Reading guest reviews has become a standard process in the travel shopping journey. 95% of travelers read travel reviews when planning a trip and 76% of travel shoppers believe that online reviews provide valuable insight. When looking for hotel reviews, most travel shoppers turn to TripAdvisor.
According to comScore, TripAdvisor is the most visited travel website in the world with almost 67 million unique monthly visitors. And new content is constantly being uploaded to the site; users write an average of 280 new reviews every minute!
TripAdvisor is therefore an important channel for hoteliers to keep an eye on. But more than that, there are certain things you can do to ensure your hotel ranks higher on TripAdvisor and attracts more guests. In this article we outline how TripAdvisor’s Popularity Ranking algorithm works and what you can do to improve your ranking.
TripAdvisor’s Popularity Ranking Algorithm
Last year, TripAdvisor made changes to their Popularity Ranking algorithm in an attempt to improve fairness and accuracy. Due to the speed at which travelers are sharing their experiences on the site, TripAdvisor had seen many new properties skyrocket to the top of the rankings based on a relatively small number of 5-bubble reviews. Over time, these “fast risers” would settle into more stable, accurate rankings as more reviews were submitted. However, during this transition period, consumers may not have been seeing the most accurate rankings for their destination. So TripAdvisor changed things.
Like all tech giants, TripAdvisor won’t divulge all the details of how their algorithm works, but we do know the 3 main factors that determine your TripAdvisor ranking.
All other things being equal, the hotel with higher review scores will rank higher. TripAdvisor uses a 5 bubble rating system, instead of stars. Hotels with 4 & 5 bubble ratings will appear higher than hotels with 1 & 2 bubble ratings.
In order to provide a better sense of the experience at a hotel, TripAdvisor gives more recent reviews a higher value than older ones. Your hotel must constantly be meeting guests’ expectations to continue ranking well. Travel shoppers looking to book a hotel don’t care what staying at your hotel was like 5 years ago, they want to know what they can expect if they stayed with you tomorrow.
This part of the algorithm directly addresses the issue of “fast-risers” on TripAdvisor based off a few glowing reviews. There needs to be volume in these 5-bubble reviews too. That being said, having a couple more reviews than your competitor isn’t going to make much of a difference. TripAdvisor is simply looking for enough reviews to deliver a statistically meaningful comparison to other properties. So a hotel with 165 reviews won’t automatically rank higher than a hotel with 150 reviews over the same period. They both have enough reviews to provide meaning.
How to Improve Your TripAdvisor Ranking
So now that you know how the TripAdvisor algorithm works, how can you improve your ranking? Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. It is a long game that requires consistent attention. However, by adopting some simple strategies, over time you should see your ranking improve.
Guest’s don’t expect the same experience at a roadside motel as they would at a 5-star resort. Make sure that guests know what to expect from your property before they book. Upload images to your TripAdvisor property page. This not only ensures you’re setting the right expectations, but research has shown that adding photos results in 138% more engagement from travelers, and properties with at least one photo see a 225% increase in the likelihood of a booking inquiry.
Invest in Your Staff
Your staff are the ones interacting with your guests every day. It’s important that they’re passionate and have a positive attitude. One unpleasant guest interaction can lead to a negative review. So spend the time and effort creating a guest-centric culture. Your employees should be your most valuable asset.
Get Ahead of Negative Reviews
Mistakes will happen, and guests will eventually have complaints. By addressing and resolving these complaint immediately, you can turn a negative into a positive. Don’t wait for a guest to become dissatisfied. Be proactive and ask guests how they’re enjoying their stay. They may have a minor issue that doesn’t warrant a complaint, but you can easily address. Empower your staff to go the extra mile and you will see more positive reviews flow in.
Encourage Guests to Leave Reviews
When guests checkout encourage them to leave a review of your property. You would be surprised how many guests would never think to write one. However, do not offer any sort of incentive for leaving a review as TripAdvisor views this as fraud and your ranking will actually be lowered.
Monitor & Respond to Reviews
You should be constantly monitoring the reviews you receive on TripAdvisor. Treat them as learning opportunities to find out where you excel and where you can improve. Make sure you quickly respond to any negative reviews, ideally within 24 hours. While this doesn’t directly improve your ranking, it sets the expectation for future guests that any issues will be addressed, which can actually help drive bookings!
TripAdvisor & Vizlly
TripAdvisor reviews are an important part of the travel shopping journey. You know travel shoppers will seek them out, so why not make it easy for them? TripAdvisor offers several widgets you can embed on your website to pull your TripAdvisor reviews in. This ensures you keep travel shoppers engaged on your website, increasing the likelihood they will book directly.
In addition, hotel websites powered by Vizlly include smart navigation elements designed to lead travel shoppers further down the booking path to your booking engine.
Want to learn more about the importance of providing social proof to drive more bookings? Watch the on-demand video of our Digital Marketing Conference featuring: Ellis Connolly, Chief Revenue Officer for TrustYou and Charlie Osmond, Chief Tease for Triptease.