How to Manage TripAdvisor Reviews

By Daniel Edward Craig 

The Reputation Roadshow continues! Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Ciaran Fahy, managing director of social-media-savvy The Cavendish hotel in London, and Charles Yap, Director of Global Brand Communications and social media rock star of InterContinentals Hotels Group. I got some insight into how two very different hotel companies – an independent boutique and an international conglomerate – handle social media and do it with flair. More on this in future posts.

To day I’m at the Innovative Marketing Conference in London, where I’ll be sitting on a panel entitled “Online review sites: exploiting the opportunities and mitigating the downsides” with Christine Petersen, President of TripAdvisor for Business, and Hannah Clipston of Thomas Eggar.

The conference sponsor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine, asked me to write an article on managing TripAdvisor reviews, which is featured as a pull-out section in the latest issue. I’m sharing it with you today.

How to Manage TripAdvisor Reviews
TripAdvisor – the online review site now has over 50 million monthly visitors worldwide. Daniel Craig explains how to respond to a review of your business – good and bad.

Why should I respond to reviews?
Responding to reviews shows that you’re listening and you care. It’s also an opportunity to set expectations for future guests. You may be responding to an individual reviewer, but your audience is the greater community of travel shoppers. In a Forrester survey commissioned by TripAdvisor, 79% of 2,100 travellers indicated that a management response to a negative review reassures them. You have the final word. Use it, but don’t abuse it.

Which reviews should I respond to?
Respond to any commentary that is damaging to your reputation or that calls for an apology or clarification. There’s no need to respond to all positive reviews; that can get repetitive and even off-putting. Respond occasionally to thank the reviewer and to highlight the positive. Or send a private note to express gratitude to your advocates.

What should I say?
Thank the reviewer, apologize if something went wrong, and say how you’re following up. Travellers are seeking reassurance the same thing won’t happen to them, so be transparent. If you can’t fix the problem, briefly explain why. This is not the place for marketing babble, stilted hotel-speak or defensiveness. Be sincere, conversational and professional. And bear in mind that review content is searchable, so choose your words carefully and proofread before posting.

When is it okay to ignore a negative review?
If a review is offensive or irrational, you may choose to disregard it. Travellers can read between the lines, and a response will draw unnecessary attention to the review. Consider adopting Intel’s social media policy of responding to “the Good, the Bad, but not the Ugly”.

How can I cope with bad reviews?
Social media gives voice to all types, from the easily impressed to the impossible to please. At some point every business receives negative criticism, sometimes unjustly so. It’s hoteliers, not travellers, who obsess over bad reviews. Criticism adds authenticity and sets expectations. Show leadership: listen, learn, support your team and soldier on.

What if a review contains false information?
Post a response to diplomatically set the record straight. Inaccurate information is often the result of a misunderstanding rather than mean-spiritedness; never accuse a reviewer of dishonesty. TripAdvisor won’t get involved in arbitrating disputes, but if commentary is sufficiently damaging, such as a false report of bedbugs or illegal activity, use the “Dispute a Review” tool in the Management Center.

What if I suspect a review is fake?
TripAdvisor has a zero tolerance policy for fraud and has sophisticated tools for detecting it, but also depends on its community to help keep content accurate. Says Kevin Carter, TripAdvisor’s Business and Trade Public Relations Manager, “We welcome business owners to contact us if they feel a review is illegitimate or does not comply with our content policies/submission guidelines. We investigate every inquiry.” Use the “Report as Inappropriate” tool in the Management Center.

When should I consider seeking legal advice over a false review?
According to TripAdvisor, fraudulent reviews are illegal in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France and the United States, among other countries. However, pursuing legal action can be costly and stressful. Use it as a last resort. Post a response first, send a private message to the reviewer requesting the review be taken down, and dispute the review with TripAdvisor.

What should I do if TripAdvisor accuses me of posting fake reviews?
Penalties for gaming the system may include a drop in your popularity index ranking and a red badge warning travellers that your reviews are suspicious. “Offending properties are encouraged to respond to the letter they are sent notifying them about the penalty,” says Carter, “providing any information or evidence that they have to refute or confirm the allegation.

What if I can’t reach TripAdvisor?
In the past TripAdvisor has been notoriously difficult to reach, but is making efforts to be more open and responsive. This year the company launched a Customer Care Center and recently announced a dedicated customer support number and Customer Care Manager for the EMEA region. You’ll find contact information and email forms in the revamped Management Center, which also features tips and resources and FAQs for managing reviews. Carter says most inquiries are reviewed within 48 hours. A dispute resolution can take up to nine days, though often less.

How can I improve my rating and ranking on TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor doesn’t reveal its popularity index algorithm, but does confirm that the quality and volume of reviews have a significant impact on rankings, and that recent reviews have greater weight than old reviews. The only sure-fire way to increase ratings is to exceed guest expectations time and again. Set objectives, use feedback to guide improvements, and recognize staff for achievements. Keep your listing up to date and complete, and don’t be shy about asking for reviews.

See also How to Optimize Your TripAdvisor Listing and How to Cope with Bad Reviews


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18 Responses to “How to Manage TripAdvisor Reviews”

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  1. I can say I had a very good experience with Trip advisor's customer care centre. I do reccomend using tripadvisor!

  2. Tim Smart says:

    Some of the ideas that Craig explains are fantastic…However there is a better way of dealing with the TripAdvisor problem

  3. Kay Walten says:

    Great article Daniel on TA!  Thanks for your insights.

  4. Raj says:

    Great points! I am glad Trip Advisor is making it easy for hotels to connect with them. I always had issues with this part. On improving ratings I implemented a system that was based on the getting more reviews constantly by delivering great experiences and then asking for a review. When asking for a review it is also important to make it easy for a guest to write a review, for example provide them a clickable link to your hotels review page if you send an email asking for a review. Since the guests had a good experience most of them never had a issue with providing a review and those who did just responded back directly talking about their experience. Some of the guests who didn't have a good experience also responded directly talking about the experience. In my experience the volume, the quality and how recent the reviews were played the most crucial part in ranking. Every Tuesday the ranking changes so you can see if your efforts are working or not very quickly.

    • Thanks for sharing this info, Raj. How do you know the TripAdvisor ranking changes every Tuesday? I’ve asked TripAdvisor before but they don’t reveal this info – it’s part of the secret algorithm.

  5. Are Morch says:

    Hi Daniel.
    You are for sure the master of Reputation Management. So much great value delivered here in this article.
    It such a important aspect of my strategy to apply some reputation management strategies in there. You are my mentor here that is for sure.
    Why type of advice do you give Hotels that experience what I define either as the 'Bargain Review' or the 'Hit and Run Review. This is where we experience guest that either want some form of Bargain (read discount) to provide a review, or they want to get out of their obligations to pay the bill by providing some negative reviews. 
    Are Morch – Hotel Blogger

  6. Camilo Olea says:

    Daniel's posts and material on how to manage online reputation have always been a great source of inspiration for handling both my personal and professional accounts.
    Thanks, Daniel! Keep the good stuff coming. 🙂
    Camilo Olea

  7. Jo Trust says:

    Everytime I attempt to write a review on Trip Advisor I can’t sign in, I request my password to be reset and an email is supposed to be sent. No email arrives I try to sign in with Facebook that doesn’t work either. What am I doing wrong?

  8. granitepeker says:

    I had left a 2/5 review for one of their “Travelers’ Choice® 2013 Winner” hotels. The review was online for a week and the property owner had even left a reply. Then all of a sudden the review was gone. I resubmitted the review and it was in a pending state for about 5 days and then never went online. Tripadvisor is definitely filtering the truth. I’m a “Top Contributor” on TA and have 36 helpful votes. So frustrating!

  9. booboo says:

    i think that as a hotelier the most frustrating thing is that travellers leave their comments annonymous. thats the biggest problem i have with tripadvisor. why hide…? i think review will me much more truthfull and balanced if you have to leave at least a working email. this is i think the biggest reason hoteliers are so obsesed with bad reviews.

  10. John Nicholls says:

    Tripadvisor is much more than Hotel Reviews.

    There is an obsession over the TA Hotel Review section yet no mention of the Forums. TA Forums are a very underutilized, if used properly can be an effective option for hoteliers. The Forum allow the hotelier to display their deep knowledge (and “ownership”) of the location/region their guests are visiting and off course the hotels’ generosity of spirit does not go unnoticed…in other words free space to develop their brand.

    The web is about building and maintaining trust in you business, TA Reviews only provide a one shot each way match. Forums provide the hotel a myriad of possibilities which will be there forever… winning the hearts of potential guests.
    My favourite is to take many images of whatever my potential guests may be interested in, and then post the link to my image library (Picasa, Flickr or whichever you prefer). I then open a post on that subject, over time this image library of honest images of all things that will please my market grows to become the most helpful tool used by DEs (TA Destination Experts) and others. This engages travelers to your destination courtesy of you or the hotel. The images are subtly tagged with your or the hotels’ details creating dialogue and positive traffic which converts into booking. I guarantee it works, been doing it for 8 years now.

    On another note, I find the concept of hotels asking their guests to write reviews on their hotel undignified at best. If you do your job as a hotelier then they may write a good review, if not bad luck.
    If a hotel I stayed at actively solicited reviews from me they may receive a negative one on that point; depending on the intensity of their request.

  11. M OBrien says:

    TA is accusing us of fake reviews as customer post them while on the location. There is two accommodation buildings right next to us and customers can still use our connection. We started to get official notifications after we complained on several occasions about a review in which the reviewer did not even visit us but based it on a telephone conversation and gave an invalid account of this.
    Now they have red flagged us what can we do?

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