HelpHound attended the TripAdvisor business session at the Independent Hotel Show 12 at Olympia yesterday, and here's our report for our clients:
Alistair MacGregor, who heads up their Business Listings in the UK, spoke. No startling revelations, but his theme was consistent - "your potential guests are reading our reviews." Not just a few, almost all - even if they're not booking through TripAdvisor. At first, this might seem like old news, but we meet with dozens of hoteliers every month, and denial persists; there is a tendency to see one's TripAdvisor listing in a vacuum...
First, and most harmfully, the ranking tends to be ignored as long as the balance of the reviews is OK (plenty of 'excellents' and 'very goods' and few or no 'poors' and 'terribles'. This ignores human nature: there are some great hotels in London ranked in the 2 and 300s in London, There are some very good hotels (spotlessly clean and great value) listed in the 5 and 600s. But many potential guests ignore them because of their rankings.
Alistair was asked, obliquely, about ranking, and he made it pretty clear that it was done on a combination of the following:
- The ratio of positives to negatives
- The volume (with the size of the hotel factored in)
- 'Old' reviews were heavily discounted
- A mechanism to get positive reviews to your website, and then to any open site of your choice - deals with 'positives' and 'volume'
- A mechanism (Resolution™) to manage negatives before they are posted - increases the ratio of 'positives' to 'negatives'
- A constant stream of 'fresh' reviews - means 'old reviews' can safely be discounted
The question and answer session was notable for its negativity. All the questions focused on two aspects which are a recurring theme: getting unfair negatives removed and dealing with 'blackmail'. Alastair's response was consistent, if not overly popular: "Contact the business centre'. The question of verification: "Why can't TripAdvisor make our guests identify themselves?" was met, in effect with a "50 million visitors can't be wrong" kind of response.
Keep an eye on the HelpHound blog: coming soon - detailed posts dealing with these two issues as well as one on 'how to play the numbers' game'.