Oh, those TripAdvisor reviews. They can be your best ambassador (“Lovely stay” and “GREAT staff”) or worst enemy (“Disappointing” and “It’s a dump”). Yet, more than social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, review sites like TripAdvisor have greater impact on your brand reputation and directly correlate with a traveler’s decision to book.
It may seem like your brand’s online reputation is out of your hands and in the hands of everyone else. But by not responding to online reviews, you miss an opportunity to keep the conversation going. Tell your side of the story, and you can maximize the positive reviews, minimize the negative ones and strengthen your brand position.
Add content | One out of three travelers check TripAdvisor reviews*, and they are usually in “hyper booking” mode. TripAdvisor gives them plenty of content to help form a decision. Use the Management Response to add your own content. While it is tempting (read “easy”) to create a few canned responses, it’s to your favor to create a fresh response that shows you are listening to the reviewer and provides more information that either enhances a glowing review or explains and remedies the less positive.
Stay on brand | Responding to a review gives you the opportunity to reinforce your brand promise. Include brand language and brand pillars in your response when it sounds natural. Use reviews as a brand barometer, too. You should see elements of your brand promise in the reviews. If yours is “to provide a romantic and luxurious experience” and the reviews say otherwise, it may be time for a brand review.
Set the tone | This may seem like a no-brainer, however it’s important to remember that the Management Response not only impacts the reviewer but the hundreds (and hundreds) of people who read it. TripAdvisor offers this comforting statistic: most travelers (80%*) ignore extreme reviews. Keep it polite and professional on your side, and you can turn even those sour reviews into lemonade.
Close the loop | Current reviews carry more weight, so stay on top of your responses by signing up for TripAdvisor’s Review Alerts. Set up guidelines for how, when and who responds, and make sure everyone is part of the effort. A staff member at the front desk may be the best person to respond to positive reviews while management might reply to one, two or three bubble reviews. Not sure? This might change your mind: TripAdvisor’s December 2014 survey revealed that 77% of survey respondents think a Management Response shows you care more.
The bottom line: ask for the review and respond promptly. Don’t be scared of negative reviews—the average TripAdvisor review is four out of five bubbles*. Keep in mind that most reviewers want to help other travelers. By joining in, you show you care about the reviewer’s experience and the travel community at large.
For branding expertise or help developing your online reputation, contact Lynn Kaniper today at 609.466.9187 ext. 117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Statistics from eCornell’s free online course Managing Your Online Reputation with TripAdvisor