Hotels Are Still Living and Dying By TripAdvisor (But They Need To Let It Be)
A few months ago, we wondered whether hotels were abusing TripAdvisor. We’ve done a couple articles about how hotels can be annoying in their attempts to get us to review them online. Managers have asked their employees to post phony positive reviews, and we've personally been offered a free upgrade/cash for a positive review post-stay. Shady business? You betcha. But you know what? It brings a smile to our face.
Correct us if you disagree, but the silver lining in all of this review warfare is the amount of power held by the consumer. According to Market Metrix, 93% of global travelers say their booking decisions are influenced by online reviews. Hotels are clearly desperate to get good feedback published online, and problems that were once able to be swept under the rug are no longer limited to shouting distance. "Word of mouth," good or bad, has never been such an understatement as online reviews reach the eyes of thousands. In this, we certainly take great pleasure. Today, every ordinary Joe possesses the power of the press.
That said, we want to go on the record and note that all the aforementioned desperation is really, truly, starting to annoy us. Why not just let it all happen organically? We (customers) know TripAdvisor exists, and it is our choice whether we want to post our thoughts publically or not. Hotels should focus on providing a pleasant experience, and the rest will take care of itself -- there's no need for the constant begging. Honestly, it comes off rather pathetic in our eyes. We'll write what we want, when we want, if we want -- thank you very much.
A study on the impact of social media just won an “Industry Relevance Award” for its insights into how important a strong online presence is, so we're not so naive as to believe hotels will suddenly give up on their quest for online feedback. For that, we have a few suggestions to help them find a balance so that they may stop tugging on our T-shirt when we checkout.
We ask that hotels stick to less abrasive and more ethical forms of requesting our feedback. A small sign/reminder on the checkout counter serves as a great alternative to verbal onslaught and/or straight-up bribes. Or, better yet, hotels can now link their customer feedback surveys directly to TripAdvisor. Hotels should also include a link to their TripAdvisor page when emailing receipts or the traditional "thank you for your stay" email.
These are all non-invasive yet direct and ethical ways to encourage us to pen a review, so hopefully we can begin to move forward into a more reasonable form of feedback request. Seriously, we just paid you $200 for a night's stay. We're not your PR team, and it's not our job to bring you publicity. End of story.