Complete Guide to TripAdvisor for Travel Businesses in 2020-21

TripAdvisor has revolutionised how we travel and has disrupted the travel industry in a way which was unimaginable a few decades ago.

Before the era of the internet, there was no way to know before you travelled about the quality of service provided by a hotel or resort. Except for the word of the company selling you the holiday!

TripAdvisor changed this and made travel research more accessible by providing an open platform for reviewing and rating travel businesses.

It was among the first sites launched to help travellers research and plan their holidays and is now visited by 500 million unique visitors in a month.

The site is ranked #1 for travel and tourism sites and #163 of all websites globally.

There are more than 1.2 million hotels listed on TripAdvisor, along with 136,000 destinations. The site had 730 million reviews (at January 2019) and has a database of 4.9 million restaurants.

Almost 77% of travellers use TripAdvisor for planning their travel and primarily conduct pre-transaction (booking) research.

According to a study conducted by TripAdvisor in partnership with Oxford Economics, TripAdvisor influenced 10.3% of global travel spend worth $546 billion in 2017.

Other studies suggest that TripAdvisor can now affect the tourism industries of entire countries.

These stats speak for themselves, and no modern travel business can thrive without managing their reputation on TripAdvisor.

In this article, we will discuss the factors which influence a business’ ranking on TripAdvisor and will also share some tips to improve your rank on TripAdvisor.

Your TripAdvisor Ranking

TripAdvisor allows users to post reviews of travel businesses, and it then ranks each business based on several factors.

TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking algorithm usually considers three factors (quantity, quality, and recency of reviews) to determine the ranking of a business on TripAdvisor.

Quantity of Reviews

Quantity of reviews means the total number of reviews which a business has. More popular travel businesses will have a higher number of reviews left by customers.

TripAdvisor considers the overall quantity of reviews to calculate the size of the business and the local rank.

Quality of Reviews

Quality of reviews refers to how highly visitors rate a travel establishment. 5-star reviews are better than 3.5 stars. Simple.

Having more top-quality reviews signals TripAdvisor that your business provides exceptional quality service and is better than other competitors in the area.

Recency of Reviews

TripAdvisor aims to provide an accurate picture of the quality of service and customer experience at a business.

TripAdvisor’s algorithm is designed to give more weight to recent reviews, where older reviews don’t affect the TripAdvisor ranking of a business as much.

This aims to provide a level playing field to new travel businesses who may not have a history of reviews.

Tips for Ranking Higher on TripAdvisor

Successful travel businesses have discovered that some simple things are the most effective when it comes to improving your TripAdvisor ranking.

Providing exceptional service

This must be your priority as companies can no longer provide shoddy service in the hope that it goes unnoticed.

Customers now have the option to review a their hotel or holiday from their smartphones in just a few clicks.

Unsatisfied customers can easily leave a negative review for the whole World to see!

Let’s hope yours isn’t quite that bad! 😉

Do your best in terms of customer service. Going the extra mile when possible will undoubtedly help you where customer reviews are concerned.

Ask your customers to review you on TripAdvisor

Many businesses use banners in emails and other customer communication to ask their customers to review them directly on the site.

You can also adopt a similar approach offline and include Trip Advisor in your promotional literature.

These methods, and asking in person, remind your customers to leave a positive review for you on TripAdvisor.

Respond to all the reviews left by your customers

This is irrespective of whether it’s a positive or negative review!

Almost 57% of users say that they are more likely to book a hotel if the management has responded to reviews of previous customers.

Responding to reviews shows to your prospective customers that you care about them and are mindful of your reputation.

A well-informed and well-written reply to a negative comment can be more beneficial to your brand than a positive review.

Display your successes

The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence is an important symbol of your service quality.

Use this…

on your website,

in your email footer,

in your marketing newsletter,

in your reception area,

in your flyers and brochure,

in your Facebook cover image,

on your show stand,

Everywhere you can!

How to Respond to Reviews

Personalise

It’s essential to provide a customised response to each positive review on TripAdvisor.

Nothing turns off a customer more than a mechanical template-based response.

You must respond to all the reviews as a person and not as a business as this will allow you to build a connection with the reviewer.

Always use the name of the customer when replying to a review, and if you possible, mention something positive (or unique) about their experience.

Thank the reviewer

A small thank you goes a long way in building rapport with your customers.

Always thank your customers for giving you a positive review as this can convert them into lifelong brand-ambassadors.

Many business owners forget to thank the customer for a positive review, and this small act portrays them as ungrateful.

Acknowledging a reviewer will show them that you care about your reputation.

Share it on Social Media

You can combine the power of positive testimonials from your clients with the viral nature of social media by sharing positive reviews left by your customers on your social media platforms.

It’s always a good idea to share anything positive about your business across all the social media platforms on which you have a presence.

This is the same for sharing successes with awards and recognition.

How to respond to Negative Reviews

Accept Criticism

Accepting criticism is a hallmark of all great enterprises.

Being able to identify weak points and address shortcomings, is very positive trait.

Many business owners become quite defensive in the face of criticism and try to refute the allegations of bad service (the leading cause of negative reviews).

Never take criticism personally as the customer usually leaves negative reviews due to a poor experience, and this mostly has nothing to do with you as a person.

Well, most of the time…

Try to answer the questions and explain things from your standpoint in a polite manner.

Empathise with the reviewer

A little bit of empathy will go a long way to help resolve your customer’s complaints.

Try to put yourself in your shoes and understand how you’d have felt if you had a similar experience.

Get to the root cause of the issue and empathise with the reviewer for their bad experience.

Travellers often leave negative reviews if the staff has been disrespectful, unhelpful, or if they feel that the service provided was below expectations.

Accept responsibility

If a customer has left a negative review, for a legitimate issue, then it doesn’t matter whether the issue was outside of your control (i.e. a supplier).

The best course of action is to take full responsibility for the situation and apologise promptly.

This will show to your prospective customers that you care about your clients

Many people actively look to review the replies of travel businesses on review platforms before making a purchase.

The customer isn’t always right

Address where you are in the wrong, but you need to take action where the reviews are untrue.

It is important to protect your brand!

Reach out to Trip Advisor for support in getting false accusations removed.

Conclusion

No travel business can afford not to maintain their reputation on TripAdvisor as it is the largest travel site in the world.

The site has an outsized impact on your customer’s travel plans and cannot be overlooked.

It is important to regularly review Trip Advisor, Trust Pilot and Feefo to ensure that your travel business is represented the way you would wish it to be.

With a little bit of effort, you can easily generate better reviews, lift your overall rankings and attract new customers.

Several travel businesses have built their business by managing their ratings, reviews and reputation on TripAdvisor, and you can emulate their success.

Further reading

15 things you didn’t know about Trip Advisor

How To Engage Your Audience and Convert Them Into Customers

The travel industry is almost contradictory in its nature.

On one hand, it is an enormous ever-growing market, which has doubled in value in just ten years, projected to generate £616 billion in 2019.

On the other hand, the service it provides is highly personal.

Travellers, now more than ever, look for unique, customised experiences, tailored to their needs.

This is becoming increasingly easy, with customers looking past packaged holidays, choosing to plan and book their holidays themselves.

Understanding this duality is crucial for today’s travel businesses to succeed.

Some have to be able to engage audiences on a personal level, on a huge scale.

This is the best way to convert your audience into paying customers.

With the market being as competitive and unforgiving as it is, there’s not a lot of margin for error.

Who are your Customers?

In order to attract and engage potential clients, you have to pinpoint their customer personas.

Assess your travel products and identify who they cater to. Are you offering experiences for adventurers, corporate travel, or  beach-resort deals for families?

There are no jack-of-all-trades travel arrangements and marketing needs to be tailored to your customer.

Personalisation is key and that requires clearly-defined buyer personas.

Fortunately, there are a lot of tools and guides that help with this important step.

It’s important to take a look at your website audience insights in Google Analytics to get an understanding of the location, demographics, activities and travel segmentation of your customers.

Understand the channels and devices your audience is using to access your business.

You should end up with a couple of personas that you can use to help guide your marketing, engagement and conversion strategies through digital channels.

Understanding your Customer’s Journey

The development of digital advertising channels has changed customer’s expectations.

Engaging visitors and acquiring customers is no longer about just being in the right place at the right time to influence their decision process.

Kantar’s study concluded that 50% of users find brand’s posts irrelevant to them.

Businesses who treat digital and online channels as another touch-point and a chance to swoop in and sell their product run the risk of further alienating an already tired audience.

It’s important to understand the customer’s decision journey end-to-end.

This process has four phases, each with its own challenges and opportunities.

Google calls them dreaming, planning, booking and experiencing micro-moments.

McKinley named them consideration, evaluation, conversion and post-purchase phases.

With the increased need for personalisation, especially in Travel & Leisure, it’s sensible to plan marketing strategies, activities and metrics for customers in each of these phases.

Let’s explore what they are and how travel companies can approach them in order to convert audiences into customers.

Consideration

At this time, travellers just have a general idea and a wish to travel.

They are still considering options, destinations and are open to suggestions.

They are not yet making decisions and shouldn’t be pressured into it.

Awareness is the name of the game here.

Any content the considering client sees should be memorable, inspiring, authentic and sincere.

Customise it with your consumer personas in mind.

Make your brand stand out.

Effective strategies include content marketing, to reach users who are in this initial consideration phase.

Engaging your audience and, eventually, boosting revenue, starts with offering value to your potential customers, at all stages of their booking journey.

Targeted blogs can reach people who are dreaming of their next adventure

It is also important to develop a strong social media presence.

To do that, we have to understand why people use social networks in the first place.

Consumers mainly use social networks to connect and converse, and to be entertained.

Value for consumers comes from getting what they want.

If they are looking for connections, conversations and entertainment, travel companies should strive to offer them exactly that.

Build emotional connections with your audience. Engage with them.

Humanise and introduce your company, initiate sincere and meaningful conversations.

Give inspiration.

  • Timing

Tourists in Britain book their holidays a month in advance (on average), but they start thinking about them a lot sooner.

It’s a good idea to start running awareness campaigns in from September onward, depending on your seasonality.

  • Define metrics

Choose statistics that can quantify and represent the success of your strategies for each phase of the consumer’s decision journey.

In the case of initial consideration, some useful metrics are engagement rate, direct, social and organic traffic, search conversion rate.

Pick those that work best with your strategy.

  • Devices

Consider the devices your customers use in different stages of their decision journey.

For example, they might be using mobile devices during the initial consideration, but switch to desktop when they decide to book.

Make sure the whole process is effectively targeted.

  • Platforms

Don’t have the same profile on all social platforms.

Utilise unique aspects of each network and make sure your content reaches its full potential.

Stand out with your visuals and raise awareness with unique solutions.

A great example of a content strategy done right is The Journal by Intrepid Travel.

When targeting travellers who are looking for unique and adventurous experiences, offer valuable and informational content, combined with a recognisable visual identity.

With 583K Facebook followers and 239K on Instagram and a very engaged audience, the approach of Intrepid seems to be working.

Evaluation and Conversion

What happens when the consumer chooses a destination?

The dream travel suddenly becomes a reality.

In the evaluation phase, audiences are no longer looking for ideas or inspiration.

They are searching for information:

  • Prices
  • Flights
  • Hotel availability
  • Holiday activities

In the conversion phase people compare information, make a decision and complete their purchase.

For a travel company, these phases are the opportunity to turn audiences into customers.

This is especially true for smaller businesses, as they usually don’t have the budget to compete with big brands’ awareness campaigns.

In the initial consideration phase, companies try to generate demand.

Now it’s time to focus on fulfilling that demand.

When a customer searches for travel products, it’s important for your company to be there with an offer.

Focusing on these micro-moments generates what you’re ultimately looking for: conversions.

Your targeting is crucial here.

We’ve talked about creating the customer persona. Utilise data you’ve gathered so far, and target your niche as precisely as you can.

Consider the channels you’ll use.

Non-branded search marketing, display re-marketing and e-mail marketing (newsletters) are recommended in the evaluation phase.

How re-marketing works

According to Google, when customers start planning the holiday, the most common searches include “hotels/car rentals/flights to destination”. Focusing on non-brand keywords enables you to show up in these searches.

E-mail marketing offers a lot of opportunities during the planning phase of the customer’s decision process.

According to MailChimp, an average 20% of only e-mails are opened, with a 2% click-through rate in the travel industry.

To maximise the effectiveness of your e-mail campaigns, try to provide value to your customers before they consider your offer.

Include tips, advice or coupon codes in your newsletters:

 

Carnival Cruise Line

Keep your e-mails short (or at least concise), to-the-point and include call-to-action prompts throughout your message.

When customers compare different products and narrow down their choices, they typically search for “[brand name] + [location].”

A sound branded SEO and SEM strategy will enable you to come up in these searches.

Metasearch presence is also becoming vital.

When customers compare different options, they typically use websites like TripAdvisor, Skyscanner or Kayak.

Being present in these searches is a fast way to become a part of your niche market.

Target customers that show interest in the products you can offer.

In order to measure the success, and possibly optimise your campaigns, defining important metrics is vital.

For demand fulfilment activities, some vital numbers are conversion rate, cost per conversion, revenue per conversion and margin.

Keep an eye out on your activities and their performance.

Don’t wait for things to start happening, change and optimise if you’re not getting the results you expect.

Another important nudge that can turn a viewer into a customer is the company’s availability for inquiries.

Businesses often forget this.

60% of customers who contact businesses on social media expect an answer within an hour and the same number would express their disappointment for the brand for not receiving a timely response.

Make sure you’re always available for customers. Beef up your customer service, where necessary.

Create FAQs, useful articles and posts that give advice on common questions, reducing the number of informational enquiries your sales team need to deal with.

Post-Purchase

The work is not complete when the customer completes a purchase.

The phase that happens after travellers book a holiday is perhaps the most important for travel companies.

Don’t let the reputation you’ve established through this whole process go to waste. Build on it.

The best marketing resource is a happy customer.

Stay in touch with them after they purchase your product. Get their feedback and understand their experience.

Personally contacting your customers will show them you care about them and increase their chances of returning to you.

We’ve talked about the need for personalisation: gather information from customers, what worked for them and what didn’t and incorporate it into your future offers.

Encourage your customers to create and post content.

Crowdsourcing your content will make your marketing more human, personal and valuable: perfect for the initial consideration phase.

Besides this, we can’t understate the importance of reviews.

83% of people booking holidays online say that reviews play a crucial role in their booking decision.

Your reputation on websites like TripAdvisor can essentially decide your revenue.

Make it easy for your customers to share their feedback and encourage them to do it with a prize if necessary.

Make sure to address all reviews, good or bad, on every online platform.

A well thought-out reply to a negative review can do more to encourage sales than a positive review ever could.

Show you appreciate your customers and you’re open to honest feedback.

Conclusion

Travel marketing is much more than just offering deals at peak times.

Successfully engaging your audience and acquiring business is a process.

It requires a deep understanding of the customer’s decision journey and the advertising techniques and strategies you can use in each of its phases.

Each part is important, as it influences what decisions customers make afterwards, and each journey is an opportunity for travel companies to attract further business.

In a vast market that Travel & Leisure is, the greatest asset you can have is understanding of your customer’s personal needs.

Equally, that is exactly what they expect from your business.

Talk To Us

Advice tailored to your website, and your resources is crucial to achieving the best possible ROI.

Get in touch with us today for a FREE, no-obligation website audit.

10 Web-Design Tips for Travel Businesses

Travel websites rely on their design, imagery, and vivid copy to convert visitors into customers.

Much has been written about the importance of engaging copy for a travel brand, but the overall design and user-experience of a travel site is often the deciding factor for a customer.

A well-designed website inspires trust from your visitors and is directly correlated to the credibility of your site.

People will book the holidays you are selling, only if they trust your brand and your website.

Web design is often a crucial factor for determining the trustworthiness and credibility of your site.

Studies suggest that almost 94% of people mistrust websites due to poor design.

Travel sites come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to web design.

It’s understood that the needs of a travel site promoting a city, or a country are going to be vastly different from those of a website selling cruise packages or offering hotel bookings.

It’s quite challenging to identify the right design elements for a travel website as it largely depends on the businesses products and target audience.

There are some crucial elements which are often associated with travel sites, such as:

  • Information about highlights at a destination (local attractions)
  • High-quality photos
  • Hotel recommendations
  • Information necessary for travelling such as maps, public transportation info and guides
  • Tips related to the local language, culture, and etiquettes
  • A summary of the destination with a list of all popular tourist attractions

Almost all travel websites have some or all the design elements listed above.

In addition to these items, we have identified some intangible factors which are a must-have for any travel site.

So, let’s see what the crucial elements are for designing a stellar travel website.

Responsive Design

In today’s world of multiple connected devices, consumers are spending more and more time on smartphones, and mobile devices play an increasingly important role in the process of booking travel packages.

Most travellers today use their smartphones, and tablets for browsing destinations, comparing various tour packages and even for booking the package.

It’s not uncommon to come across travel brands which don’t have responsive sites, which means that browsing on a mobile device is much more complicated.

If you don’t have a responsive website which can serve the same information across multiple devices in an aesthetically pleasing manner, then you are at risk of losing out customers to your competitors.

Visit Stockholm is the official site of the city of Stockholm which has done a great job of designing a mobile-optimised website.

The above image shows how their site looks on a typical desktop.

The picture below is a screenshot taken from a mobile which shows their mobile site.

As you can see, they have listed 4 areas covering Dining, Recreation, Guides, and Events at the top section of each version of their site.

After this comes some articles covering things to do in Stockholm. The site is responding to the dimensions of the device to serve content in a logical order.

Several other travel brands have similar responsive websites which are optimised for mobile users.

Use a Content Management System (CMS)

No modern travel brand can maintain an online presence without using some form of Content Management System.

It’s a good idea to build your website using an open-source content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, for several reasons.

A content management system gives you greater control over all the aspects of your website. You can edit, or modify any page, article or post on the site without any help from a website designer.

Content management systems also allow you to easily integrate visual and graphic content such as photos and videos without coding.

CMS’ like WordPress also have a vast library of both free and paid plugins which can automate any task you want. This allows you to take advantage of the work of

High-Resolution Photos and Videos

Travel brands have long known the power of high-quality images which can provide a glimpse into the experience which a traveller may have by booking a tour package or visiting a destination.

Even before the era of modern technology, most travel companies used high quality and enticing images in their marketing brochures.

Modern-day technologies have opened new avenues for travel brands as now it’s possible to use images along with videos.

Soon, prospective travellers will be able to experience their destination virtually before embarking on a journey with the help of new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.

High-resolution images and videos are an essential part of any well-designed travel site as they offer a glimpse of the experience and are often the main selling point of any tour package.

Visit Brasil, the official tourism site of Brazil is an excellent example of how to use high-resolution photos for inspiring travellers to visit.

Brazil offers some of the best attractions for tourists including Amazon Rainforests, Beaches on the Atlantic, mountain ranges etc.

Though we must not forget that Brazil is a vast country and a tourist is often confused when it comes to choosing one tourist attraction in the country over another.

Visit Brasil welcomes visitors with a beautiful image on their homepage as displayed below:

As you can see the above picture is accompanied with a prominent call to action and a visitor can get more information about Serra da Canastra by clicking on the ‘Read’ button below the main call to action.

You will come across several smaller images when you scroll down the page. These provide a glimpse into various places of interest within the country.

In the above image, this site combines the power of words with striking images in a beautiful way.

The pictures of different destinations are accompanied by small copy along with the duration and number of destinations.

Above image covers some more destinations and gives visitors the option to discover all destinations within Brazil by clicking on “See all destinations” button.

Consistent Branding

Many small travel brands make the mistake of overlooking the importance of cohesive branding.

Today a brand must maintain contact with a customer across several channels and marketing mediums including, social media profiles, email newsletters, websites, and landing pages.

You need to ensure that your brand has consistent branding across all customer touch-points.

This will make your brand appear professional and will also allow customers to quickly identify your business without effort.

Easy Navigation

Today’s consumers want to purchase with minimal effort, and this has put minimal design with ease of navigation back at the centre of the web design industry.

Travel brands need to be especially careful when it comes to website navigation as even a few unnecessary clicks may push your customers away from you.

Several travel sites have perfected their design and have become quite successful by using an easy to navigate web interface.  TripAdvisor is an excellent example of a travel brand using easy navigation.

For more information, you may read our earlier TripAdvisor Review, which discusses all the aspects of this hugely popular travel planning site.

TripAdvisor homepage as displayed in the above image has an easy to navigate interface allowing you to research hotels, things to do, restaurants, flights, holiday rentals, and cruises related to the destination of your choice.

All you need to do is to select the destination which you want to visit by clicking on the ‘Where to?’ button displayed on the homepage, and the site will give you all relevant information for your destination.

We have selected Istanbul in Turkey for our small test, and this is what TripAdvisor serves us:

As you can see from the above images, a visitor to TripAdvisor can browse tons of information about a destination by just selecting the destination.

TripAdvisor allows you to research hotels, restaurants, food tours, popular tourist attractions in a city by only a few clicks.

Many travellers know that TripAdvisor is one of the most comprehensive travel sites out there, but few know that they are mostly successful due to their website design.

Use Interactive Maps and Guides

Tourists prefer interactive maps and guides over old 2-d maps, which require a lot of effort to navigate through a city or destination.

Modern technological innovations allow travel brands to easily integrate interactive maps and guides which provide much more information to travellers than the plain paper-based maps and guides of yesterday.

Easy and Secure Booking System

The booking system also plays a crucial role in the success of any travel site as a difficult to navigate booking system is often the main reason for abandoned carts.

Most e-commerce sites have consciously made their booking process easy over the last couple of years, and travel sites are no exception to this trend.

Booking.com is a prime example of how a travel brand can build an easy and secure booking system.

Here is a screenshot of their homepage:

You will be asked to select a location along with your check-in and check-out dates. We have chosen Istanbul again to compare how this site works.

Here is what it shows once we input the destination along with the dates:

You also have the option to filter the hotels based on several filters such as your budget; breakfast included, book without credit card, apartments, hotels, star rating, distance from city, centre, fun things to do etc. as shown in the image below:

Booking.com makes the process of booking your hotel quite easy by having a well-designed booking system which allows you to get the best deals with minimal effort.

Planning Tools

Several travel brands have incorporated planning tools such as calendars, maps, into their design, and this has ensured their popularity among travellers.

TripAdvisor is primarily a site offering travel planning services, although they are known mainly as a review site focused on travel brands.

A person is going to come across TripAdvisor at several stages of their travel planning as most people read reviews of hotels, check flights, local attractions and best possible time to visit a destination through TripAdvisor.

Destination Information

Almost all the sites discussed above offer information about destinations which is sought by nearly every traveller before embarking on a journey.

Official tourism promotion sites such as Visit Brasil, review or travel planning websites such as TripAdvisor, or booking sites such as Booking.com all provide valuable information about destinations.

This is also the secret behind the success of these sites as a traveller often buys their flight tickets or book their hotel through the website which has provided him information about the destination.

By providing information about destinations free of cost, these sites are essentially increasing their revenue and profits.

Call-to-Action

Call to actions motivates users to take advantage of exclusive deals and are often the deciding factor due to the psychological effect which they have on a person while he is making a purchase.

You can significantly boost your conversion rate by incorporating call to actions in your website’s design at appropriate places.

Why You Need To Manage Your Businesses Online Reputation

The tourism industry, like several other service-based industries, has been disrupted with the rise of Internet.

Modern telecommunications have fundamentally altered the face of tourism.

Previously, tourists didn’t have access to the kind of information which we have today, and this allowed tourism brands with poor services to escape punishment for their poor practices.

Things are much different now.

Even a single review by an unsatisfied customer has the potential to destroy your reputation.

Online travel sites such as TripAdvisor, along with review sites such as Yelp, have spearheaded this change.

Most tourism brands can now no longer provide shoddy service without incurring the wrath of consumers and seeing a correlated reduction in sales.

Most travel brands have slowly awakened to the need for managing their online reputation proactively.

In this article we will discuss why travel brands need to manage their online reputation and will also share some tips for managing your online reputation.

The Role of Review and Booking Sites

Millennials are already the largest living generation in the world, and this demographic has been the lifeline for tourism industry for several years now.

In terms of buying habits, they differ significantly from previous generations and are known to pay close attention to online reviews and ratings before making a purchase decision.

TrustYou, a leading guest feedback and hotel reputation software provider recently conducted a study in partnership with IUBH International University of Applied Sciences and travel company TUI to analyse the booking behaviour of Millennials and Gen Z travellers.

They discovered that this demographic pays close attention to past reviews and customer ratings before booking a hotel, cruise or tour package.

According to their findings, 83% of travellers say that reviews play an essential role in their booking decision.

The image above shows the relevance of online reviews for booking decisions.

59% say that reviews are quite important, while another 24% consider online reviews to be very important for their booking.

A high number of travellers also read several reviews during the research phase to decide which hotel or tour package to book.

Almost 38% of travellers read anywhere between 6 and 10 reviews before making a booking decision, while 31% read 1 to 5 reviews.

These stats show the critical role played by online reviews in any purchase decision.

Many travellers decide against booking a hotel or tour package if the service provider has a number of poor reviews.

Reviews now receive more exposure as they are promoted in search engine results, with Google displaying relevant businesses in response to a search query.

We typed the top tour agency in London and Google displayed the following results:

These star rating provide a great way to be noticed. However they will also publicise a poor online reputation.

You would be far more likely to select ‘Evan Evans Tours‘ over ‘Euro Creative Tours‘ based upon the number of reviews in Google.

In our example search, business listings are shown even above text-based organic listings along with the ratings and reviews for each business.

Your reviews may be the first thing a potential customer sees about you.

Most online rating platforms including Google Maps, TripAdvisor, or Yelp allow anyone to leave a review.

Your business can be reviewed online even if it’s not listed with the website and there’s been no prior communication to you..

Travel booking sites such as TripAdvisor, Booking.com or Expedia can have an outsized impact on your business.

TripAdvisor is a good case in point, and we have covered this in detail in our Complete Guide to TripAdvisor for Travel Businesses in 2019.

TripAdvisor is among the most trusted source of information for travellers, and it has an unmatched library of content about almost all holiday destinations.

The site is visited by more than 500 million users each month and is estimated to influence nearly 10% of the global tourism industry.

It is far too important to be ignored.

Travellers pay close attention to what past customers have to say about your business.

It’s hard to imagine a purchase of any service with reviews such as these…

Or…

It’s natural to get at least some bad reviews as you just can’t please everyone! The more high-end your product, the higher your customer’s expectations will be.

But how you respond to the complaint can be especially important to managing your online reputation.

With a proactive approach, you can mitigate the impact of the negative reviews which your business gets.

Online Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management refers to the practice of managing the customer’s perception of your brand, with the goal of showing your brand in a positive light and minimising the impact of negative opinion.

ORM can be considered a part of PR or Marketing, with online reviews, blogs and comments playing the role that brochures, flyers, and banners once did.

Online reputation management consists of several steps:

Audit Your Online Reputation

Your first step is to conduct an in-depth audit of the customer reviews and ratings which your past customers have left on popular online platforms.

An audit will help you in identifying the issues which are bothering your customers and allow you to make steps to action change.

Work on ALL Major Review Sites

In today’s digital world, anyone can list your business on popular business directories or listing sites, and you need to claim your business as soon as possible.

List your business on sites such as:

Respond to ALL Bad Reviews

Online users today expect a response to a negative review quickly.

Not replying to bad reviews shows your brand as insensitive to  your customer’s feedback.

24% of users who have contacted a brand on social media, expect a reply within 30 Minutes, regardless of when the contact was made.

57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours! (source: www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research/42-percent-of-consumers-complaining-in-social-media-expect-60-minute-response-time)

However, a bad review, dealt with well, can be more beneficial than a positive review.

Many brands have successfully improved their online reputation by engaging with their users on social media platforms.

Answering the points raised and highlighting the steps made to improve the business as a result of the feedback, show potential customers that your business has improved since the poor review was left.

Use Online Monitoring Tools

Due to the high number of sites which allow customers to review a business, it may become quite challenging to monitor your reputation manually, especially without a dedicated resource in your team/business.

Thankfully, there are several ‘listening’ tools available to marketers which make the task of monitoring your online reputation easy.

These monitor when someone mentions your brand online as these tools allow you to monitor dozens of review sites simultaneously.

You can choose a listening tool from several available ones such as:

Conclusion

The rapid rise of online media has made it easier for anyone to review a business online.

Businesses can no longer remain bystander and need to pro-actively manage their online reputations.

This is especially important for travel brands as a vast majority of buyers say that online reviews and ratings of a travel brand play an important role in their booking decisions.

In this article, we have highlighted the importance of online reputation management and have also included some tips along with some tools which will help you manage the online reputation of your travel brand.