Travel review web sites and hotel reviews on online travel agencies are among the most influential forces most frequently cited by travelers when shopping. User generated content is so important and it is here to stay, it helps people to make their decisions, TripAdvisor definitely takes the lead with more than 50 million unique monthly visitors, 20 million members, and over 50 million reviews and opinions. The sites operate in 30 countries worldwide containing 1 million+ hotel, restaurants and attractions in 90,000 destinations.
In this interview Karen Plumb shares with us in the power of TripAdvisor and the value it can bring to businesses. Also Karen gives us insights about the new partnerships TripAdvisor is having with local search sites and directories to empower businesses.
Mohamed: Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Karen: I have a background in hotel marketing, having worked at both InterContinental and Thistle Hotels, where I held a variety of international eMarketing and International Marketing roles. I have also worked before in an online company at CheapFlights running the consumer email product and the hotel website, CheapAccommodation.com. I love working in the online travel environment and TripAdvisor is a great place to be.
Mohamed: How do you encourage users to post reviews? Do you run any sort of incentive programs that strengthen customer loyalty?
Karen: TripAdvisor has added badging to the site to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of our active community of reviewers. These badges serve as just one more way users can determine which reviews are most relevant to their trip-planning experience.
The first badge is given after three reviews and users that have contributed over 50 reviews receive a gold badge and a Top Contributor designation.
In our management centre, we provide owners with tools and widgets to encourage guests to write reviews following their stay.
Mohamed: Independent travelers value TripAdvisor as a research tool to find the best hotels that fit their needs and meet their budgets. Are you thinking about building a tool that would allow users to compare hotels to help them in the decision making?
Karen: TripAdvisor is constantly searching for new ways to improve its websites to continue to help travellers plan and have the perfect trip. Users can search for hotels by relevant categories and read reviews by like-minded travellers to find the right hotel to suit their needs. Each review is also broken down into detail with travellers rating hospitality businesses on a number of factors, allowing users to make an informed decision during their holiday planning.
Mohamed: What’s your value proposition for the hotel owners? What types of hotels would benefit most by having a commercial business listing on TripAdvisor?
Karen: Whilst being listed on TripAdvisor is free for properties we offer the Business Listings product to enables accommodation providers to add direct contact details on all TripAdvisor website domains as well as TripAdvisor’s mobile website to convert our highly qualified traffic into direct bookings. . Accommodation providers can add their phone number, email address and website homepage to their listing as well as posting a special offer to gain additional attention
The benefit of a TripAdvisor Business Listing is that it is on a page where viewers come to look at guest ratings, reviews and photos of a specific property. According to a Forrester survey in 2007, 87% of consumers looking for hotels are influenced by reviews and want to read them before they book. If a hotel has put in the hard work to earn good reviews from their guests, a Business Listing will allow the hotel to capitalise on them.
Mohamed: Recently you have expanded in many new countries in the Middle East and have announced partnership with Yellow Medya in Turkey. How is this going to help both the hotel owners and the end users in Turkey?
Karen: Yellow Medya will be integrating TripAdvisor onto all of its platforms, including online and mobile. By doing so, users of Yellow Medya platforms will have access to TripAdvisor reviews and opinions for accommodations, restaurants, attractions and all hospitality businesses currently listed on TripAdvisor websites. In addition in the coming months Yellow Medya are helping TripAdvisor populate our database to ensure that every tourism business in Turkey is represented and can benefit from the global coverage TripAdvisor can offer.
Yellow Medya will also be offering a TripAdvisor Business Listings Programme, encouraging accommodation businesses in Turkey to adopt the Business Listings product.
We believe adoption of Business Listings within the Turkish hospitality industry will help businesses gain more visibility in front of our large community of travellers.
Mohamed: What is the most requested feature by the users that is not ready yet on TripAdvisor? What are the new things that you are introducing to TripAdvisor in 2012?
Karen: Earlier this year, TripAdvisor launched a new integration with Facebook that instantly personalizes the site for each person who visits, surfacing trusted reviews from friends, most popular destinations among friends, and an interactive social map.
Now when travelers come to TripAdvisor websites, while logged into Facebook, they will see the activities their friends have shared first, helping them to make more informed decisions when planning their own trip.
In addition our award winning mobile site and apps are becoming increasingly popular enabling travelers to research their trip whilst on the move.
Want to learn more about this subject? Visit TripAdvisor for Business Blog where there are lots of information on how accommodation providers can get the most out of TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor® is the world’s largest travel site, enabling travelers to plan and have the perfect trip. TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travelers and a wide variety of travel choices and planning features (including Flights search, TripAdvisor Mobile and TripAdvisor Trip Friends) with seamless links to booking tools.