For small businesses in the hospitality industry, TripAdvisor is often seen as the be-all and end-all of consumer opinion. With over 535 million reviews, an average of 415 million unique monthly visitors, and 7 million businesses (restaurants, hotels, attractions), it’s no wonder that’s the case.
Your presence on TripAdvisor can be a great boon to your bottom line, but it’s not all sunshine and dollar signs. As with any rating system, mistakes both on and offline can lead to dismal reviews, which can, in turn, impact your revenue.
While you can’t control every disappointed customer or angry review, you can take the proper steps to mitigate that risk and keep your ratings as high as possible. Here are mistakes you need to avoid if you want to make the most out of your TripAdvisor presence.
1. Not Responding to Reviews
Online reviews can be a huge boost to your brand; some of them may even be worthy of a spot on your website, but they can also downright brutal. Regardless of the review, if a recent customer took the time to post something, you or a qualified member of your team should respond. And that’s true for both positive and negative reviews.
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Why? According to a Cornell University study on the impact social engagement has on hotel performance, “[r]esponding to reviews, particularly negative reviews, appears positively related to the consumer’s view of the hotel, as measured by increases in the TripAdvisor score.”
While your overall score will play a role in how your brand is perceived, your responses will help overcome some of the dips you may experience.
Of course, that’s not to say that any response is a good response. Avoid using obviously canned responses or being confrontational. Both of these attempts can backfire and cause even more problems.
2. Using Stale or Outdated Photos and Info
According to a recent TripAdvisor study, photos were ranked number one in a list of factors that positively contribute to traveler engagement; they also lead to increased bookings.
Why? A picture is worth a thousand words. Considering the photo-driven nature of our social engagement (Instagram, Snapchat, etc), this shouldn’t be surprising, particularly in the hospitality world. Pictures help consumers imagine themselves staying in your hotel, eating your food, or enjoying your destination. For example, would you rather read about a “spacious guest room” or see pictures of the guest room? It’s likely, if you’re going to book a room, you want to see the guest room
However, simply having photos isn’t enough. Images of your business should be up-to-date and appear to be professional in quality. Not only are consumers likely to visit your business based on photos, but they also expect your establishment to live up to the expectations set by those photos. Don’t set yourself up for bad reviews by using images your guests are not likely to see once they arrive.
3. Ignoring the Competition
Constantly checking in on your competition can drive you crazy, but that doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye. In fact, the occasional visit to a competitor’s TripAdvisor page can provide useful feedback on the needs and wants of potential guests.
Are potential guests raving about a specific product or service they couldn’t find anywhere else? Were several guests complaining about a service or offering that was subpar or nonexistent?
This type of feedback can help you identify gaps in your offerings, and it can also provide insight into competition’s shortcomings and ways you can capitalize on them. Take for example a boutique hotel that had excellent accommodations, but several guests complained about a lack of family entertainment options. If their needs align with your capabilities, you can capitalize on the need and appeal to a whole new demographic.
4. Not Having a Management Plan
TripAdvisor is a community, and as such, the businesses involved are expected to hold up their end of the bargain. It’s not typically an extensive amount of work (keep information up-to-date and respond to reviews), but if your page is active, you may find that keeping up with it is cumbersome.
If you’ve claimed your page, it’s your responsibility to provide the correct information and respond to guests. To make sure things don’t go unnoticed or information and photos become stale, consider putting together a schedule that will dictate a time to log in and respond, determine how often you’ll review information and photos for accuracy, and identify an individual who can take ownership of those tasks.
Love it or hate, TripAdvisor remains a relevant and widely-used resource for consumers traveling near and far. Avoiding common mistakes and taking a proactive approach to your page can help you keep your scores up and business booming.
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