There is a lot of speculation going around the hotel industry on how they should interact with TripAdvisor. Since this site is so important for hospitality & travel marketing, I went right to the source to clarify a few things.
Here is my conversation with TripAdvisor Vice President Michele Perry.
Josiah: If a hotel has a poor reputation on TripAdvisor, what steps should they take to improve it?
Michele: When a hotel has a poor ranking on TripAdvisor, it usually reflects problems with the property — grounds, staffing, cleanliness, service, or something else. The most important step hoteliers can take is to read the feedback they’ve received on TripAdvisor, and take the necessary steps to improve problem areas.
If a new owner has just taken over a property with a poor reputation, they can go to their owners’ page and fill out the change of ownership form with details of the nature of the ownership change, along with documentation that the change occurred, and we can remove reviews from the prior owner’s tenure.
Let’s be honest: as hotel marketing professionals it’s often our job to increase ranking on your site. What are some ethical ways we can do this – that you approve of?
TripAdvisor popularity index rankings are significantly impacted by the quantity of reviews, quality of reviews, and how recent those reviews are. You can’t approach improving TripAdvisor ranking as you might search engine optimization, where you can purchase keywords and impact your listings. The most important thing a hotelier can do is provide a good experience for their guests.
From a marketing professional’s perspective, you can educate guests about TripAdvisor and encourage them to write reviews of their stay. The more recent reviews you can help generate for your client, the better their ranking will be (assuming they are running a solid business).
On every hotel’s owners’ page we provide links that can be added to post-stay guest emails so that hoteliers can ask their recent guests to submit a review – the link makes it easy for the guest to get started. Also on the owners’ pages are new “write-a-review widgets” that can be added to a hotel’s website in minutes, so that visitors can write a review without searching TripAdvisor for the right page.
Are there any specifics you want us to avoid?
While we encourage you to encourage guests to write reviews, any sort of incentive – a free night, a coupon off the next stay, a discounted meal, etc. – is strictly against our rules.
And, of course, reviews need to be the honest, unbiased opinions of real travelers who have had an experience with your property.
Do you have any recommendations for integrating TripAdvisor into our website and marketing materials?
We strongly encourage property owners to register at www.tripadvisor.com/owners, and to learn about all available monitoring, management and marketing tools. We have a variety of customizable widgets that allow properties to display current review data on their websites, and we also offer “recommended on TripAdvisor” badges for your site. Research consistently shows that consumers trust other consumers, so adding TripAdvisor content to your property’s web site through our products gives your customers the review information they want. More than 5,000 hotels worldwide have done this and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Registering as an owner also puts properties on our newsletter list, which means they’ll receive first notification of new metrics and tools.
What day-to-day actions should hotel management take to ensure their hotel has a great presence on your site?
First and foremost, take good care of your property and guests. Check TripAdvisor everyday for new reviews and use the feedback to make appropriate adjustments. Owners can sign up for daily emails of new reviews so that they can stay current easily, and respond to reviews quickly.
Properties have the option to upload a photo, and as many videos as they like. We encourage owners to take advantage of this, and to keep their listing up-to-date.
How should management respond to reviews? Select ones: negative or positive feedback? Ignore them all?
We encourage hoteliers to address negative reviews with a management response on our site; we often hear that how a property reacts to the criticism is more important to prospective guests than the negative comments themselves. Some hoteliers choose to respond to positive reviews, also. We consider this less essential, but it certainly gives travelers an even better sense of who you as a hotelier and your property are.