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Are Hotels Unecessarily Troubled by Tripadvisor?
By Chris Clarke - Vacant Ready Host
Tuesday, 22nd April 2008
 
I am amazed that so many hoteliers still live in denial that Tripadvisor is such an incredibly important marketing tool. Last month I met the G.M. of a major branded luxury hotel who had never once clicked on his own hotel's Tripadvisor profile.

This G.M. truly believed that his upscale guests are "too savvy" to believe a bunch of "fake" user generated reviews and "ramblings from Ma and Pa in middle America. Yikes!

This G.M's attitude may have had a shared audience back in 2001, but it is rather hard to deny the importance of the site today.

Tripadvisor is pretty good at sniffing out so-called fake reviews, and for the most part, I believe that hotel guests who actually take the time to create an account and review a hotel are speaking honestly about their perceived experiences.

And millions of people actually do read these reviews and use them intelligently when making decisions about where they spend their hard-earned money.

Vicky Brock of Scotland-based Highland Business Research (HBR) wrote an interesting post recently where she looked at the user ratings of 108 local Inverness area accommodation providers reviewed on Tripadvisor.

Vicky then cross referenced these user generated scores with Scottish hotel industry quality assurance ratings for those same businesses, using other relevant data sources.

What she discovered was that Tripadvisor reviewers are not only far more generous than some hoteliers might think (the most common score is four out of five) - but fewer than 20 percent of accommodation providers are rated lower by visitors than their Scottish quality assurance rating would support.

You can check out Vicky's informal study to find out more, but in a nutshell, Vicky suggests that hotels that offer good experiences will receive good reviews.

On those occasions where a hotel property has a crappy review—Tripadvisor offers a golden opportunity to write a "management response" to those comments. But everyone knows that, right?

William Bakker of the Wilhelmus blog offers some excellent points of discussion in this regard.

William suggests that good hotel responses show empathy with the customer, and demonstrate actions to avoid these situations in the future where possible:

The best responses I've seen include invitations to make up for it (when something obviously bad happened) or new policies based on the feedback.

There is no question that service recovery can be an even stronger loyalty building exercise (on some occasions) than getting it right in the first place.

Tripadvisor offers a wealth of information for hoteliers to use in finding out how their guests perceive their product, and that of their competitors. But for heaven's sake—you have to actually visit the site before you can act on it!

Chris Clarke - Vacant Ready Host ~ Chris worked in hotel management for 10 years until he become a hotel blogging zealot while teaching hospitality management at a local college. Now he works full time developing hospitality social media.

Chris loves to find unique and entertaining angles in his hotel stories. A consummate hotel professional, he prefers to blog in his hotel robe and slippers (not stolen or course).

www.vacantready.com
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