Monday 4 May 2015

TripAdvisor's Review Express - an update (and a cautionary tale)

TripAdvisor have improved compatibility on their review harvest widget (Review Express). Sounds great? Not when you analyse the impact this will have on your TripAdvisor ranking and score.

All the extensive research into reviewer behaviour (Harvard Business School and Cornell School of Hotel Administration are just two high profile examples) done in recent years shows that giving guests a simple mechanism to voice their dissatisfaction will result in proportionately more (many more - perhaps by a factor of up to 15x) negative reviews being posted.

It's common sense really - just ask colleagues or friends when you are next in a group "Are you more likely to post a review if you are happy or unhappy?" - you know the answer already!

We couldn't agree more with this statement by TripAdvisor, but any professionally managed establishment will want a safety mechanism between its guests and potentially damaging reviews - and we are not ashamed to say that's where Dialogue™ comes in.

Again - great advice from TripAdvisor (maybe No. 6 is a bit intrusive for some!). It is also interesting that TripAdvisor use a UK B&B owner's testimonial...


We did our homework on the Cleveland Guest House's listing. Here are the results:
  • Total reviews since opening in October 2013: 166
  • Total reviews collected via Review Express: 18
  • Last review collected via Review Express: 24 February 2015*
  • Last review collected via Review Express before that: 29 May 2014
We find it intriguing that TripAdvisor are using a single testimonial on the header page for Review Express from a client who appears to have dropped the service (just as intriguingly, the story seems to have been posted on TripAdvisor's website post-suspension of the Review Express service - either that or Review Express is remarkably ineffective; there's been only one review posted using RE in just under a year). Why? Well, we can only make an educated guess, but we reckon the story goes something like this...
  • A less than happy guest checks out (on or around 1 June 2014), having made their views clear to the hotel. The hotel realises the guest is about to go through the Review Express system and are almost certain to post a negative review. Review Express is suspended.
And that's the problem with any system that invites the reviewer to post directly to any site (be that TripAdvisor, Google, Yelp or any other). No business is going to risk their hard-won reputation in this way. And nor should they - when they have Dialogue as an effective alternative.

*We cannot be sure, but we think it likely that this is a 'late reviewer' who took some time to respond to the Review Express email.

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