By BRAD FOSTER
The ever-evolving TripAdvisor website is developing greater appreciation by the meetings and business travel markets.
Let’s say you were looking at a hotel to hold a meeting in on the Gold Coast, or you wanted a property to camp your road warriors in when they flew through town and weren’t sure where to begin.
If you’re really smart you could read this magazine and you could contact the local convention bureau for advice.
You could also log onto TripAdvisor and read the reviews of the properties in your area. Yes, read the reviews and take special notice of the responses from the hotel staff to any particularly negative ones as a way to gauge how management responds to issues that arise.
On a whistle stop tour of Australia recently, TripAdvisor’s head of industry relations, Brian Payea, said that meeting planners have told him that they monitor reviews of properties they are considering – “knowing that their clients will be doing the same once the hotel choices are put forward”.
“They don’t want any surprises or [the] `Did you see what the reviews say?’ comments [on TripAdvisor] after they make their choices,” he said.
Mr Payea says that eliminating surprises and the uncertainty is the key as is auditing of how management responds to criticisms in an effort to see how guests are treated virtually.
TripAdvisor reviewers are divided into four classes: Families, Couples, Solo and Business. Those seeking a property for business purposes may prefer to read the reviews from other business travellers. And, to further improve your chances of staying in a property that suits your needs, you can take a look at any reviewer’s history to see how many venues they have reviewed, whether their reviews are more positive than negative, and whether their comments are generally sound.
“Once you find someone who you think shares similar characteristics to yourself you can start to follow his or her reviews for when you’re seeking other venues or restaurants or whatever.”
Another sweet treat with TripAdvisor is that if you sign onto TripAdvisor through Facebook and your friends on Facebook have written reviews on TripAdvisor you can read what they say about specific hotels, restaurants and experiences. These should be people you can trust.
“We are the only global instant personalisation partner in the travel space for Facebook. More than 120 million people have instantly personalized the experience.”
This allows Facebook users to see where their Facebook friends have stayed and, if they have made comments on venues or restaurants or destinations, what they are.
“I can use my Facebook friends as a filter because some of the biggest hotels on TripAdvisor have had over 10,000 reviews and clearly they are not all relevant to me.”
More for business
Coinciding with Mr Payea’s trip t o Australia was the announcement by TripAdvisor that the company now had 50,000 venues that had upgraded their packages to TripAdvisor Business Listings.
TripAdvisor for Business began in 2010 and now offer an array of features and services to not only help accommodation houses attract more guests but to monitor their business’ performance on TripAdvisor. These include:
- Direct Connect – Enables individual hotels to increase their property’s exposure in front of TripAdvisor’s more than 60 million unique monthly visitors by adding their direct contact information – such as a website link, email address and phone number – to their property page on the site.
- Special Offers – Allows venues the ability to capture the attention of researching travellers through customisable special offers on high-visibility pages on the site. According to a soon-to-be published TripAdvisor study, customers rate the most desirable type of special offers to be discounts on rooms (87 per cent of respondents) and a free night’s stay with booking (49 per cent).
- Mobile Upgrade – Increases a property’s visibility and appeal to travellers on the go by displaying special offers in front of 45 million monthly visitors on TripAdvisor’s mobile website and popular mobile app.
Mr Payea says the suite of products available with TripAdvisor for Business allow venue operators to analyse the reviews of their accommodation offerings in a simple and easy-to-read format.
“This helps the businesses analyse what the reviews are telling them. Are there [recurring] themes? Are there issues that they need to address?
“The successful properties we have talked to that are using this system are looking at these reviews and changing what they can to improve their business operation. They are also saying: `What are we doing really well that we’re not trumpeting loudly enough? Should we be changing our marketing strategy to better fit with what the travellers are telling us?’
TripAdvisor presently has 1600 staff globally and is planning to boost its staff numbers in Australia in the next 12 months. Asia is a significant growth market, outpacing all other markets at the present time.