TripAdvisor boasts 40 million monthly visitors, with almost 1 in every 4 UK holidaymakers using Tripadvisor to research their holiday before booking, the success of TripAdvisor is undeniable in terms of SEO value, word-of-mouth and trusted reviews. And the valuation of TripAdvisor at nearly $4bn is testament to its success as a social travel site, highlighting the value of social media for the travel industry. TripAdvisor is ahead of other travel sites thanks in part to their use of Facebook-connected recommendations, which help websites make sales by establishing instant trust with visitors.
On the downside, reviews can be intensely personal, and there is always an element of the risk of fake and defamatory reviews being posted by people who have not even been to the hotel, are in direct competition with the hotel, or just may have confused one accommodation with another.
Restaurant Marketing & Hotel Marketing becomes even more important…
Despite its critics, TripAdvisor is an online phenomenon; a brief look through its listings has become a holiday institution. One problem, of course, is over-saturation, as its listings continue to swell, things are becoming a little too clamorous, and trawling through 738 reviews for a single hotel is a tedious exercise. But like anything that’s mildly unregulated on the web, it’s vulnerable to sabotage and underhand marketing tactics, the skill is seeing the wood from the trees; determining the fake reviewers, identifying the defamatory remarks falsely made, and trusting the overall wisdom of crowds. Irritated hoteliers should also pay regard the golden rule of TripAdvisor: “For every 10 brilliant write-ups, there are always a couple of pooping baboons”.
Fundamental TripAdvisor’s success is a powerful long-term trend: ratings websites threaten to make many brands irrelevant.
Historically, brands were built on the premise of limited information. As mass production made it possible to sell soap and soup nationwide, companies developed brands to represent quality and cultivate product loyalty. Brands were a natural fit for radio and TV advertising, and brands thrived with the development of cable channels, which kept advertising costs down while offering unexampled demographic targeting.
With the rise of user-generated content, however, brands have faced challenges. People are talking about brands on social media sites in ways that brand managers can’t control and often can’t even detect. Facebook and Twitter get most of the attention for brand disruption, but the biggest problems for brands are in search and e-commerce.
For brand managers, it’s going to get tougher before it gets easier, but the advice is simple: Start working with your customer service department to find and fix the worst-reviewed locations or people in your company, and start building your own online recommendation and review content so that you have a say in the broader conversation. Identify happy customers and ask them to review the specific location that pleased them. You can direct them to your own internal review site, or to an collective site like TripAdvisor, but make sure you give them a direct link and emphasize that recommendations help the individual people that the customer interacted with.
Tripadvisor, has featured in the media lately and is the object of discontentment amongst hoteliers, B&B owners, and the hospitality market in general.
Such a stipulation has helped to make eBay the success it is – you can only comment on a provider with whom you have done business. And, crucially, the seller can also leave feedback about the behaviour of the purchaser. Similarly, Apple only permits people to post a review of an app if they have bought that app.
TripAdvisor said that travellers would miss out on valuable customer service experiences, such as when a friend or family member pays for the room, or when a visit does not involve an overnight stay.
Simply making people register their details would be a start, but it would undoubtedly lead to a sharp fall in TripAdvisor’s user numbers and its revenue, so it is unlikely to be countenanced.
In the meantime, the hotel trade is waiting to see whether there will be an explosion of court cases and litigation. Can we trust TripAdvisor? The jury’s out.” ……………………. Charles Starmer-Smith
The overall consensus is that Tripadvisor can be a useful Hospitality Marketing tool, but customers need to be fully aware that not all reports and reviews listed can be taken as the truth.