I am an avid traveler and I am also a TripAdvisor “top contributor” member. Yesterday I watched a presentation by Justin Reid from TripAdvisor at the ETAS15 conference. Justin shared some key learnings about the South African local and regional travel trade.
TripAdvisor is now the world’s largest travel site and plays a major part in millions of travelers’ decision-making processes – here is a review of their current stats:
- 340 MILLION monthly visitors
- 78 MILLION members
- 225 MILLION reviews & opinions
- 47 SITES in 28 languages
This key role in the travel distribution process has enabled invaluable access to rich data that shows not just how travelers are making their bookings, but how they are thinking about and planning their travel.
TripAdvisor visitors search for information in different ways. There are those travelers who look for information by searching via Google search or via the TripAdvisor search tools. It is interesting to note that the majority of TripAdvisor searches are happening once travelers are actually in South Africa. This indicates that people are searching for local information while they are actually on their holiday, and not only prior to leaving on their holiday.
The UK and German are the next highest traffic referrers, but the UK users don’t make nearly as many online bookings as the German users. Justin shared that China is growing its interest in South Africa, however their conversion rate for bookings is currently rather low.
Local cuisine is one of the most important factors for travelers when booking a holiday destination. Approximately 50% of holiday makers choose a destination based on food, therefore cuisine has become a strategic element in choosing a holiday destination. South Africa is well known for its great food and wine, which is a big factor in our success as a travel destination. There are now more restaurants than hotels on TripAdvisor. Whether you are an attraction, a restaurant or a hotel, it is advisable that you make use of their free tools as a minimum.
Some tips on how to build good ratings
1. Make sure your business is registered:
- It is very likely that your business already appears on TripAdvisor, so find and claim your TripAdvisor listing.
- Once you have claimed your profile you can start to make use of the free access to powerful business-building tools.
- Engage with guests after they have stayed with you.
- Send reminders in a timely manner to post a review, make sure you get guests’ email details.
2. A picture is worth a thousand words:
- Optimise Your Listing – update your business description, add photos, and highlight amenities to attract traveler’s attention.
- Ensure your own photos are of excellent quality.
- You should use high resolution photos and not tiny thumbnails.
- Use photos that show guests and not empty beds or restaurants.
3. Reply to comments:
- Giving a ‘bespoke’ response to each review received aids in building a good profile as well as a one-to-one relationship with your customer.
- Manage Your Reviews – generate more feedback with Review Express and join the conversation via Management Responses
4. Do not cut and paste replies:
- Avoid using the same canned response over and over.
- Use the person’s first name as a salutation e.g. “Dear John”.
5. A bad review isn’t wrong:
- Consider a bad review as customer research, be proactive about turning a bad review into repeat business by engaging the customer rather than ignoring them.
- Track your performance – Analyze how you’re engaging with travelers on TripAdvisor and how you measure up against competitors.
6. Be visible about your TripAdvisor profile:
- This applies to both your online and offline profiles, make sure your audience knows that your affiliated with TripAdvisor.
- TripAdvisor stickers are a great offline tool, when a guest sees that your establishment is listed it alleviates worries and gives them a sense of security about their decision.
- Three out of four travelers prefer businesses with a TripAdvisor endorsement, so make sure you get these stickers up and start getting more walk-in traffic and reviews.
- Include your reviews in your advertisements.
- Show your TripAdvisor awards if they are available.
- Widgets allow you to add TripAdvisor content to your own website.
- You can even add TripAdvisor to your Facebook fan page.
BONUS TIP: Make use of paid tools
- Once you have maximized you free tools, consider signing up for paid Business Listings.
- These paid tools will help drive direct bookings and maximize your visibility.
- Make use of the huge amount of data that is available to you by accessing performance, traveler engagement and competitor data that can help you refine and refocus your marketing strategy.
In conclusion, TripAdvisor is a fantastic and easy to use tool that has become imperative to any travel business’s online presence.