With more than 350 million visitors on a monthly basis, TripAdvisor is one of the most important marketing and distribution tools for hotels. According to a recent survey, more than half (53%) of travelers say that they wouldn’t book a hotel that doesn’t have reviews, and a significant percentage (87%) say that reviews positively influence their booking decisions.
Having a good ranking on the TripAdvisor site can significantly increase your hotel’s online visibility and reach among potential travelers. For many hotels, trying to earn a coveted spot in the top rankings of TripAdvisor seems like a mysterious process—the ranking algorithm is highly secretive, and you can’t just buy your way to the top. So is there anything that hotels can do? First let’s look at the algorithm.
What we know about TripAdvisor’s ranking algorithm
Firstly, a bit of a disclaimer. Much like Google’s own secretive search engine algorithm, TripAdvisor’s ranking algorithm is also very complex and takes into account many factors, many of which won’t be made public. TripAdvisor also constantly tweaks the algorithm, meaning that ranking factors change and evolve over time. What is known about this algorithm now may change drastically in the future.
To their credit, however, TripAdvisor is relatively transparent when it comes to the changes they make and often advise hotels (and restaurants/attractions) about how they can improve their rankings. We recommend always paying attention to updates on their blog to learn the latest.
Quality of reviews is a massive factor
One of the biggest elements of this ranking algorithm is the quality of reviews your hotel is receiving. Are they all 4 and 5 stars? Concentrating on getting consistently good reviews on TripAdvisor is going to be top of your list, if it’s not already. This should make sense to you and your hotel staff already—you want to give all of your guests the best possible experience, so you’ve got nothing to fear when they take to the likes of TripAdvisor and other review sites to leave a review.
Quantity is important, but consistency is as well
In early 2016 TripAdvisor announced that they’d made changes to their ranking algorithm, which was largely based on the fact that some listings were shooting up the rankings (much to the frustration of the established ones), as a result of a number of quick-succession popular reviews. These were labelled “fast-risers,” and TripAdvisor decided to make tweaks to the algorithm to prevent this kind of thing happening again. So now they are clearly emphasizing that it’s important to consistently receive a high number of good-quality reviews.
The actual amount of reviews received is still one of the biggest factors behind a hotel’s position on the platform, so the quantity of reviews received is still critical. TripAdvisor acknowledges on their site that users want to read several reviews before deciding on a hotel, so they built this into the algorithm early on.
Timing of the review is more important now
Something else to note here is that they’re no longer giving as much weight to older reviews and so they favor more recent reviews. This gives a hotel a chance to right any wrongs from its past and make improvements, allowing for a more accurate representation of the hotel in real-time, not based on historical performance. For that reason, it’s now massively important that you constantly receive good reviews, and having a defined strategy around acquiring reviews is going to be key here.
Other points to note (and rumors to put to bed!)
TripAdvisor has stated that if a hotel has a higher number of reviews than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get a better position on their platform. Rankings are calculated when there’s a statistically significant number of reviews of the property, so this will explain why some hotels outrank others even with a smaller amount of reviews.
They’re also clear that making use of premium paid features such as Meta Search, Business Listings or Instant Booking doesn’t have any influence on their position within the site.
TripAdvisor also states that whether a property responds to reviews publicly isn’t a factor in the rankings, although they do encourage hotels to do so. Their own studies show that when a property does respond to its reviews, it has a positive influence on potential customers.
The TripAdvisor ranking algorithm is re-calculated daily, so that should serve as a reminder to hotels that the reviews they’re receiving right now, and the customer experiences they’re providing today, are going to be reflected nearly in real-time within the platform.
Ways hotels can improve their TripAdvisor ranking
So taking into account all of the above, what else can your hotel be doing to improve it’s ranking on TripAdvisor? Here are Travel Tripper’s own recommendations:
1. Ensure that you’ve completed your profile accurately.
First and foremost, claim your listing on the platform, verify all of your property details and add all of your amenities (make sure these are all 100% accurate). You should write a detailed description about your hotel which is really going to entice any reader to want to book their stay with you.
2. Add at least 10 optimized photos to your listing
Photos are incredibly important when it comes to selling the experience of staying at your hotel, so ensure that you’ve uploaded at least 10 (ideally more) that are high quality and follow the optimization advice given by TripAdvisor here.
3. Respond to any reviews (especially bad ones!)
This applies to all reviews, but particularly any negative ones that have the potential to lose you bookings from other customers. A bad review needs to be dealt with professionally and promptly, so dealing with those should be your priority. Apart from that, thanking others for leaving feedback is going to make the customer feel like their feedback was appreciated. Here’s advice on how to handle positive, negative, and potentially fake hotel reviews.
4. Have a strategy for obtaining more reviews
If you were to take away one piece from this article it should be this: ensure your hotel has a clearly defined strategy for obtaining more guest reviews! Receiving a significant number of reviews on a regular basis is a key part of the TripAdvisor algorithm now, so factor this into your strategy.
Hotels can now use online systems where past guests are emailed a few days after their stay to kindly remind them to write a review, or they can install the TripAdvisor app on their hotel website or Facebook page. Offline you can offer physical prompts such as a reminder card or a sign in the guest room. For more ideas, check out our guide on how to encourage guests to write reviews.
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