The vast majority of travellers seek out online reviews before booking a hotel, and for a good reason. They believe that reviews cut through the marketing and describe what the guest experience is really like. Lived experiences are seen as accurate and honest, which is why reviews have an outsized influence on booking decisions—and why hotels often hate TripAdvisor.
A bad review doesn’t just drive down bookings—it creates extra costs and lost opportunities across the board. Worse, just a few bad reviews can speak louder than dozens of positive ones. Considering what is at stake, hotels tend to see TripAdvisor as a liability at best. However, what if that attitude just perpetuates the problem?
In truth, TripAdvisor is not necessarily as disruptive as hotels perceive, and it can actually be an asset in the right hands. To illustrate how, we are dispelling some popular myths about the platform and highlighting how hoteliers can use TripAdvisor to their advantage.
Myth 1: TripAdvisor is Bad for the Hospitality Industry
With so much negative energy being directed at hotels, bookings must be down, right? In truth, research shows TripAdvisor has created more demand for bookings and increased the average spend too. Interestingly, TripAdvisor has also stated that the majority of reviews on the site are actually positive, around 75% are either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. Thus, the industry as a whole has benefited, even if a few individual hotels have not.
Myth 2: Good Reviews Get Ignored
Bad reviews may stick out, but that doesn’t mean good reviews have no influence. Almost 90% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, meaning a favorable review is especially compelling. Furthermore, studies have shown that if a hotel increases its review score by one point on a 5-point scale (such as from 3.3 to 4.3), they can charge up to 11.2% more without affecting occupancy levels.
Myth 3: Bad Reviews are Devastating
Some reviews are especially negative and vicious, but that doesn’t mean they are especially convincing. One survey shows the majority of travellers ignore extreme reviews entirely. These reviews are perceived as outliers, suggesting that the reviews hotels worry about the most actually have little effect on booking behaviors.
Myth 4: The Fewer Reviews the Better
Hotels might prefer to have no reputation than a bad reputation, but guests see things differently—53% of guests will not book a hotel that has no reviews at all. Why would they, after all, when every competing hotel has reviews online? Considering that the average traveller reads 6 to 12 reviews before booking, a lack of information online raises red flags.
Myth 5: Hotels are Passive Actors
TripAdvisor actively invites hotels to participate on the platform. After signing up, hotels can post pictures, descriptions and videos, and ultimately turn TripAdvisor into a powerful marketing channel. The hotels that come to resent TripAdvisor the most tend to be the ones that engage with it the least. Also, while the platform doesn’t condone the incentivization of reviews, it openly encourages hotels to ask for reviews, so there’s no reason you can’t turn happy guests into brand ambassadors.
Myth 6: Reviews Go One Way
Hotels don’t have to stay silent after receiving a bad review, as TripAdvisor allows hotels to reply to guest comments. Research shows that guests like to see this active engagement, suggesting that people actually prefer an open dialogue between hotels and guests. More significantly, 85% of TripAdvisor users say that a good response to a bad review enhances their perception of the hotel.
Myth 7: Reviews Are Untrustworthy
It’s tempting to believe that TripAdvisor is largely frequented by grumpy misanthropes who love nothing more than to nitpick and leave rotten reviews. The reality, however, is rather different. While the truth of any single review is definitely up for debate, in the aggregate, TripAdvisor reviews are actually quite reliable. According to the company, it “developed a multi-tiered approach to content screening that includes a dedicated team, sophisticated technology and our loyal community.” This is great news for hotels. As long you give guests the pleasant experience they anticipated, they’ll be happy to provide a fair and positive review.
A little bit of attention and effort can transform TripAdvisor into a valued booking channel. The challenge is adding TripAdvisor to an already crowded and complicated digital outreach strategy. Hotels run the risk of sending mixed messages while wasting parts of the marketing budget. Forward-thinking hotels have turned to technology for the solution, and it doesn’t apply just to TripAdvisor, or even just to online marketing. Technology upgrades the guest experience, which leads directly to more positive reviews.
RoomKeyPMS integrates every aspect of hotel management on one platform so that details are never overlooked. When you’re ready to improve your customer experience, contact our team.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / NicoElNino