With travellers' reliance on peer reviews to help them make informed decisions, TripAdvisor is the first website that springs to mind for holiday-makers wishing to get additional information about a particular destination, hotel or restaurant they want to visit.
The Internet is, in fact, the place that 61% of travellers name as their top source of inspiration, coming second only to recommendations from family, friends and colleagues (62%). These findings come from a November study from Google Think and Ipsos MediaCT and build on insights from the annual TripBarometer study carried out in early 2013, which revealed that word-of-mouth recommendations are even more powerful when made online.
Globally, travel review websites are the go-to travel resource for the majority of holiday makers, used by 69% of consumers. Next come online travel agencies, which are popular with 57% of travellers, followed by travel operator sites with 56%, and family and friends with 43%. Magazines and brochures are the primary source of inspiration for 30% of holiday makers and social media is used by 24%.
Given review sites' indisputable impact on consumer holiday choices, it's natural to think that most hotels, restaurants and attraction venues proactively use TripAdvisor to lure consumers, respond to customer queries and even push promotions. But it appears that while the number of businesses using the site is significant, just 30%-40% actually make use of their presence, a post on Social Media Today reveals. Many would probably say they have busy schedules or are already too occupied managing their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles, but this would be a rather weak excuse, especially when taking into account the 150 million reviews available on TripAdvisor provided by around 34 million active users, along with the 260 million unique users visiting the site each month. For those still unconvinced about TripAdvisor's power, here is a statistic from the site: 53% of users say they would not book a property for which there are no reviews available.
In order to make sure that your business generates as many reviews as possible, it's essential to encourage guests to share their experience on TripAdvisor, approaching them in the lobby, at check-in time, in elevators and in rooms. Internal surveys for customer satisfaction and polls through e-mails no longer work, so it's a better idea to send a customer directly to the peer review site a couple of days after their stay instead.
The quality of comments is another thing that could have a strong impact on a travel business' ranking on TripAdvisor. Quality is about the percentage of positive and negative reviews received and those getting more stars would logically earn in a higher score. And while making customers share their impressions might seem easy, choosing between satisfied and unsatisfied ones is much more difficult. The trick is not to stop unhappy customers from expressing their frustrations, while ensuring all delighted customers talk about their experience with your business to achieve a balance and offset negative comments.