Social media sites are changing the marketing landscape for many industries. One example is the travel and tourism sector, which is now heavily dependent on user generated reviews from TripAdvisor.com.
People generally look at TripAdvisor.com prior to booking/leaving for a holiday to see how other people rate their experience of the country, hotel and even local attractions and restaurants.
Whilst it gives you a good indication of the overall rating, I would personally recommend being more cautious whilst reading individual reviews.
My fiancée (at the time) and I decided to have a ‘cheap’ holiday last September and looked for last minute deals. We didn’t have much money to spend and our expectations were realistic for the money we did have. We like to get out and explore so we saw the hotel as a place for us to rest our heads.
We opted for a 2* hotel in Malta which was only charging £10/night, which we thought was an absolute bargain! However, before our trip I read through many individual reviews on TripAdvisor and came away feeling deflated and pessimistic about being able to have a good holiday.
When we arrived, sure the hotel was on a similar par to a hostel. At no point did it promise 5* luxury and after having read all those awful reviews we were actually nicely surprised to find a decent room with a bed that was comfortable and clean – what more can you expect when you’re paying that little? I think people were expecting the Ritz from the way they were complaining…
I personally question the usefulness of TripAdvisor for these reasons:
- More people are likely to post a review if they have a complaint to make
- Reviews are posted from travellers all around the world, therefore there are many different cultures, ages, expectations and budgets – all of which could have an effect on how they rate service, cleanliness, value and sleep quality
- Because of ‘some’ people’s behaviour when visiting another country and how respectful they’ve been themselves as this can have an effect on how they were treated
- Some reviews are by anonymous users – should they not be required to verify they actually stayed there?
- Also, the resort might be using their staff to post bogus reviews on competitors – whilst TripAdvisor try and police this it is impossible for them to control
When user generated content is so subjective, it is important to look deeper in to how the Hotel/Resort/Restaurant actually respond to any negative reviews and how they engage or apologise to those that have had a bad experience. I personally believe this is a much better indication of whether you have booked well, as a good hotel is one that is proud of its reputation regardless of their market positioning.
For Hoteliers, Resorts and Hotel Chains, maintaining TripAdvisor.com is a job in itself. Most have a social media strategy in which a dedicated marketing team are working to protect and manage their reputation. If you need any assistance with your own social media strategy please give me a call on 01242 254242, or alternatively, view the work we have done for WorldHotels.