Recently, I read an article discouraging hoteliers from posting a website link to TripAdvisor or posting TripAdvisor reviews via the TripAdvisor widget on their website. In my opinion, making broad statements like this, is absolutely absurd and demonstrates a lack of understanding how and why people choose a hotel online.
Posting a Link to Your Page on TripAdvisor
The article states: "Have you looked at your property page and your customer reviews on TripAdvisor lately? Have you noticed that the page is full of advertisements by all major online travel agencies (OTA's), all the major hotel brands, and many of your competitors?" The article further suggests "By linking from your hotel website to TripAdvisor, you are actively encouraging your potential customers to book with the OTA's or someone else." Get a grip! This is a naive and silly statement.
Do you think that maybe one of the reasons for the number of ads on the TripAdvisor is due to the tremendous popularity of the site? Does this mean that media advertising is bad because there are ads by other hotels and OTA's in the same publication? An ostrich hides by sticking his head in the sand; maybe we should just pretend that OTA's and other hotels don't exist.
Consider this: If potential guests click to your hotel's TripAdvisor postings from your website, could it mean that they really want to see how your hotel scores among former guests? Do you think that the absence of a link on your site will dissuade visitors from checking out your hotel on TripAdvisor? Experts agree that the majority of travelers will checkout TripAdvisor before or after making a reservation.
Your "guest-record" of facilities and service on TripAdvisor could be one of your hotel's best sales assets. If your hotel's over-all record on TripAdvisor is very poor, you have much bigger problems than having people viewing other ads on TripAdvisor.
Using the TripAdvisor Widget on Your Website
I believe that this is the better way to have former guests promote your hotel, but their article discourages this too.
The article states that there is "official and unofficial" web content; what the heck is this? The article states that official content is the "website's descriptions of the hotel facilities and services". If hotel websites were considered fully credible to site visitors, TripAdvisor would have no meaning or interest to travelers. This is nonsense.
The article further states that "unofficial content are customer reviews and postings on social media". Unofficial? My bet is that former guest comments have much more credibility than hotel site content. That is one of the reasons why TripAdvisor is so popular among travelers. Sticking your head in the sand by attempting to "hide" sites like TripAdvisor just doesn't pass the marketing smell-test.
Lack of Control over Customer Reviews
You have control over customer reviews by providing clean facilities and excellent service. If you stumble, as all hotels do from time to time, a well-written response to a negative comment is your strongest sales tool. The article says " no hotel will ever publish a negative customer review on its website" (by the way, in the hotel industry, we refer to these as "guests, not customers"). In actuality, the truth will set you free. The fact is that most comments are positive; negative comments with a well-composed answer can be just as strong as a positive comment.
Don't kid yourself; TripAdvisor can be a strong sales tool for driving online sales. When some people cease to consider TripAdvisor and similar travel social media as evil, these hoteliers will begin to understand what powerful sales tools guest comments can be. Third-party endorsements of your product and service , on your hotel's website, are powerful; use them.
Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Hotel Marketing Coach
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