(ARTICLE UPDATED in October, 2021)
Editor's Note: Originally published in November 2019, this post has been completely updated and refurbished for comprehensiveness, accuracy and relevance.
What's in it for me?
Your complete handbook on improving your hotel's online ranking on a platform like TripAdvisor. Learn how to improve your bubble ratings by getting more reviews, providing a great guest experience and responding timely to all the reviews, positive or negative! Have positive reviews to flash and flex? Why not display it all through a review widget? By the end of this guide, you'd have learnt the tips and tricks for enhancing your TripAdvisor ranking!
In today’s world, online reputation matters a great deal. Whether you are a hotel or any other business, your reputation over the OTAs is extremely important for your customers. One of the biggest players online is TripAdvisor. With over 570 million reviews and 490 million unique visitors, TripAdvisor dominates the search results and user ratings for over 7.3 million hotels, restaurants, and activities around the world, as per its top travel trend report (2017-18). From that viewpoint, TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels is a matter of utmost significance.
While claiming your free listing on TripAdvisor is one of the primary steps to get started, maintaining your business performance on this platform is pretty challenging. It is imperative for every business to keep up with its performance on TripAdvisor as it is one of the leading booking and guest-engaging platforms.
With so many people checking this platform on a daily basis, it is important for every business to build products or services that can help achieve long-term and sustained growth. This, in turn, turbocharges your popularity ranking on TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor’s Popularity Ranking is an algorithm that is extremely crucial in evaluating the performance of your hotel or business by comparing it alongside other businesses in the same geographical location.
As quoted by Janice Lee Fang, the Communications Director for TripAdvisor in Asia-Pacific, the TripAdvisor Popularity Index “reflects how a property ranks compared to competitors in a geographic area.”
A greater part of the Popularity Ranking relies heavily on user reviews which aids in ascertaining your current status and how close to the top you are! Again, this ranking has the power to bring you up in the user’s search and plays an instrumental role in your overall growth based on the popularity quotient.
Consequently, It is a cutting-edge algorithm that influences the users to make confident decisions by giving more insights into the quality and overall performance of a business. Hence TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels becomes a critical metric for many hotels!
There is no denying the fact that the popularity level on TripAdvisor helps to turbocharge your status and overall performance. It comes with a lot of benefits. Hence the chase! But before starting with the ways in which you can boost your ranking on TripAdvisor, it is imperative to know about the algorithm in great detail.
To be precise, the ranking index is a three-ingredient recipe, wherein the three components intermingle and also influence individually the ranking of a particular business. These include- Quality, Recency, and Quantity of the reviews which are received from the users. These are then put in relation to the consistency of the reviews over time and that sort of completes the entire equation.
It is one of the core elements of TripAdvisor’s business offerings. The specific ratings provided by the consumers/guests are taken into consideration, A business that tends to have a higher average rating or the hotel with more star ratings is usually on the higher side. Again, the frequency of reviews and ratings plays a critical role in the overall rankings.
Additionally, the currency of the reviews plays a vital role as well. Old reviews lose their value over time and recent or latest reviews matter the most. The algorithm utilizes a weight system in order to grade every review and recency is considered to be a key aspect. It means the fresher the review the greater its significance in the process of TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels.
However, the above-stated factors can be regarded as tangible or measurable. More subjective factors such as the reputation of the hotel, overall opinion of the travelers about the hotel, the goodwill generated by the hotel, etc. are difficult to integrate into the rankings algorithm.
In other words, even though the rankings are a significant tool for measuring the quality of hotels, they cannot be considered as the ultimate paradigm for the decision-making process. For example, most people usually consider the price or rent of the hotel, location of the property, appearance of the rooms, and other factors such as free car parking, free WIFI, etc. instead of just considering the TripAdvisor ratings.
To begin with, let us devote a part of this discussion to knowing more about each of these components briefly:
83% of the users believe that ratings are significant when choosing accommodation, 70% when choosing a restaurant, and 58% when deciding what attractions to do.
Quality is based on the “bubble rating” which sums up the overall performance of the business based on the reviews received. This helps to boost the business ranking and know more about the quality of the experience provided. So, a business with a 5-bubble rating will rank higher than a business with a lower bubble rating.
Fresh and recent reviews matter! They help to give the existing and more accurate representation of how the business is doing and people's perspectives on the same. As a result, they take the upper hand over the older reviews. However, the older reviews will still be visible under the “Overview” section of each listing and business review history.
Fitzgerald once said, “Too much of anything is bad...” and so did Mark Twain! But with all due respect, we are inverting the scenario here. Too many reviews can never be bad!
In fact, the amount of reviews that a business receives helps prospective customers to determine its popularity quotient. However, by the quantity, we mean that the reviews generated should be capable of producing a statistical significance in order to allow the customers to make confident decisions.
For instance, a business with 700 reviews will not be listed on the top when compared to another business generating 70 reviews at the same time. The reason we are saying more reviews is because they can help in providing us with more information about a hotel or business. Again, a statistical measure can be derived only when the customers can predict TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels based on the great mass of reviews.
• Poor reviews are a massive turn-off
• Recent reviews take the upper hand when compared to the older ones
• A great amount of reviews helps to make certain confident or potentially confident decisions about a business
A perfect combination of these will introduce 'consistency.' To ensure consistency, you can allow these components to intermingle to up your popularity ranking:
(i) Quality and Quantity can merge together to ensure consistency, A simple example of this would be a business having consistently good reviews in comparison to the one having the same amount of good and bad reviews (mixed). Obviously, the former will rank higher.
(ii) On the other hand, Recency and Quantity together will work wonders. A large number of fresh reviews will certainly go well, thereby turbocharging TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels.
A major part of boosting the ranking is based on user feedback which is why collecting reviews and feedback becomes extremely important.
As per the research by TripAdvisor, 81% of the travelers find online reviews important and read them before booking a hotel and 93% of guests make their bookings after reading the reviews, while the 70% read at least 6-10 reviews before actually choosing a hotel.
We always come across a pertinent question from a large number of hoteliers asking us an easy way or tips regarding how to boost ranking.
Honestly, it’s not a cakewalk!
Even after getting on the top, you will have to keep striving hard to maintain your position there. But with a few right tips and methods, you will find the process beneficial, efficient, and highly enjoyable.
It is usually a generally accepted rule that the higher the TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels, the greater the amount of bookings it receives. This is based on the positive opinion and image of the hotel among the peers or the travelers which instills belief and confidence to book the hotel. Some of the tips that can be used to enhance ranking have been provided below:
• Encourage guests to leave reviews
• Analyze the pre-existing reviews
• Timely address the reviews, both negative and positive
• Provide quality service
• Integrate automated tools like guest messaging to boost operational efficiency
Hotels that are ranked higher on TripAdvisor tend to enjoy a plethora of benefits such as wider visibility, higher rate of bookings, increase in revenue among others. In order to rank higher on TripAdvisor, it is the responsibility of the hotels to collect and market their performance and reputation in the form of positive reviews.
Back in 2006, there were six million reviews on the TripAdvisor website. Today that figure stands at more than 350 million – and travelers are adding 200 new reviews and photos to the website every minute.
The key to improving TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels is primarily dependent on consistently delivering great guest experiences. Due to the nature of the algorithm that emphasizes the current reviews, the hotels must always be on their toes and strive to deliver top-notch and personalized customer service to improve and maintain their position at the top end of the table. Some of the other steps that can be taken to improve your TripAdvisor ranking are as follows:
• Be transparent and honest in your management responses to the reviews
• Ask for reviews from the guests
• Plan an effective review collection and maintenance strategy
• Provide a memorable experience to your hotel guests
• Train your staff to seek reviews during the stay
• Catch your guests while they are still in your hotel
• Make it simpler for the guests to provide feedback
• Optimally utilize technological tools to simplify the endeavor
• Respond to all reviews, including the negative ones
• Highlight the positive reviews and flash them as trophies or accomplishments through review widgets.
The benefits of being a high-ranking property on TripAdvisor promises to be limitless. However, most hotels are clueless when it comes to the working of the rating mechanism.
One of the most important factors that contribute to the TripAdvisor rating is online reviews. Hence, it is of paramount importance to realize the significance of online reviews and have a dedicated strategy in place to address them. Given the current situation with the added uncertainty related to traveling, along with distancing and safety rules, latest reviews can be reassuring for the potential travelers apart from just knowing the hotel’s performance.
Puzzled? Here are a few ways in which you can boost your TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels:
If you look after the guests, the guests will look after your business. Remember a customer notices everything. A bad experience is unforgettable! So use the opportunity wisely to get more reviews and a better ranking on TripAdvisor. A good experience will definitely show itself in the form of a higher bubble rating determining the excellent quality of your business.
Few Tips For A Seamless ‘Pre-Arrival’ Experience
⇒ Send a booking confirmation and welcome email. For instance, "Welcome Onboard! Thank you for choosing us. We are happy to let you know that your booking status has been confirmed and we are looking forward to having you here with us."
⇒ Make sure the website is updated and does not contain any doubtful information to delude the guests. Also, endeavor to have a mobile-friendly website that is just simple and easy to use.
⇒ Send a brochure depicting your hotel’s information: location, contact number, places nearby, weather conditions, amenities, photos, etc. This will help the guests remember things more clearly and make a pre-arrival request if any.
⇒ You can also include the links containing a value-added service or upgrade which might be of some interest to the guests. Again, take this opportunity to very subtly include the links to your social media channels. However, be succinct and do not bombard the guests with too much information in the first go. Adopt a smart and moderate approach!
⇒ Send a pre-arrival questionnaire to know your guests better. For example, they might be seeking extra pillows, coffee, eggs for breakfast, etc. This helps prepare a pre-arrival checklist which, in turn, helps to make your guests' on-arrival and overall experience much better!
♦ Would they like to partake in any tourist-centric activities?
♦ Special needs for the children or pet (if your property is pet-friendly)
♦ Would they like the shuttle service?
♦ Would they prefer a foam or feather pillow?
♦ Would they want any in-room deliveries like flowers or champagne for a special occasion?
⇒ Send a gentle reminder regarding the stay a day or two before their arrival. You can also send more than one reminder. But remember not to overdo it as this may be a little bothersome!
Few Tips For A Mind-Blowing ‘On-Arrival’ Experience
⇒ Greet your guests with a smile and welcome them properly. First impression matters!
⇒ If you can, help the guests with their luggage. They do remember that!
⇒ Be prompt with your service. Tools like guest messaging can enhance the operational efficiency
⇒ Presenting a digital amenity page upon check-in will help the guests know a lot about what they’re in for: WiFi password, gym timings, breakfast timings, special services, upsell options, etc.
⇒ Likewise, you can also send a welcome message or email to the guests as soon as they check-in, and provide the relevant details that are useful for the guests.
⇒ Room service is important. Do not take it casually! Ask your staff to respect the ‘Do Not Disturb Sign’ and avoid barging into the guests’ rooms as long as the sign is active.
⇒ Try your best to arrange for an early check-in if requested by the guest. This will fetch you some brownie points.
⇒ Paying a visit to the guests or checking on them mid-stay will certainly help to impart that much desired touch of personalization.
Few Tips For A Fantastic Check-Out Experience
⇒ Ask about the guests’ overall stay at the check-out.
⇒ Send a Customized ‘Thank you Message’ post the check-out. You can attach the request for quick feedback along with this:
"Thank you for choosing to stay with us. We hope that you had a wonderful stay! We would love it if you can provide quick feedback to help us know your experience better. We would appreciate that! Take care!"
⇒ Subtly send email updates to the guests who have signed up with the newsletters, discount offers, best deals, promo codes, and personalized promotions that can be enjoyed for future visits.
⇒ Ask politely for feedback. Asking helps!
Rankings suffer a great deal sometimes just because we are unable to respond to so many reviews on time. Befriending an efficient Review Management tool can help you with the task of managing and responding to these reviews like a pro.
Such tools allow you to manage all your reviews on a single dashboard and respond to each of them personally and professionally with adequate personalization and with the aid of the expert response curators. This helps boost TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels and also instills confidence in other travelers. It can generate more reviews easily, manage reviews, analyze reviews, collect feedback, and post-stay reviews, automatically. Having implemented the right solution will help you boost your ranking everywhere.
Often in reviews you will find the guests giving their feedback on something which needs improvement. While it takes time to improve upon certain aspects, do pay heed to customers’ suggestions. Even if you are not planning to execute the changes right away, do keep it in your mind for future improvements.
For instance, if your rating is lowered as a result of the inadequate breakfast served at your hotel, even if your overall service is up-to-the-mark, do not treat this aspect casually. Instead, focus on expanding your breakfast selection.
Focusing on offline actions will surely reveal itself in the form of extremely positive reviews from happy customers who would be glad to acknowledge the efforts you took.
As it goes, Bubble Rating on TripAdvisor is an overall rating of your performance by the guests on a scale of 1-5 where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.
Star ratings are, however, different and are only hotel-specific. But star ratings are provided by third-party platforms and while they are important, it is the traveler-based rating that is stronger and emerges as the dominant voice. Because even if the hotel is rated five-star and the guest believes that it provides a three-star service, they will stick to that!
To know more about Bubble Rating and how it works, click here!
While responding to reviews doesn’t have a direct impact on your TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels, it can still come jam-packed with a lot of indirect benefits. The way a business responds to its customers helps drive more bookings and more potential reviews.
85% of users feel that a thoughtful and appropriate response to a bad review will improve their impression of the hotel, and 65% of respondents agree that they are more likely to book a hotel that responds to online reviews, compared with the one that doesn’t.
So how you curate a response to the reviews, both positive and negative will influence customers' booking decisions and indirectly your TripAdvisor ranking. More customers mean more reviews and better reviews mean enlarging the scope to improve further in the future.
Check out some of the Best practices for responding to hotel reviews online!
While we all crave positive reviews on our performance, the way you respond to negative reviews is extremely crucial for improving your popularity ranking. It instills hope in the guests that you will at least listen to them and think of a possible alternative to solve their problem.
Your professionalism can make way for more reviews and more reviews can help boost your ranking to a great extent.
You need not be a luxurious or lavish accommodation to boost your ranking. What we mean is that it is not enough. Have a clear vision and do not delude the guests by making false promises. Be honest! Showcase yourself as transparently as possible.
Even small gestures can go a long way in helping you boost TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels. For instance, leaving a welcome note with a complimentary chocolate bar or flowers can make a guest happy and lead them to leave you a positive review.
Factors like cleanliness, staff service, amenities, etc. matter. Mobilize your team and train them efficiently by instilling in them a guest-centric culture. A bad staff service can bring down your performance and impact your business negatively. Encourage the staff to go even that extra mile to resolve the guests' problems before it escalates and culminates into a negative review.
Guests really love an extra touch! Providing good value for money is an ideal expectation. However, if you cannot really lessen the cost, supplement it with extras like an upgrade or free Wi-Fi. A fulfilling experience will help the guests leave a positive review. However, avoid giving out rewards or any other incentives in exchange for the guest reviews as this goes strictly against the TripAdvisor Incentives Policy.
An incomplete profile is a massive turn off. It looks unengaging and less appealing. Update your profile with all the details that might be engaging and attractive. Use the relevant keywords, catchy descriptions and add high-resolution photos and videos to give a really good impression to the website visitors.
This option works wonders in helping the guests leave reviews. You can embed them on your website or Facebook Page. A host of these widgets are for free such as: ‘Write-A-Review Widget’, ‘Rating-Widget’ and ‘Rave Review Widget.’ This will act as a constant visual reminder to the guests that they are supposed to write you a review and will aid in redirecting them.
A good automated guest satisfaction survey solution will allow you to send e-mails to the guests asking for feedback post the check-out. Again, a digital survey helps with the analytics by bringing to the forefront an accurate representation of your ongoing progress and guest satisfaction with your performance. A good automated solution will help fetch more survey responses and make the process less time-consuming compared to the e-mails. This usually has a positive impact on TripAdvisor’s popularity ranking for hotels
You can analyze and collect quantitative data with the help of a sentiment analysis technology. This technology uses AI (Artificial intelligence) to analyse the positive, negative and neutral sentiments of the text. This data configuration is extremely helpful when it comes to learning more about the areas where improvement is needed and what your guests are liking/disliking, their opinion, etc. Again, this is useful for the operational changes, customization of experience, and formulating brand loyalty.
Besides the automated guest satisfaction survey solution, you can also ask your staff to participate in the crucial task of asking feedback from the customers. For instance, the guests usually ask for the information on sightseeing and what all to do. Tell your staff to use this opportunity to the fullest, not only for providing them with the information but also to engage a bit with the guests and then politely ask them to leave a review.
The best way to learn anything about popularity ranking is to first analyze the market trend. Look at what your competitors are doing and how they are doing it. This prepares you to strengthen your strong points further and work on where you are lacking. Again, studying the market in detail helps in knowing the guest experience and expectations better.
Taking a cue from what positives the customers have to say about your competitors, you can enlarge your scope and try to equip yourself with the facilities that the guests look forward to enjoying during their stay.
For your convenience, we have compiled a table of the significant "dos" and "don’ts" on how to turbocharge your popularity ranking on TripAdvisor for a quick glance!
1.Familiarize yourself with the TripAdvisor Management Response Guidelines for drafting appropriate responses.
2.Get a third party app or solution to help you get more reviews.
3.Respond even to the negative reviews
1. Do not forget to update the website.
2. Do not offer incentives to the customers for reviews.
3. Do not encourage fake reviews by asking your friends or relatives to write them for you.
A. A statistically better set of reviews (quality, quantity, and recency) is one of the reasons why others are ahead of you in the race of popularity ranking.
A. A single review does not affect the algorithm of popularity ranking. It takes into account the overall position or performance of the business by determining the overall quality of the reviews received from the users. So to avoid more negative reviews, follow the tips mentioned above and look for ways to get more quality reviews on an everyday basis.
A. The ranking is calculated daily by taking into account all the published reviews, along with the new ones added for the day.
A. Bubble Rating on TripAdvisor is an overall rating of your performance by the guests on a scale of 1-5 where 3 is considered average and 5 excellent. It is more like a personal satisfaction score based on the quality of the service provided by you. It sums up your performance and is visible to the customers whenever a search is performed.
A. Not really! But again, as an indirect factor, it has a vital role to play in boosting the ranking. Prospective customers are likely to leave their responses after seeing the management replying to different types of reviews in a professional, courteous and personalized manner.
A. Not really! But they are useful for providing the customers with valuable information on what and what should not be expected of a particular hotel. Thus as an indirect factor, you are required to pay more attention to improving the performance of even the sub-factors as this will help boost your overall ranking later on.
A. As discussed above, a review management solution comes with multiple benefits. It can help manage your reviews and allow you to tackle each of them with utmost care. This is a significant aspect of reputation management and a great measure of your overall performance.
Furthermore, it makes it convenient for you by putting all the reviews on a single dashboard for efficient management which, in turn, is less time-consuming and beneficial
A. We would like to warn you against drafting fake reviews as TripAdvisor has a Zero Tolerance Policy towards scam reviews. It is believed to be compromising the integrity of this platform. So, do not encourage your friends or relatives just like that to post a review nor do it yourself. The analytics tools used by the site are immensely effective in detecting the verified, authentic reviews from the fraudulent ones. So beware!
A. Online reputation has a major influence on the perception and financial stability of a hotel. 79% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family.
A significant part of improving online hotel reputation largely depends on the effective and timely management of online hotel reviews. However, it is important to remember that the reputation of hotels doesn’t merely depend on online reviews and consists of various other factors. While a positive reputation helps you to attract potential customers and generate revenue, a negative reputation, on the other hand, can harm your hotel in terms of dissuading guests from booking .Some of the factors that can help your hotel’s reputation and ranking are as follows:
• Optimize your website and strengthen social media presence
• Encourage guests to leave reviews
• Resolve negative issues as soon as possible
• Expand the content of your website with information related to the destination
• Tap into the positive guest experiences and market them across all platforms
A. Online hotel reviews help in providing additional information for potential travelers to mitigate the extent of uncertainty about a hotel’s quality and whether or not it fits their preferences and needs. It is the responsibility of the hotels to play a more active role in maintaining and developing their online reputation in order to ensure that your business has a positive reputation in the online domain. Customers will value guest ratings over a hotel’s brand 72% of the time. In fact, 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business if they’re asked to.
Surely, the hoteliers should take proactive steps to increase hotel reviews. Some of the steps that can be implemented to garner more reviews are as follows:
• Reviews should be responded to regularly and quickly
• It is important to be appreciative of any type of feedback
• It is advisable to not offer compensation in the virtual domain
• Work hard to address the issues at hand
→ Fraud Penalties
→ Fake Reviews
→ Offering Incentives for Reviews
While popularity ranking is not the be-all and end-all, it is still important to keep your property ahead of the rat race on an esteemed platform like TripAdvisor. Online reputation is extremely important. Hence having a solid online reputation strategy is the need of the hour!
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