This simple guide will focus on utilising the free aspects of TripAdvisor and how to get the most out of it.
The thing to remember is TripAdvisor is a platform for ‘travellers’ to share their experiences which has grown into an empire of marketing and sometimes harsh words. If you are a business in the tourism, hospitality or leisure industry, your guests can list you, rate you and write whatever they want without your consent.
This should not put you off. It is a great tool that will reach out to a huge network of potential new guests or customers with over 300 million users a month.
The first thing when setting up a TripAdvisor listing is to check if you are already listed, simply type in your name. If you don’t appear then no one has listed you yet and you can do it yourself but it is suggested you try a few variations of your name.
TripAdvisor will ask you to verify your business, this process varies and more than likely will be via your mobile (they will send a text with a code) or with a credit or bank card (no charge will be made).
You also need to have your own member account. This is a personal account, you might already have one if you have ever used TripAdvisor to leave a review of somewhere you have stayed. Just go to www.tripadvisor.com and click ‘join’ in the top right-hand corner.
Manage your listing
Once you are up and running you can input general information to distinguish your business including the name, location, amenities, a description and photos.
A few simple things to remember
- Keep the description short and punchy
- Ensure that your primary photo is your best
- Reply to your reviews and make the responses personal
- Utilise many of the free tools available that will automatically send emails to your departing guests
- Use the free widgets on your website
See also: A guide to useful business apps
TripAdvisor has an algorithm that defines the way in which our searches appear. This is simply the quality and quantity of reviews. Therefore, encouraging your guests to leave reviews will improve your searchability.
Should I upgrade to a paid listing?
A paid listing offers many more features such as:
- Displaying your contact details inc. website
- Advertising special offers
- Utilise ‘click to call’
It will have no impact on your ranking however as this will continue to be graded based on the quantity of comments and quality of reviews.
If you have a free listing, TripAdvisor is likely to contact you to upgrade. The first year will probably be very reasonably priced but this may increase in year two, just remember you do not have to continue to have a paid listing. There is no set cost for a business listing, it will vary from business to business and is negotiable. You can also use instant booking through TripAdvisor without having a business page.
Other free marketing platforms
Google Business and Facebook are also free platforms which allow you to advertise with your phone number, address and website. Guests can leave reviews too. Just be careful here, make sure that all of your information matches and is up to date.
Facebook can be a vulnerable area and some people do make negative comments but respond professionally, as you would on TripAdvisor, with one well-constructed response.
See also: Five free forms of marketing
Don’t forget Twitter, great for showcasing what you do and for giving quick updates. All of this can be a lot to manage but once you get the hang of it, it can become fun.
What to do if it all goes wrong
There’s not much you can do if you receive a bad review. However, the key here is responding swiftly and professionally.
Understandably, this business is probably your pride and joy, it could be your own home or you directly that the comments are aimed at, and this is likely to hurt a lot.
Take time to construct a professional and understanding response, and ask a colleague or friend to read through the response before you post it. In this industry, we say ‘the customer is always right’ and it can be very hard to bite your tongue at times but it is possible to turn a negative into a positive with a simple gesture.
For example, something as simple as the fire alarm going off in the middle of the night could be solved with a free paper delivered to the room in the morning, this along with the terrible weather (not your fault) could have prevented a potentially bad review.
Perhaps the stay just wasn’t what your guests expected, and even if you really don’t agree, a phone call or a letter could really make them realise that it wasn’t so bad and remember all the excellent factors such as the amazing views.
The short and long of it is, there is too much information out there and you really do have to work at it to be seen amongst the sea of review and booking sites.
The online world is fast-paced but imperative in marketing your business today.