Adrian Loveridge’s Tourism Matters: Ignore online tourism reviews at our peril.

TripAdvisor – the power of your neighbour’s opinion

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

When I read in the largest circulation travel trade publication recently, a direct quote attributed to one of our most prominent hoteliers, my first response was to cringe.

He stated ‘TripAdvisor is sort of a menace…. because it’s hard to get people to go online to post good comments’.

Hopefully this is entirely a personal view and is not being adopted in any national tourism policy.

‘Menace’ or not, TripAdvisor, already the world’s largest travel site, went into history last month by becoming the first travel brand to have more than 40 million unique visitors in one month. So far this year, the site has experienced a 60 per cent growth.

TripAdvisor is currently available in 14 languages, across 23 countries worldwide, so it is present in every marketplace that Barbados is targeting.

It’s not likely to go away in the foreseeable future, and that is why more and more hotel groups together with individual properties are learning to embrace the reality and maximise the phenomenal potential.

French based Accor, operating under the Novotel, Sofitel and Mercure brands worldwide, now have a TripAdvisor link on the dedicated websites of each of its 4,000-plus hotels.

So prior to booking any one of their hotels, a discerning traveller can read previous guests reviews.

Of course, this is a move not without risk, with no guarantee the reviews that come up will be positive.

The power of user-generated content

Director of Marketing, quality and consumer product for Accor, Claire Wearne, says ‘the company’s decision to work with TripAdvisor is recognition of the power of user-generated content’.

‘Hotels have only two choices: work with online reviews or ignore them at their peril’.

‘We appreciate that the decision making of our guests is no longer limited to information in our brochure’.

She added ‘you can’t get much better than honest transparent feedback’ and ‘Is there a better way for a General Manager to really
understand what a guest thinks?’.

False and malicious postings a concern

There is naturally a downside. Malicious or false postings are a concern. Our hotel has personally encountered two.

The first still remains on our TripAdvisor listing page, written by a guest who stated that they stayed with us when we were actually closed. The second from a guest that did stay with us and then wrote a completely untrue posting. We contacted the Content Integrity department at TripAdvisor and after verification, they removed the objectionable comments.

Currently around 700 hotels, bed and breakfasts and innkeepers are threatening action for slander against TripAdvisor according to the UK Guardian newspaper.

One individual case that hit the headlines recently, involved a couple that were evicted from a hotel by the owner for writing a poor review. Go onto the TripAdvisor site and you will see that 40 per cent of the persons that posted reviews on this hotel would not recommend
this property to a friend.

It’s clear that there are always two sides to a story or posting and the vast majority of people understand this.

The big danger is that during this global economic recession that hotels cut back in quality deliverance and service standards and this severely impacts on the guest experience and subsequently any negative comments they make.

It is also vital that managers regularly check TripAdvisor to quickly address critical comments, that in some cases seem to occur unresolved again and again.

6 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

6 responses to “Adrian Loveridge’s Tourism Matters: Ignore online tourism reviews at our peril.

  1. ANASTASIA BEAVERNHOUSEN

    I am a victim of trip advisor. By victim I mean I read up about the destination and hotel that I intend to stay at. The question is; do I listen and take “everything to heart” that I read posted by someone else. HELL NO. People will never be happy or contented unless they have something negative to say. Most of the time, I never experience the “problems” people tend to say they had. The difference between them and me, is that if I pay for a 3 star resort; that’s what I’m expecting! People think they could pay for a 3 star, but get 5 star service; not going to happen. Also, try being nice to everyone you meet while visiting “THEIR” island/country. It will make for a better vacation.

  2. Peltdownman

    Adrian
    Is the hotelier allowed to comment on Trip Adviser (TA)also? For example, if an adverse comment is made and found to be correct, would it not be good PR to go on TA and thank the guest for the comment and state that the matter has been addressed?

  3. Adrian Loveridge

    Peltdownman,

    Absolutely, and I wish more hoteliers would do this.
    The VAST majority of guests are reasonable people and know things can happen on occasions.
    They want to know that you are interested in them and are at least attempting to fix any problems/deficiencies.
    It is clear to me that some hoteliers (no names) do NOT check their TripAdvisor listing often enough and you can see the same old issues arise week after week.

  4. gg

    G-Day Adrian,

    Are there any job vacancies for Chefs in Barbados? I think Barbados free press should promote jobs for Bajans.

  5. yatinkiteasy

    I believe Trip Advisor is useful, but that it can also be used by Properties in an insidious manner to achieve high ratings. This is done by using fake guests who post glowing reports of the property. Remember, one individual can have numerous email addresses, from which he /she can post , using numerous Trip Advisor sign in names.

    As a matter of interest, Buccament Bay Resort in St Vincent (Harlequin group that is opening Merricks in Barbados) is now the no 1 rated Hotel in St Vincent, after having only a “soft opening ” in August this year.
    Almost all of the fantastic reviews are from someone who has 1.Travelled to several other Caribbean resorts, or even world resorts.and 2. Never experienced such great service, luxury ,great food, etc.
    Yet if you look at the guests` profiles…they have only ONE Review on Trip Advisor, and under “places visted ” on their profile……guess what, ONLY St Vincent Grenadines. Now is that not very strange.
    I say that everyone of those reviews is a carefully executed PR campaign by Harlequin Properties to boost the image of a half finished resort in St Vincent, where a black beach has been converted to a white sand beach with imported sand.Who runs this “5 star Resort”..
    Its unbelievable that the Barbados Government and some of its prominent citizens have swallowed their story and believe that Merricks will ever be anything. Why don’t they ask to have a tour or weekend stay at Buccament. Its been 4 or 5 years in the making, and its a joke. Yet they promise Merricks Phase one in a year? Yuh making sport.
    I would not put a dime in Merricks.
    Incidentally, try to book a room at Buccament Bay from now until March next year through Expedia or any other travel site.. Nothing!
    Its all BS.

  6. iWatchya

    Online marketing is indeed an avenue that most of BIM has left alone. It it an inexpensive means of keeping in touch with repeat customers and simple advertising.

    Another avenue is the ease of data collection regarding customer feedback on services rendered and promotions offered.