Making TripAdvisor Work for Your Hospitality Business
16th November 2016 | Marketing & Sales
In the age of consumer generated content, TripAdvisor is a model example of how people power has transformed the marketing landscape.
As travel agents and glossy brochures have been replaced by direct online bookings and peer reviews, word-of-mouth marketing has taken centre stage in the tourism industry. What customers say and share online is now seen as a key factor to building brand awareness.
Since its launch in 2000, TripAdvisor has helped to revolutionise not only how consumers plan and book trips, but also the way businesses in the hospitality sector interact and engage with customers. With more than 3.7 million listings and over 350 million monthly visitors, managing presence on the world’s biggest travel website has become top priority for hotels, resorts, restaurants, attractions and trip organisers alike.
The holy grail is gaining positive customer reviews, and not only because of the high levels of trust consumers place in the opinions of their peers. TripAdvisor also uses average review ratings to sort rankings on its internal search engine, so the better your reviews, the more visible you are to other prospective customers.
While business owners can feel like they have little control over their own profile in this system, in truth those operators who are prepared to embrace and engage with it reap rich rewards. The key benefits of TripAdvisor to businesses include:
- Free word-of-mouth recommendations which attract high levels of consumer trust,
- Excellent inbound links to drive organic traffic to your own website, and
- Continuous customer feedback available to help improve your business.
Here are some key tips for making the most out of your TripAdvisor profile.
Claim your Listing
As soon as a business is mentioned on TripAdvisor, for example in a review, that business is listed on the site.
As a business owner, it is important to take control of that listing, to make sure any information about you is correct, and also to provide a platform from which you can manage your presence on the site. To do this, you have to first join the site, and then search to see if your business is listed. If it is, you can use the Owner’s: What’s Your Side of the Story option, and from there Manage Your Listing to go to the Management Centre.
Once you have claimed your listing, keep it up to date with full contact details, opening hours, other relevant information, and carefully chosen photographs. This will keep it looking fresh and appealing, and an attractive profile photo will give your listing that extra attention grabbing potential.
Engage with Customers
One of the most powerful tools TripAdvisor gives to business owners is a platform to engage directly with customers.
Reviews are written by people who have already visited you, but they are read by many more potential customers. If you receive a particularly positive review, post a comment to thank the author and say you hope they will come again – a good way to encourage repeat business.
Similarly, if you get a dreaded negative review, post a comment apologising for the fact that the writer’s experience was not up to scratch, and assure them you are taking steps to make sure it will not be repeated. This proactive response will impress other potential customers and mitigate against the negative review.
In no circumstances challenge a negative review – it looks unprofessional, turns off other customers, and you simply won’t win. Be gracious and simply own the fact that someone didn’t enjoy their experience with your business, regardless of the circumstances.
To help decide what to write in your responses, find and read other reviews for similar businesses to yours. Consider businesses out of your local area and not your direct competitors as you should be objective and not potentially clouded with personal opinion.
Use Reviews as Constructive Feedback
TripAdvisor reviews, good and bad, give you invaluable customer feedback on your business.
If you do get a negative review, take steps to address the concerns raised – you might not be able to do anything about that review, but you can prevent more cropping up for the same reasons. Be open-minded and try and see the situation through your customers’ eyes.
In the same way, use positive feedback as a means to be proactive about improving your business. If one customer had such a great experience, how can you ensure every visitor enjoys the same?
Set up Links to Your Website and Social Media Pages
TripAdvisor is a great way to drive traffic to your own website, and as such a trusted brand in the travel industry, advertising your listing on your own website and on your social media pages helps to build the reputation of your brand.
Include your own web site URL in your listing, and use the Free Marketing Tools options in your TripAdvisor Management Centre dashboard to view options for creating links on your own sites and social profiles. These options include displaying review snippets, your average rating and the number of customers who have left reviews, all helpful for building trust in your brand.
TripAdvisor is an excellent, well-established, and free resource for hospitality and tourism businesses. If you approach it positively and manage it actively, it can be a boon for your business.