The TripAdvisor Popularity Index is becoming a critical metric for many hotels. Based on traveler feedback, a property’s ranking on the Popularity Index reflects how it compares to other hotels within a geographic area. Hotels that are closer to the top of the list are more likely to be seen when prospective guests search for hotels in the area.
TripAdvisor says that the Popularity Index algorithm is based on three key ingredients: the quality, quantity, and recency of reviews. It also tells us on its Insights blog, “We take content integrity very seriously and screen every review. If you are caught breaking our guidelines, it can take a big hit on your popularity ranking.”
But, TripAdvisor does not disclose all the elements of the Popularity Index algorithm. It also doesn’t tell us the weighting of each factor. For example, it doesn’t tell us whether a property’s average review score or the total number of reviews are more important. So, we decided to do a little digging: What exactly do you, as a hotelier, need to know to learn how to improve your ranking on TripAdvisor?
What exactly affects your hotel’s TripAdvisor score?
The results of our research aren’t entirely conclusive, but they give us a better idea of how the Popularity Index works. Our data scientists looked at the data on the Bangkok market–our customers and their competitive sets. We found for the Bangkok market:
- 1 extra point on average review score will, on average, increase Popularity Index rank by 321 places.
- 1 extra review will increase Popularity Index rank 1.5 places.
When calculating ranking, TripAdvisor weights a property’s average review score 20,000 times more than its total number of reviews. So, if your average review score stayed the same and you only increased the volume of reviews, it would take 2,1400 reviews to increase your rank by the same amount as one average review point.
Based on our data in the Bangkok market, we were able to come up with a rough approximation of weighting. From what we can tell, the average review score of a property counts for 85% of the Popularity Index ranking. The total volume of reviews counts for 6% of the property’s ranking. 9% is left unexplained.
We can speculate that some of this 9% is recency of reviews. This can also be where TripAdvisor factors in punitive action for violations of its guidelines, and it can include factors that are yet unknown to the general public.
What are the key takeaways?
To move up on the Popularity Index, improving customer experience is far more important than getting a greater volume of reviews. But don’t forget: As a function of averages, it is more difficult to improve your ranking on the Popularity Index as you climb the scale. So, if you’re already trending toward the top of your market, it may be necessary to get a greater quantity of recent reviews in order to dominate your competition.
How to improve your ranking on TripAdvisor
While it’s important to get as much guest feedback as possible, it is much more important to listen to your guests and operationalize their feedback. TripAdvisor says, “The key to building a successful business and a higher popularity ranking is stellar hospitality and paying attention to your customers’ needs. Encourage customers to write reviews, learn from them and watch your hard work pay off.”