Most small hotels have a mixed reaction to this platform, particuarly if having had a bad review appear from out of the blue. The bottom line is some 70%* of people will check you out on Trip Advisor before making a booking. So this post covers some basic Trip Advisor Hotel Marketing strategies, to give you an edge.
(*can’t remember the source! Feel free to email me if you know where it’s from)
If you haven’t already, take ownership of your page on Trip Advisor today. This will then email alert you every time there is a new review, you can upload a few owners pics, write a description of your amenities, and importantly respond to comments.
To take ownership, on your hotel’s Trip Advisor page scroll down to the “Owner’s what’s your side of the story?” and click on the “manage this page” link. You will then be prompted to verify you own/manage the hotel, you will then be asked to register a Trip Advisor users account, and then either verify ownership by connecting your Facebook account (if it’s deemed acceptable), or put your credit card (that is registered at the address) in (no amount is debited).
Okay so now…
Did I say add photos? Add photos, add photos, add photos and add photos. The old adage a picture tells a 1,000 words is true here.
So depending on your size, you ideally want at least a review within last 3 months, or last 4 weeks if a larger premises. This means potential guests can relate to how you are now. Currency matters.
- Consider getting “enjoyed your stay at XYZ Hotel? Say so on Trip Advisor” business cards printed that you can you can hand out with room payment receipts.
- Make it part of your reception workflow to write a “thanks for staying email”, and in it put something like “We truly value your input. So if you enjoyed your stay, why not say so on Trip Advisor?” and insert the link directly in the email. As the guest will be at a computer when they read it, the leap to writing a review is not that hard. If you have booking software, this email can usually can be automated.
Respond to positive not just negative reviews
If you respond to positive reviews this makes you look engaged, friendly and encourages more comments, as people love having their ego massaged. Try and respond to as many positive reviews as possible!
Here’s a great example of a management response to a positive review, where they’ve shown they remember the guests personally, and not just said “thanks for your review”:
So! If you’ve done the occasional management response to positive reviews, it wont look out of place when you do have to respond to a negative review. A management response amplifies a review positive or negative.
How to deal with a negative Trip Advisor review
You’ve put a lot of effort and passion into your hotel, and to have that one review, perhaps on the one day of the year their was a one off torrential storm, that complains about leaks, it hurts! There’s no getting away from it. Take a pause, breathe, write an angry email to yourself about how much of a stoopid guest they were. bin it. Then, get on to actually writing a real response.
This article here has a great strategy tips on the actual response. But suffice it to say, you should thank them for their input, be concise in answering each point they raise, not be aggressive, and close with how you’ve offered to recompense them or closed the issue.
Without a shadow of a doubt you want “banker”, friend guests that have perhaps stayed several times in the past, that, if directly asked, would write a review on demand. You don’t want the first review at the top of your Trip Advisor page to be negative.
Use Trip Advisor rating & quotes on your website
To save people the hassle of even visiting Trip Advisor, you could add a Trip Advisor ranking graphic on your website. These are available from the owners console in the marketing section. Or see here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/WidgetEmbed. Some hotels prefer to divorce the graphic from actually linking to Trip Advisor, as this keeps visitors on their website and from being sidetracked on Trip Advisor to competitors.
Then pepper your website with guest testimonials, to show “social proof”. nb I think it’s against Trip Advisors T&C to use “their” reviews on your site, so perhaps just use ones from your actual guest book, with consent of course.
Elevate the importance of guest feedback at your weekly team meetings
This is a bit of an obvious one in a customer centred business. But I have to say it; there will be genuine issues that are raised on Trip Advisor! Listen, and ask staff for feedback, get to the heart of the issue; Why was there no guest parking available on Monday? Why did that guest have bad experience in your breakfast room?
Don’t immediately assume that having negative feedback is bad. Transparency, is at the heart of the shift in the way business is done in this Internet and Facebook age.
Your ranking in your area, or city
Trip Advisor is a platform. A proportion of people use this to search, browse and to check out hotels on as a a starting point. Lets face it, it’s designed with the traveller in mind, whereas Google originally wasn’t.
An interesting aside on this:
“If a hotel increases its review scores by 1 point on a 5-point scale, then the hotel can increase its price by 11.2 percent and still maintain the same occupancy or market share”
The point is if you encourage reviews and make them a focus of your business, then you can charge more proportionately for your rooms, and be more profitable.
The higher you are up your city ranking, the better. Note, recent reviews have more weight that aged reviews, so work on your current impression.
Be aware of how Trip Advisor is stitched up with the big boys
Okay, I’ve show you how to deal with what is out there on your basic Trip Advisor presence. But! I probably don’t need to tell you to be mindful as a hotel that you don’t count for much. If Trip Advisor cared about hotels they’d allow you to put at least one of your contact details on your page, right! Trip Advisor favours both the big online travel agencies like Booking.com/LateRooms.com and the community of reviewers, over you and your hotel.
Over time they may re-address this balance and realise they actually need hotels on side, and do things like respond to your requests to remove to falsified/libelous reviews, and reduce the price of its business listing (see below). However, for now, look at all the opportunities within your page there are for someone to either click off, or book you via a 3rd party earning their commission.
Consider a Trip Advisor business listing
A business listing can help you take ownership of more real estate on your Trip Advisor page. It will give you: 1) a link to your website 2) a link to your own deals 3) your telephone num 4) a photo link to your own booking engine 5) an announcement block. See here: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/BusinessListings
Most of the premises that I’ve helped get set-up with this, have not had an amazing value experience. As, it’s not cheap. A 5 bedroom rural B&B may get a quote for £290 per year, and a 300 bedroom place may get a quote for £9,000 a year. Are they having a laugh? (answer below).
But first note, the above hotel is not using its announcement block! After paying all that! They should make up an announcement “new concierge service”, “free chocolates for early arriving guests” – whatever, to take more of your paid for real estate back to you. So if you do a business listing, you must use both the offers and the announcements tool.
Also hotels that have paid for a business listing get a slight advantage in searches on Trip Advisor by location, with their “deal” being displayed on the search results in Trip Advisor.
So, are they having a laugh? Yes, they are having a laugh. We are in a depression/ recession /whatever you call it. If you ring them up, and say you are not sure about a business listing, but really want to try this “fantastic” service, you can usually get a 3 month 50% off trial.
If you do this trial you need to ensure you have the stats from your web designer and ideally booking engine. As basic stats in Google Analytics you would want to check the quality (time on site, pages per referrer) of visits from Trip Advisor. Ideally, you will have goal completion tracking set up on your booking engine (that’s a whole post in itself).
Then you can assess if its worth paying for.
There is another Trip Advisor premium option Pay-Per-Click search, where you can add your online booking system as one of the search tools on your Trip Advisor page, alongside Booking.com etc. This costs from 20p a click. We’ve found it costs nearer 60p a search. But that’s a discussion for another day. Again, if you have the analytics, or booking engine tracking tools, it’s worth testing.