What TripAdvisor reviews actually mean for hotel operators

415 million people use TripAdvisor every month. That's a lot of potential hotel guests. 

415 million people use TripAdvisor every month. That's a lot of potential hotel guests. 

If you’re a small hotel operator or independent hospitality manager and you feel like you’re constantly battling against the big brands in the industry, well, here’s some good news: TripAdvisor is like American Idol. It’s a special way for anyone, even the small properties, to stand out and make it big.

For example, every year TripAdvisor publishes its Traveler’s Choice Awards and highlights 25 of the top properties by category. Most of them are not brand names. In 2017, in the category for the top most romantic hotels in the United States, Desert Riviera Hotel in Palm Springs, California made #5 on the list. One of the reviews of the property said:

“From the great layout to the spotless rooms, lovely pool (available 24 hours) and the most helpful staff, this hotel has everything most large chain hotels will never have.”

TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site on the web. It has 415 million average monthly users. That’s as if every single person in the United States and Australia visited the site per month. Everyone, even infants.

The question for hotel owners is if it’s worth it to go after this enormous audience and help them find your hotel. The emphatic answer is yes.

3 bottom-line reasons why you should care about TripAdvisor

  1. Your customers have pre-qualified themselves. They’re ready to book your hotel, but only if you’re ready to engage with them.
  2. There’s a very strong correlation between review ratings and revenue. The better your reviews, the more money your hotel will make.
  3. Unlike other marketing channels, TripAdvisor makes it easy to measure ROI.

TripAdvisor and customer

With 92% of travellers checking online reviews before booking, it’s strongly recommended that hoteliers dedicate time to work on their TripAdvisor listing reviews. Whether it’s responding to reviewers or uploading gorgeous photos of your rooms and amenities, there’s a lot you can do to show your customers you and your property are friendly, professional, and clean — qualities customers are looking for from businesses.

One hotel owner had no idea what TripAdvisor was.

"In June 2015 I purchased the Granville Queen Inn in Edenton, NC. I was so busy running the inn that I hadn’t paid much attention to the marketing aspect of the business, but things soon changed, my guests started posting comments on my inn on TripAdvisor, I hardly knew what TripAdvisor was until a couple weeks later I went onto the TripAdvisor site and realized that I was the #1 one rated inn in my town,” owner Robert Beasley wrote.

After giving TripAdvisor more attention and engaging with his customers on the platform, Beasley saw a huge uptick in business.

“I have since partnered with TripAdvisor and great things have happened,” he said. “Currently, I am the number one rated inn on the North Carolina Coast, thanks to TripAdvisor for getting the word out and also my customers.”

Customers can ask property owners questions directly through TripAdvisor such as “are you pet friendly?” or “do you offer long term discounts?” or “I’m a night shift worker. Is it quiet during the day?”

A quick and helpful response goes a long way. But does it pay off with regard to your bank account?

TripAdvisor and revenue

Exposure is great, but exposure alone doesn’t pay the bills. Motels and small hotels need a strong ADR to keep the lights on. Does TripAdvisor help financially?

In one Cornell study called “Hotel Performance Impact of Socially Engaging with Consumers”, the co-authors found that “revenue increases by a factor of 1.39 (that is, 39 percent) if a hotel’s review score increases one unit (say, from 3.5 to 4.5 on TripAdvisor’s 5-point scale).”

That’s a substantial increase. It’s likely due to the vertical movement in search rankings leading to more exposure. The more 5-star TripAdvisor reviews you have, the higher your property will rank. The higher you rank over your competitors, the more bookings you receive.

TripAdvisor and ROI

If you really want to capitalize on TripAdvisor, the platform also offers a paid listing program, which allows you to list contact deals, promote special offers, and view deeper analytics.

Does paying for TripAdvisor make sense?

Q4 Launch, a destination marketing company based in South Carolina, wrote about a customer who paid $1,000 a year for a TripAdvisor business listing.

After performing an analysis with Google Analytics, the firm found that:

  • The B&B owner received 688 referrals through TripAdvisor, a 47.6% increase from the previous year.
  • Of the 688 referrals, 8 converted into online bookings. This may not sound like much, but these guests contributed $3,539 in revenue for our customer.
  • This customer has a 50/50 online/phone booking ratio. We assume that ratio holds true here so there were actually 16 converted bookings. (8/50%= 16)
  • Overall, the bed and breakfast earned over $5,000 in profit with a TripAdvisor Business Listing.

This isn’t a guaranteed result and shouldn’t be expected by every Business Listing customer,  but the numbers tell a compelling story.

Both the free and the paid options with TripAdvisor present accommodation properties of any size several opportunities to engage with customers and generate increased bookings. Yes, it takes time, but remember if you can bump your star rating up just one, you’ll probably make your time investment back tenfold in ADR.

TripAdvisor is a huge platform, but it isn’t the only place customers read reviews to decisions about where to stay. Womply Reputation Defense empowers hotel operators to save time by monitoring and managing all their reviews in one place. Read about the positive impact it’s had on a bed-and-breakfast in the North Carolina mountains.