Washington Post: “How TripAdvisor altered your vacation-planning universe”

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Washington Post run a story yesterday about TripAdvisor and how it has altered the way people search and share their travel experiences.

Washington Post How TripAdvisor altered your vacation-planning universe

TripAdvisor is the 800-pound-gorilla that many travel providers have love/hate relationship with. It provides feedback from guests while it may not always be what the businesses would like to hear.

You can access the entire Washington Post piece here.

“TripAdvisor has freed me from dependence on any individual or company that wants to profit from my choices,” said Ginny Cunningham, who has used the site for more than a decade. “Frommer’s, Fodor’s and travel agents are great, but they’re exceedingly limited in the real-life feedback they offer.”

TripAdvisor certainly profits from the reviews, as it gets paid by hotel booking and other services for leads. The company has also started to sell direct bookings on its website. Not sure if you can still call them neutral third party?

Because anyone can post, the personal information adds a layer of credibility to a platform susceptible to fraud. (On Booking.com, which displays 50 million reviews, the company verifies the individual’s status as hotel guest before allowing him or her to upload a critique. On Travelocity, only guests who have booked the hotel on the site can submit one.) Overly gushy or vindictive comments ring alarms that a business has orchestrated its own good press or sullied a competitor’s reputation. Firms also approach property owners and offer to write glowing remarks for a fee.

Many hotel chains now collect reviews from guests that have booked directly. IHG and SPG are two doing this. Not sure why Accor wants to drive traffic to TripAdvisor after each of my stay requesting me to leave a review there?

Another focus: personalization. With “Just for You,” TripAdvisor offers hotel suggestions based on the user’s predilections and research on the site. The more you share, the sharper the recommendations. Medros assured me that the tool wasn’t surveillance-style creepy.

I cannot stand this “Just for You” and never ending emails if I happen to check some city on TripAdvisor while logged in.

Bueno’s level of engagement is the norm. The Mayflower, a few blocks from the White House, has a front-office team that responds to reviews within two days. Staff at the JW Marriott Miami addresses reviews daily. Hilton Worldwide devised a strategy for handling social media and TripAdvisor comments. The pillars are pay attention, respond and resolve.

Many chains suggest that properties should respond to less than stellar reviews usually within 48 hours. Worst responses are those left my the chain (IHG Care) when the hotel itself doesn’t care enough.

Conclusion

I do some hotel reviews on TripAdvisor every once in a while. Usually when the experience is far better or worse than my expectation.

TripAdvisor is a worthwhile tool if you don’t take it too seriously. IMHO it is better at identifying hotels/restaurants with good price to quality ratio than the absolute best ones in any market. If you are going to a less well known destination, the best hotel in the city could be a hostel according to TripAdvisor….

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