High-quality customer reviews are essential for tour and activity operators who want to improve their ranking and get more bookings from TripAdvisor. With 93% of global travelers saying their booking decisions are impacted by online reviews, collecting more reviews is a critical part of any tour or activity marketing plan.
To better understand how reviews affect your ranking on TripAdvisor, it is important to understand how TripAdvisor’s Popularity Ranking algorithm works. There are nuances to how the algorithm works. But it can be distilled into three basic points:
- More reviews are better than fewer reviews;
- Good reviews are better than poor reviews; and
- Recent reviews are better than older reviews.
The tactics listed below will cover all three of these points. Here are 9 ways for tour and activity operators to improve their activity marketing efforts on TripAdvisor by generating more high-quality reviews, more often.
1. Ask for Reviews
The fastest and simplest way to increase the number of reviews you recieve on TripAdvisor is simply to ask for them!
It might sound obvious, but it often requires effort and little bit of training. The best staff are usually trained to serve the customers needs over their own, which can make asking customers for reviews feel strange or uncomfortable.
Train your staff to ask for reviews from every group they work with. It can take some time and effort, but the results will speak for themselves.
2. Make It Personal
Happy guests don’t want to help your business. They want to help the people behind it.
They want to help the woman who kept them laughing throughout the tour. Or the man who captured their imagination with colorful and exciting stories.
In short, when you ask for a review, make it about helping your people. Not your business.
For example, instead of saying, “Our company relies heavily on TripAdvisor to get new business. If you enjoyed your time here today, please leave us a review on TripAdvisor,” try taking a more personal tone.
You could say: “I love giving these tours. Our guides rely heavily on TripAdvisor to find new groups like yours… and if you enjoyed your time here today, it would mean a lot to me if you left us a review on TripAdvisor.”
Have your staff practice their messaging to make the review request feel personal. Your guests are much more likely to leave a review if they feel rewarded. And there’s nothing more rewarding than that warm feeling of knowing that you’re not just helping someone’s business… you’re helping the person (or people) who you connected with, and who made your experience so delightful.
3. Incentivize Your Staff
TripAdvisor is very strict about incentives. Their incentive policy prohibits any type of reward or special treatment that encourages guests to leave a review. Violations will lead to the removal of reviews, bans from receiving TripAdvisor awards, and more.
And there’s a very good reason that TripAdvisor has a no-incentive policy. Their reputation relies heavily on providing reviews that are accurate and trustworthy. Offering guests incentives can easily distort or change how people rate their experiences, which could diminish the trust consumers put in TripAdvisor’s reviews.
On the other hand, there are no rules preventing you from incentivizing your staff to get new reviews.
Providing a cash bonus to guides when their name is mentioned in a five star review is a great way to make sure your staff pushes for new reviews after each tour.
Telling your guests about the reward can even increase the number of people who leave review. Happy guests want to help their guides. There’s a feeling of satisfaction in knowing that, by leaving a review and including the guides name, the guide is benefitting too.
4. Give Them a Reminder
There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing guests agree to leave a review, only for them to walk away and never follow through.
Most of this time, this isn’t because your guests are being dishonest or unthoughtful. The truth is, most people forget. They have busy lives, and often get caught up in them.
Luckily, TripAdvisor provides a few free tools that you can use to remind forgetful guests to leave a review. For example, TripAdvisor provides custom business card-sized reminder cards. They will even cover the printing costs for the first 100 copies.
Reminder cards are easy to handle and carry around. When a forgetful guest empties their pockets at the end of a busy day, they’ll be confronted with a friendly reminder to hop on their phone or computer and write you a glowing review.
5. Send a Review Request Email
One of the most important and effective ways to consistently generate new reviews is with a review request email.
Review request emails are a great way to give your guests an extra nudge. Email is a perfect medium because it allows you to request a review from your guests when they are already online. They don’t have to pull out their phone or walk to their computer, because they’re already there. Finally, providing a direct link to your TripAdvisor profile increases the likelihood that they find your listing quickly and leave a positive review.
6. Improve Response Rates with Automation
Intelligent tour booking software, like Xola, allow operators to automatically send guests a customized review request email at the end of their tour or activity.
Automated review request emails improve your review collection process for two reasons:
- Automated review request emails reach your guests at the right time. At Xola, review request emails are sent out 24 hours after the tour ends. This guarantees that you are asking for a review when the experience is still fresh in the guest’s mind while still giving them time to return from their trip and get settled. This improves the likelihood that the guest will be more willing to leave a review, and will respond in greater detail.
- Automation eliminates the manual process, saving your staff time at the end of a long workday. Uploading, importing, crafting, and sending new emails every day is a chore. And reducing the frequency of when you send the emails (once a week or once a month, for example) in an effort to reduce the workload can hurt your review count. Sending even one week after the activity is often too late, meaning less respondents and lower quality reviews.
7. Get the Whole Group with Digital Waivers
Experiences are meant to be shared. That’s why most of the bookings you receive are for more than one person.
But the online booking process can only capture the email of the person who books, not the rest of the group. For a group of four people, for example, you are missing out on the possibility of sending a review request email to the other three people in the group who did not pay.
Tour and activity operators who require guests to sign waivers when they check in have a unique opportunity to capture the email addresses of all of their guests, not just the buyer.
Digital waivers allow operators to collect the email addresses of 100% of their guests. In many cases this means they can generate three or four times as many reviews.
Waiver-based review request emails are a powerful and immediate way to multiply the number of people who review your company on TripAdvisor.
8. Get Ahead of Negative Reviews
No matter how hard you try, a few guests will have a bad experience. It might be the weather, an unusually harsh staff member, or a guest with unrealistic expectations.
Whatever the reason, a bad experience doesn’t have to mean a negative review on TripAdvisor.
One way that Xola customers keep negative feedback private is by including two separate links in their customized review request emails. The first directs happy customers to leave a review on TripAdvisor. The second link directs unhappy customers to an internal feedback form where their staff can address and respond to the feedback privately.
While this is a great way to avoid unnecessary negative reviews, it is still important to respond to internal feedback. Negative customer feedback is often one of the best ways to identify places where your business can improve. On top of that, ignoring negative feedback can make an unhappy guest feel even more neglected, which can quickly lead to a public review.
9. Respond to Bad Reviews
Every once in a while, a bad review will make it onto your TripAdvisor account. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Negative reviews a great opportunity to demonstrate your excellent customer service. Plus, a healthy balance of positive and negative reviews can actually increase consumer trust.
When you do get negative feedback, it’s important not to take it personally. We all make mistakes, and that’s ok.
At the same time, it’s important to demonstrate that you take responsibility for your mistakes. If you can demonstrate to prospective customers that you’re willing to own up to an issue (and to fix it, if possible) they will normally come out with an even better impression of your business. A little humility goes a long way.
There are many different ways to get more high-quality customer reviews on TripAdvisor. But at the end of the day it comes down to one thing: ask!
There are a few different ways to ask for a review. And sometimes it takes a few reminders before you get a new review. Combining in-person review requests with automated email reminders is often the most effective way of boosting your reviews and increasing your TripAdvisor ranking.
To learn more about how Xola’s online booking system helps tour and activity operators get more reviews on TripAdvisor, contact us +1 (855) 909-9652 or click here to schedule a demo with a product specialist.