Dispersed TripAdvisor Viewership Reveals Changing Market Behaviors from Which Hotels can Benefit

Viewership of TripAdvisor reviews is three times greater onsites other than the 50 million views that TripAdvisor.com sees itself in an average month. The general reaction that I’ve seen to this news is that TripAdvisor is even more important than previously realized and that Hoteliers and brands should redouble (or perhaps re-triple) their efforts to drive review traffic to the review platform. No doubt this is how TripAdvisor will use these findings!

I’d like to offer a different interpretation.

The fact that the significant majority of eyeballs are coming into contact with TA’s review content outside of the website itself suggets an important shift in marketplace behavior that Hoteliers can use to their advantage. The specific behavior is that guests are becoming trained to find reviews by Search instead of by landing page. While some brands still enjoy leadership positions in “landing page content” (think NY Times, CNN.com, and ESPN) the inherent user-generated nature of TA’s content suggests that it’s dominance as a landing page destination for reviews is more the result of TA’s superb SEO work, marketing savvy, and iniital positioning during the early days of eCommerce than any brand loyalty to or special utility of TripAdvisor itself. For example, I have not seen any study that suggests that the public believes that reviews (or reviewers) are of better quality / more accurate / more trustworthy on TripAdvisor than on  any other site like, say, Orbitz. (If you have seen something like this, please pass it along…)

Given the above, I see an opportunity for hotels to disperse their review traffic to multiple review platforms and to syndicate the reviews from those multiple platforms on their own digital assets (eg: brand.com websites). Driving guests to leave reviews on multiple sites provides the following benefits:
  • Improved search engine results
  • Opportunities to improve sales from multiple platforms by virtue of improved ranking on multiple review sites.
  • Opportunity to exploit differences in the sign-in process between review platforms to find best-possible “Review Conversion” (the ratio of guests presented with a CTA (call to action) to leave a review divided by actual reviews posted).
  • Counter-balance to TripAdvisor’s current overwhelming dominance in the review space.
There is a big trend at play here: Traditional websites will continue to lose mass as content disperses to multiple social and mobile platforms. Organizations can begin to prepare for managing, monitoring, and harnessing content in this new era by understanding the well-defined and (relatively) easily managed world of reviews within this context.