Tripadvisor: Current Tourism is Review Based.

Feb 19, 2018

Solène Zores, Account Manager | Agence Dagré, France | com@dagre.fr

Tourism is changing, and taking care of a travel brands online reputation could be the key to success.

Nowadays, when tourists need to find a hotel or a restaurant, the first thing they do is to Google it. “Hotel” or “Restaurant” + a destination is the most common way to make this kind of search. You can open a new window of your browser right now and do a little experiment. Go on Google and type “Restaurant Strasbourg”, and then launch the search. After the Google Map results (the actual list of Strasbourg restaurants), the first result we have is… TripAdvisor’s top 10 restaurants in Strasbourg.

You can try to change the destination and repeat the experiment: the result doesn't change as long as you chose a touristic city. And what if you try to type an unknown town? Well… you still have TripAdvisor amongst the top results. The site is always there, even if you search for hotels or monuments. Thanks to its excellent web indexing, tourists who are planning their travel online are likely to come across TripAdvisor at least once during their research. If this website is so well indexed, it’s because it is actually very popular.

According to its home page, TripAdvisor is the biggest travel website in the world: it collects more than 500 millions travellers’ reviews and it compares more than 200 reservation websites, in order to help tourists find the travel solution that suits them the most. Because of its popularity, TripAdvisor is changing the entire restaurant and hotel industry: having good reviews on TripAdvisor is one of the most important attractive features for a restaurant, because it can decisively influence a customer’s choices. The number and the quality of reviews are determining. Having a few good reviews is a good start, but it could seem weird if it lasts for a long time; having a lot of good reviews can carry a business in a virtuous circle of new customers and more good reviews. On the other side, a few bad reviews can kill a little business and a lot of bad reviews usually brings certain death.

Obviously, quality (in service, food, price…) is essential to have a good TripAdvisor grade, but it is often not enough. In fact, satisfied customers don’t always think to write a good review: they had what they wanted and they don’t always feel the need to share their experience. To bypass this problem, owners should ask them to. Conversely, unsatisfied customers are more likely to vent their frustration by bringing the brunt of their anger down in their review. Bad reviews are easier to obtain and harder to fix: apologies or explanations don’t always manage to calm the bad buzz down. Especially when it comes from fake reviews. Fake reviews are the major problem for TripAdvisor. How can we distinguish an opinion based on a true experience from a fraudulent one? It is almost impossible to do it with an algorithm. No one can certify a review’s authenticity, except for the customer themselves and the owner, neither are impartial nor reliable.

TripAdvisor can only block reviews published by bots and moderate reviews before publishing them, but since they don’t have any clue whether the author is telling the truth or not, they cannot do much to avoid publishing fake reviews. It will be up to the tourist to determine the truthful and really useful reviews and to figure out the real value of a business. Usually, angry reviews where everything is bad are barely reliable. And the same can be said about the overly enthusiastic ones, where everything is perfect. Trustful reviewers usually find some darkness in light and some light in darkness; they limit their humour and don’t publish reviews from different, remote locations every day. Travel and tourism businesses have to pay attention to these factors, make the effort to encourage happy customers to share their experiences and always try to explain the imperfections pointed out by unhappy customers. In conclusion, tourism is changing, and taking care of a travel brands online reputation could be the key to success.

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