Nowadays, TripAdvisor is one of the main online marketplaces in tourism and almost all tour operators are listed there.
But just being listed there may not have the same result as featuring on its first page.
Businesses that manage to be on top positions experience a greater amount of bookings, if compared to the ones that are on the second page and further. Even the ones that are on the first page, but not on the top three positions feel this difference in booking numbers.
You must be asking yourself: How can I feature on the first page?
We will get there. First, you should understand how online listings in general work.
How TripAdvisor Works
Online platforms, such as TripAdvisor, are out there to make travelers’ lives easier. Their main goal is finding exactly what their users are searching for, in terms of type, price and quality of products/service.
In order to do that, they use very advanced algorithms that find the right match for the searcher based on the keywords and filters applied. These algorithms have their own parameters to build a list of best results that may vary depending on the platform used.
TripAdvisor, for example, has reviews in the core of its algorithm and officially takes three main aspects into consideration when ranking a product based on them: quality, recency and quantity.
Once you have the correct mix of them, you will be able to feature on TripAdvisor’s first page and see your bookings through this platform skyrocket.
So let’s take a deep look into these three parameters and check out what you should do to hit the first positions.
Quality of Reviews
Basically, experiences with a higher number of 5-bubble reviews will rank better than the ones with a lower number of them. But keep in mind that having a larger number of good reviews than your competitor doesn’t mean that you will get the first position.
The number of poor reviews (1-2 bubbles) is also taken into consideration by the algorithm and it makes a huge difference in your listing. For example, you can have 100 good reviews and 20 bad reviews. Under similar conditions, your competitor, which has 70 good reviews and only 1 poor review, will be better positioned than you.
The secret in getting lots of good reviews? Easy… providing a great service from start to finish.
Now, take a look at these two experiences listed on TripAdvisor:
Although it has less top-rated reviews (140 in total compared to 293), the first tour also has less poor reviews (0 compared to 34), which puts it in a better position.
Recency of Reviews
TripAdvisor’s algorithm uses a weight system to grade each review, and recency is a key aspect that is considered. It means the more recent the review, the higher its weight in the ranking process.
This system was developed to praise services and products that have improved over time, since bad old reviews have a lower weight and, as a result, less impact on the ranking.
Another consequence is that experiences with a smaller number of good reviews can have a better grade than the ones with a larger number of high, but old reviews. That makes always asking for new reviews imperative.
Number of Reviews
The number of reviews is very important when you are trying to rank on the top of TripAdvisor, but it’s not everything.
You can find tours in the first position with fewer reviews than the second position. Check this screenshot taken on the day 18/09/2019 for the search “Day Trips” in Barcelona.
Here you can see that the first position is a tour with around half the number of reviews the second position has, and one-third the third one does. Notice that all of them have an overall grade of 5.
Here is an excerpt that was taken from TripAdvisor’s website, which explains why that happens:
“When we talk about review quantity, it’s important to note that a business just needs to have enough reviews to provide statistical significance and allow for a confident comparison to other businesses. Just having more reviews doesn’t mean that a business will be ranked higher than its competitors.”
Considering what is stated above, experiences with a similar number of ratings will have their positions determined only by the recency and quality of the reviews rather than their total number. That happens because, after a certain amount of reviews, TripAdvisor’s algorithm has enough data to evaluate the potential that an offer has in terms of delivering a good travel experience.
After learning the factors behind TripAdvisor’s rank, you will know the importance of being constantly asking for new reviews. So, here are some ideas to get more reviews and keep your page up-to-date:
- Ask for reviews at the end of a tour
- Use a booking system that sends automated follow-up emails asking for reviews
- Use TripAdvisor’s services like “Reviews Express”
- Apply customer surveys
- Create Facebook ads targeting past guest to ask for reviews
Remember to use a personal tone when asking for reviews. It is also a good idea having your tour guides asking for them. They can pretend to compete for more reviews or just say at the end of a tour that they will get a raise after reaching a certain number of good reviews.
Increasing your Conversions on TripAdvisor
As we have been discussing on this article, when the topic is TripAdvisor, reviews are almost everything. Yes, I said almost.
Keeping their recency, number and quality is just half the job. There are at least two other aspects that you should be careful about if you want to master this platform: the content of reviews and the management response rate.
The Content of Reviews
You might not know, but the content of reviews matters a lot to your target customers. In short, complete reviews are more relevant than short reviews and it can increase your conversions.
A valuable review is the one that has a detailed description of your tour, a personal tone and pictures. This kind of review has a positive impact when the reader is deciding whether or not booking with you.
Below you can see an example of a valuable review:
Notice that it mentions what the experience was like, it has a detailed description of the activities, and also displays pictures of the tour/location and even the guide’s name. Now check a poor review out:
Compared to the previous example, this one isn’t so detailed and it doesn’t add a lot of information to the reader. But all in all, a poor review is better than no review.
No one buys a product or a service from a business that doesn’t care about its customers. But how can you know that by just seeing an Ad on TripAdvisor? The answer is simple: by checking if the business answers to its customer’s reviews.
Researches have already shown that answering promptly and professionally to reviews addressing any complaints and positive comments will have a positive impact on prospective customers.
According to that, a Phocuswright study shows that 85% of the respondents said that a thoughtful response to a review increased their impression over a hotel. And 65% are more likely to book from businesses that answer their reviews than the ones that don’t.
By being on TripAdvisor, you should answer as many positive reviews as you can, and all the negative reviews that you receive.
But please, don’t give a standard answer to each and every review you receive. It is important to show that you read the reviews before answering them, plus making it clear that you care about your customers’ opinions and thoughts.
A thoughtful answer is the one that has elements of the review on it. If a guest mentions tour guides, make a comment related to their work or personality. If the review contains something about food, talk about the chef or the recipe. Remember, the more personal the approach, the more delighted your customer will be. Take a look at an example of a good answer to a positive review:
On the other hand, if it is a negative review, first you should read it, then you chill out, and finally you answer it. Don’t take any criticism personally. Here goes an example of a good answer to a negative review:
When facing a negative review, you should understand the customer’s side of the story. Be helpful and always show that you are trying to improve your services. If necessary, schedule a call or send an email to discuss the issue.
When answering poor reviews, if they are positive, “thank you” is enough. If they are negative, ask what the issue was and try to get as many details as you can. This way, you can use it to improve your services.
TripAdvisor’s listing is refreshed daily. Therefore, keeping your services in the top positions is an exercise that demands a lot of work. Don’t assume that only creating an ad and posting it on the platform will solve all your problems.
In order to be on the top and see your bookings grow, you should ask for reviews continuously, especially the relevant ones, and answer as many reviews as you can.
Regarding the listing process, if business A is above business B, in most cases, this is because A has a statistically better set of reviews (based on quality, quantity, and recency) than B.
One More Thing You Should Know About TripAdvisor
If you are thinking about creating fake accounts to increase your rating on TripAdvisor, be careful. Penalties can be applied to cheaters in order to keep the platform’s credibility.
These penalties have a direct impact on a business’s position and can also lead to the publication of a red alert warning on the business page. I don’t even need to mention it will have a terrible impact on your bookings and on the trust of your audience.
TripAdvisor can be a great tool to gather reviews and get bookings. But an effective strategy does not focus on only one distribution channel.
Choosing where to sell your tours is not easy, especially with all the options on the market. Now with Reserve with Google, Google my Business has become a promising place to have your reviews. Take a look at this article and discover which review platform suits you best.