When it comes to travel sites, Boston-based TripAdvisor dwarfs all rivals with its 500 million reviews spanning 7 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. TripAdvisor-branded sites receive an average of 390 million unique visitors each month in 49 markets, with millions of those visitors booking hotels directly from the site. They have more than quadrupled their number of unique visitors in the last five years and show no signs of slowing down, making TripAdvisor impossible for any hotelier to ignore.
As online reviewers become more and more scrupulous, achieving the flawless online reputation you’re reaching for can feel like a Herculean task. Reviewers are able to post unapologetic photos of even the slightest imperfections, giving them the power to diminish your reputation with just one shot of a shower drain. However, your reviewers can also be your very best salespeople and most successful marketing team. A stunning photo of a sunset from the breathtaking balcony of your best suite can win over a slew of discerning travellers. As consumers become more and more reliant on review sites like TripAdvisor to make their travel decisions, your reputation is now in the smartphone-holding hands of your guests. So, how exactly do TripAdvisor reviews influence your hotel’s bottom line?
TripAdvisor Influences Guests’ Likelihood to Book
A study out of New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism found that travellers are nearly four times more likely to select a hotel with higher review scores when prices are the same. In fact, 76% of travellers are more willing to book with a hotel with higher scores even if it costs more than its equivalent hotel with a lower rating.
This directly influences bottom line numbers. Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research found that for every percentage point a hotel improves in its online rating, its RevPAR increases by 1.4 percent—meaning each and every rating can have a direct impact on your revenue. Furthermore, for every point its reputation improves on a five-point scale, a hotel can raise prices by 11 percent without seeing a decrease in bookings.
Star Ratings are More Important than Ranking
Researchers at the University of Central Florida also had unique findings when they looked at a sample of 178 hotels dispersed across the U.S., including large brands and independent properties. They determined that while there is a relationship between the number of stars a hotel has and its revenue per transaction (meaning a 4-star hotel generates more revenue than a 3-star), the TripAdvisor ranking assigned to a hotel (#13 in Orlando, for example) does not have a conclusive impact on revenue. The algorithm used for determining these rankings has never been revealed to the public, making it difficult to nail down how exactly to move your hotel’s ranking up the ladder. However, no correlation was proven when they assessed the revenues of high-ranking TripAdvisor hotels and low-ranking TripAdvisor hotels—meaning while your star rating is important, it may not matter whether or not you’re in the top 10 or top 50 hotels for a given city.
The More Reviews, the Better
The total amount of reviews, on the other hand, does change guests’ perceptions of your property. University of Central Florida’s study found that the more TripAdvisor reviews a hotel has, the more revenue it will generate with each transaction. This could be because there are more opportunities to have your strengths highlighted, or that your hotel is legitimized by the sheer number of people reporting on it.
Getting your guests to leave reviews therefore translates to a healthier bottom line—so be sure to encourage guests to leave feedback. The information guests leave online can in turn be used to develop stronger loyalty programs and to improve any pain points your customers experience at any point in the guest life cycle. A strong PMS can help you track guest reviews across platforms, and will integrate with post-stay reputation management platforms such as Guestfolio, Revinate and Medallia. Using these interfaces can help your hotel act on customer input and secure guest loyalty.
TripAdvisor can either work for or against you. Be sure to fill out your profile in its entirety and feature your very best photos. Hoteliers should also increase their engagement with guests by responding to every review and taking the time to let customers know that their feedback is both heard and appreciated. With an estimated 100 reviews being added per second, TripAdvisor is a powerful force that can help drive your bottom line.
Read more about the power of online reviews and how RoomKeyPMS can help your property manage its reputation online.