TripAdvisor - Trick or Treat?
By Gina Paladini on
Part III in our Halloween 2015 blog series.
As the world’s number-one tourism website, TripAdvisor is an audacious and powerful beast. For travellers sharing a review or researching a trip, it works a treat. For tourism operators it can prove a powerful marketing and distribution tool. But for all of these treats, this powerful beast can serve up a trick or two.
Since anyone can post a review on TripAdvisor, it can create some scary situations for a tourism operator. Travellers threatening a negative review as an attempt to get a discount, competitors purchasing fake reviews to boost their rankings, or a sinister traveller who is simply miserable about life and uses the platform to constantly complain.
Some operators believe fake or venomous reviews are too frightening to get involved, but travellers are now savvy enough to identify that reviews are about the bigger picture. They look at the overall results of all of the reviews; e.g. are the majority of comments positive? Are there mentions of a good view or attentive customer service?
TripAdvisor has also picked up their game, culling fake or bought reviews to maintain the high quality of the site. Although there may be some fake reviews amongst the 60 million, the majority are legitimate. A traveller can always add TripAdvisor to their Facebook account and see reviews specifically from their friends and family, so the authenticity and transparency is undeniable.
Travellers posting venomous critiques are in fact a golden opportunity to turn the sentiment around. Operators can create brand ambassadors and provide a response that shines on the operator/property’s integrity. Seventy-seven percent of TripAdvisor users said that seeing a business’ response to a review makes them believe that the business cares. It’s the prompt, courteous and professional response that matters.
Business Listings for Accommodation
TripAdvisor gave property managers a recent scare when they changed the revenue model for Business Listings, charging an annual flat fee based on estimated page views and potential return on investment. This rising cost of a business listing has frightened many accommodation businesses into abandoning TripAdvisor.
The recently released Instant Booking functionality at first looks like to help properties combat the Online Travel Agent (OTA) domination, but a second look can show a darker side to this new feature.
Instant Booking allows the property to “own” the relationship with the customer, adding the booking directly to their reservation management system. TripAdvisor does earn a 13% commission along the way, but that commission isn’t the scariest part – it’s the fact that an OTA can also have their ‘book now’ functionality competing there.
Just like Google, TripAdvisor can make or a break a business. Since the addition of metasearch in 2013, integration with Facebook, the purchase of Viator and the recent addition of Instant Booking, there is no question that TripAdvisor is growing more powerful. But as big and scary as TripAdvisor may feel to some, once mastered they can be used to build reach, engage with customers and increase bookings.