Some businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry regard TripAdvisor as their best friend while others regard it as their worst enemy. When it comes to online reviews, TripAdvisor is the one source that every customer consults. There is no denying of the influence the review platform has in the tourism industry and we are all aware of this. Wouldn’t we check TripAdvisor reviews from time to time before finalzing a booking?
TripAdvisor is an online review site that has grown in importance in the life of a traveller. TripAdvisor was founded in February 2000 has taken over the tourism industry. It has grown to be the leading source of user-generated reviews and has expanded its reach to include travellers, customers, vacation rentals, travel destinations, flight operators, and many other travel-related businesses. In fact, most travellers will not book a property unless they have read reviews about it (SphereMedia, 2015), whether it is a hotel, restaurant, tourist attraction, or vacation rental. TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel review website. It generates over $1 billion in revenue per year and has over 70 million members.
Importance of TripAdvisor to Tourism and Hospitality Businesses
1. TripAdvisor helps tourism businesses reach customers
TripAdvisor can assist tourism enterprises in reaching consumers when they are researching about a destination. For example, as a restaurant owner in Sagada, listing your establishment on TripAdvisor would be extremely beneficial. Consumers looking for restaurants in Sagada could access your information which include a description of the restaurant and a photo, and they’d be well on their way to dining at your establishment. If you are a new bar in Phuket and wanted to attract customers, listing your business in TripAdvisor wil give you the springboard to do so.
2. Travellers trust other travellers more than they trust the ads
It’s not surprising that most travellers trust their peers more than they trust advertising. Indeed, numerous studies have revealed that modern consumers do not trust advertising. Because modern travellers are more aware of advertising techniques, they are frequently skeptical that the experience they will receive in hotel or restaurant will be as good as the advertisement. As a result, travellers read online reviews to learn about other travellers’ experiences and get insights from them before purchasing. After which, they can make an informed decision about whether or not to use a particular hotel, tour provider, restaurant, airline, etc.
3. The Impacts of reviews (negative especially)
When considering the impact of TripAdvisor reviews on a tourism business, one of the most important factors to consider is how powerful a negative review can be. Regardless of how many positive reviews a hotel has say for instance, if a guest sees a negative one, they will almost certainly read it. Negative reviews have a significant impact on consumers, which is why responding to them is critical. Potential guests will assume a hotel don’t care if it ignore constructive feedback. The higher the quality and quantity of reviews an establishment receives, the higher its TripAdvisor ranking. And because it is so influential, businesses want their brands to be ranked highly. One’s TripAdvisor rating is critical because it determines how many potential guests discover your business. According to some studies, when guests explore a TripAdvisor page, they frequently only consider the top 5 recommendations and rarely go past the first page of 30 listings. This is yet another reason why TripAdvisor is so important and why tourism businesses should invest time in improving their TripAdvisor ranking.
4. TripAdvisor is a free marketing tool
The potential impacts of TripAdvisor on tourism business are numerous – the ranking, volume and quality of reviews, as well as a brand’s presence and ability to respond, all contribute to the creation of an image of a business. If a business wants to attract new visitors to a property, say hotel or tour service, they should not underestimate the power of TripAdvisor; instead, leverage it because using it is free. TripAdvisor offers a variety of tools, such as icons, widgets, and badges such as “Travellers’ Choice” and “Certificates of Excellence” which can be used by businesses in their own website, email newsletters, and social media pages.
How destinations can leverage the use TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor isn’t just for tourism companies. Visitor Information Centers can also use TripAdvisor to keep visitors informed and encourage them to stay longer, spend more, and have a better experience in their destination.
1. Enlist visitor information center
Many Visitor Information Centers are attractions in their own right – offering local products for sale, bike rentals, walking tours, event information, and so on. This is not to mention their excellent local knowledge and booking service which all contribute to visitors staying longer and having a better time. As a result, it is critical that visitors can locate Visitor Information Centers on TripAdvisor, either on the TripAdvisor website or by using the “Near Me Now” option on the TripAdvisor App.
2. Enlist public attractions such as beaches, caves, etc
Many of a destination’s most popular attractions such as parks, walking trails, playgrounds, mountains, and beaches, are often free to the public because they are government properties. In addition to the tourism businesses in the area, these are frequently hidden secrets of a place that visitors enjoy discovering. Lake Danum in Sagada for example is a main attraction and free to viist and managed by the LGU. It is important that public attractions be listed on TripAdvisor and have accurate information displayed. Visitors will be able to find them if they use TripAdvisor.
3. Enlist LGU-managed tourism experiences
Many local experiences in the Philippines are managed b local government units. If an LGU manages a tourism experiences in a destination such as a walking tour, then it’s important to claim and manage a listing for each tourism experience, so the unit involved can respond to customer feedback. For example, the Callao Caves Recreational Area, it is important that LGU Cagayan who owns and manages it should claim its TripAdvisor listing and respond to tourists feedbacks.
4. Encourage positive reviews
Encouraging tourists to leave more positive reviews is an excellent way to raise awareness of a destinations attraction and it is an effective free word-of-mouth marketing. A great example of a destination doing this well is The Margaret River Region. They manage tours of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouses and the region’s caves. Guides at each attractions hand out a card at the end of the tour with the guide’s name and also asking people to leave a review on TripAdvisor. The results speak for themselves, with hundreds of positive reviews being left by visitors, making the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and Cave Tours top rated attractions in the Margaret River Region on TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor provides a significant benefit to the entire tourism and hospitality industry similar to social media platforms. Businesses should take advantage of it because it is free to use and the potential is huge. When used properly, TripAdvisor can be used by tourism establishments and destinations in reaching more visitors.