than against TripAdvisor. Images and factual information can be uploaded on your hotel, check your current images and descriptions and upload new content if required.
Our clients are advised to respond, via a "management response" to any reviews that require clarification, correcting or indeed complimenting a reviewer. Aside from giving your side of the story, it will instil confidence to potential guests that you care enough to monitor what customers say about you. Rufflets Country House Hotel and City Inn are two good examples of this, if a review requires a response, a well crafted management response is provided.
Many hoteliers try to cheat the system and write their own reviews. It's not surprising this activity goes on; being in the top three hotels by rating in your area can mean big business. TripdAdvisor has measures in place to detect this activity and we would advise against it.
Hoteliers can however influence their ratings. One way to do this is advise TripAdvisor of any missing articles or reviews on your hotel. These reviews can help with your ranking and if you have a good review from say, Frommers, advise TripAdvisor of this.
It is also possible to increase your ranking by asking customers to write a review. If you have just been complemented on being the best hotel in your area by a guest at check out, it's perfectly reasonable to ask them to express their opinion on TripAdvisor.
Resentment to TripAdvisor in the industry is easy to understand, internet users previously only had the hotels flowery copy to make buying decisions. We have also heard evidence of hotel guests threatening hotels with a bad review unless an upgrade is offered or their concern addressed. The system is not perfect and we would like to see some verification of a guest stay, if the date of arrival and departure was included in the review but not necessarily shown online, it would provide some comfort to hoteliers.
The reality is TripAdvisor is here to stay, do your best to make it work for you.About the Author :
Mark Forrester is the founder and Managing Director of Occupancy Marketing, an Internet Marketing services company focussed on the hotel and tourism sector. The company specialises in driving direct, non commissionable bookings via the World Wide Web. www.occupancymarketing.com