Each month, hundreds of millions of users visit TripAdvisor to plan travel getaways. This is a massive, receptive audience that all travel-focused businesses should be eager to reach and engage. The best way to dominate your travel business’ niche on TripAdvisor is to appear in search results on the site—and the key to ranking at or towards the top of results is to have a lot of great customer reviews.
Dominating your niche on TripAdvisor can supercharge your business pipeline, but overpowering your competitors won’t just happen naturally. You need to be generating customer reviews more quickly than other companies in your niche—and you need to be getting more stars in each review than they are.
The following five tips will arm you with the strategies you need to dominate your niche on TripAdvisor by generating rapid, high-quality customer reviews.
1.Have a great product and great customer service.
It might sound silly or simplistic, but this is the most critical step to getting great customer reviews.
There's a lot that you can do with clever tricks and tools (and we’ll get into those below), but on a basic level: don’t misrepresent your product or service. It can be tempting, especially for holidays and other popular travel times, to put a little “gloss” on your offering—but this can backfire and set back your marketing efforts. Instead, avoid setting up false expectations by representing your product in its best light, accurately.
Second, when it in terms of customer service, if a customer does become unhappy, don't let the issue linger to the point where they actually leave a negative review on your TripAdvisor page. Solve the problem directly with the customer while they're with you. Solve it as quickly as possible, so that they become happy and satisfied again with your service. This way, you’ve cut off a source of negative reviews through great customer service.
2.Use a reputation management tool.
From GradeUs to Podium to Whitespark, there are a number of reputation management tools to consider as you plan to up your TripAdvisor game. (In the video above, we’re scrolling through BrightLocal’s comparison of popular tools.) These software tools help you manage both the quantity and quality of reviews that come in for your business.
Reputation management tools help increase the quantity of reviews you receive by reducing friction, making it easier for customers to leave reviews through automated email requests. And they also solve for quality, by essentially filtering out customers that may leave a negative review.
Each software is a little bit different, but they work in a similar way initially: they ask users how likely they are to recommend your product or something similar. If the user scores you, for example, seven or above (or whatever you set as parameters), the software will prompt them to share their review publicly on TripAdvisor or elsewhere. But if they score you, for example, six or below, it will prompt them to send you private feedback instead. This goes a long way towards safeguarding your TripAdvisor page against negative reviews and keeping the quality of your reviews consistently high.
Technically, TripAdvisor discourages the use of reputation management software. However, it’s simply not realistic for TripAdvisor or other platforms to police their use. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is appropriate for your business or not. If you're consistently awesome, perhaps you don't even need to control for negative reviews.
3.Incentivize customers to give feedback.
This is great strategy for increasing the quantity of your reviews. As such, it is not relevant for every business—for example, if 50% of your customers are already leaving you reviews, this tactic probably doesn't make sense.
However, if you're getting reviews from only 15% of customers or fewer, then offering some kind of incentive is a powerful way to drive up the number of reviews you generate, which is a cornerstone of rising in the rankings on TripAdvisor and therefore driving more business.
For the incentive, consider doing a prize draw. The ultimate customer reward should be something that fits your brand and fits your audience, in order to most effectively nudge them towards participating.
We should note again here that using incentives to prompt customers to leave feedback is technically against TripAdvisor’s rules. However, like with reputation management software, incentivizing reviews is a widespread practice that’s very hard to police. So again, it's up to you to decide whether this is appropriate for your business.
4.Optimize your review generation system.
Beyond tools like reputation management software, there are plenty of tangible ways to remove friction from the customer review process. Having a system and internal processes that your staff can follow, that work for your business and your customers, are key to increasing the volume of reviews you’re getting.
The best way to optimize your review generation system depends on your unique business, but there are some universal tips that you should consider.
First, ask for reviews in person if you can. If you've got a lot of contact time with your customers, then you can definitely make the request face-to-face. Do it at the end of the experience—at that pinnacle point when people are really loving you—and enable customers to leave a review immediately. For example, let them know that you have already sent them the review link by email and that the review is easy to complete.
Second, perfect your pitch for customer reviews. Perhaps this includes offering a customer incentive! And train your staff to execute the pitch flawlessly.
And finally, assess your review generation system regularly. You may need to do this every week or every month, depending on how quickly you turn over new customers. Whatever the frequency, you should sit down with your customer-facing staff and look at ways to make the system work better, so you do actually get the reviews that you want and need. The specifics are going to vary from case to case, but regardless you should troubleshoot, be creative, and problem solve. Maybe you want to tweak the wording on your link. Maybe you want to rearrange the order of the questions. Find what works and go with it.
5.Act on your reviews to improve your product.
This suggestion circles back to our first point, which is that to dominate your niche on TripAdvisor, you need to have a great offering and great customer service. The quality and quantity of your reviews matter for TripAdvisor search rankings, yes, but they also are a fantastic source of information about the details of your product or service that your customers aren't perfectly satisfied with.
If you can pick up on the trends in your reviews and use those to inform your product development, you’re putting yourself in a great place to drive even more high-quality reviews and to draw repeat customers and customer referrals in the future.
If you have any questions or you want to work on improving your company’s search rankings in TripAdvisor, shoot an email to BlueWing founder Steven Aguiar: firstname.lastname@example.org.