The Obsession with TripAdvisor
Last week I got a call from a client that wanted to discuss the hotel’s popularity index score on TripAdvisor. He wanted me to make sure we were accurately reporting the number because he had a hard time believing that despite all their efforts to focus on reviews, they weren’t seeing a big uptick on TripAdvisor. I assured him the numbers were correct and explained the popularity index as best I could.
TripAdvisor’s algorithm for determining the popularity index score takes into account quantity and quality of TripAdvisor reviews, guidebook ratings and comments from all over the Web. According to TripAdvisor, “the algorithm weights more recent information more heavily.” It’s a black-box algorithm meaning there’s no way to really figure out how much weight each carries and what other factors might go into the mix. It’s incredibly frustrating for diligent hoteliers, especially those at luxury properties that set goals to be at the top of the popularity index and find that they are being beaten by two star hotels.
In this client’s case, the market contains almost 200 hotels and his comp set, made up of four and five star hotels, ranges from 25 to 78. The number one hotel in this market is a Super 8. The number two hotel in the market is another Super 8. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Super 8 but when you operate a four-star hotel in a major metropiolitan city, it must be very frustrating to see your hotel rank below a budget chain. In fact, The Four Seasons, which I think everyone would agree rates incredibly high in guest satisfaction and exceeding customer expectations is only at 25.
So what should a hotel do in light of the algorithm? Here is some advice:
- Don’t give up hope. You can improve your score by encouraging reviews and making sure you deliver a great guest experience. Don’t become fixated on TripAdvisor. You will drive yourself crazy trying to figure it all out.
- Remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Check your score every week or so, but not every day or you’ll lose your mind.
- Don’t forget that a Four Seasons customer isn’t going to stay at Super 8 because it rates higher on TripAdvisor.
Finally, if you can help it, don’t set goals based on your popularity index score. It’s smarter to set goals based on a transparent number that doesn’t include a dash of mystery. Instead, set a goal to always rate higher than your comp set average across the top ten review sites, or even on TripAdvisor. Revinate clients can easily track their success using the Rating Trend report.
And most importantly, don’t forget that ratings are extremely important, but don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. Focus on quality and great reviews will follow.