TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, is an important marketing resource for any safari lodge or camp and one that can’t be ignored.
Recent TripAdvisor research has shown that:
- 96% of TripAdvisor users consider reading reviews important when planning a trip.
- 83% of TripAdvisor users will “usually” or “always” read reviews before deciding to book accommodation.
- More than half of TripAdvisor users will not book a property that doesn’t have any reviews.
How TripAdvisor Ranks Your Lodge or Camp
TripAdvisor doesn’t reveal the exact method for ranking properties but a careful study of area rankings reveals the main influencers are a combination of:
- Number of reviews
- Rating of reviews
- Recency of reviews
All things being equal, the more reviews you have, the higher you will rank on TripAdvisor.
The better the reviews you have, the higher you will rank on TripAdvisor.
If two lodges have the same number of reviews then the lodge with the better reviews will rank more highly. An analysis or reviews indicates that lower reviews have an increasingly negative impact on a lodge’s rating. So, for example, a 2 star review will have a much greater negative effect that a 3 star review.
The more recent your reviews, the higher you will rank on TripAdvisor.
The value of a review degrades over time. As a review ages it starts to count for less in the overall lodge or camp rating.
Both Lufupa Bush Camp and Bongwe Kafue Camp have the same number of reviews and stars. The latest review for Bongwe Kafue Camp is over a year older than the latest for Lufupa Bush Camp leading to its lower ranking.
How to Improve your Lodge or Camp’s Rating
1. Provide Great Service
The best way to make sure you stay at the top of TripAdvisor is to consistently provide great service.
Make sure you provide your guests with a great safari experience. Try and exceed their expectations so when they return home they will sing your praises.
What you and your team do to make sure your guest’s stay is a remarkable one will directly influence the reviews you will receive.
Monitor your reviews to see what you’re doing right. Can you do it even better? These are the things that are making you stand out from your competitors so make sure you keep at it.
If any of staff are mentioned in a review, let them know. Positive feedback goes a long way and you want to encourage the right behaviour.
2. Be Proactive in Encouraging Reviews
The majority of your reviews will come from only a small portion of your guests. People forget, think it doesn’t matter or it’s too much effort.
If you’re proactive and encourage guests you will see an increase in valuable reviews.
Each lodge or camp has their fans who act as ambassadors for you. As fans, they will be only too happy to share their great experiences with their friends, family and community. Keep talking to them and let them know you appreciate their support.
Publicise your TripAdvisor listing on all of your communications. Add a widget to your website. Include a link in the footer of your emails. Place a TripAdvisor sign prominently in your reception area. If you provide any handouts make sure it includes your listing details.
Talk to your guests whilst they are still with you. They are more likely to leave a review when they are having a great time and before the return home with all its distractions. If your staff hear a guest compliment the lodge, let them know reviews are always appreciated. If there’s a problem, address it immediately, hopefully transforming the guest’s experience and stopping a potential bad review.
3. Respond to All Reviews (Especially the Bad Ones)
Every property will get a bad review from time to time. No one like criticism but they are an opportunity for you to display your customer service.
84% of travellers say that an appropriate response to a bad review will improve people’s impression of the property.
Demonstrate that you care about your guests.
Outline what you have done to correct the problem so that future guests can see you’re on top of things. Be sincere, don’t get defensive and never, ever be aggressive.
Monitor your reviews and see where you can improve. Is there an operational issue that can be addressed? Sometimes we are too close to the operation and might miss something that a new guest would not.
What can be improved? Could the staff benefit from some extra training? Could you communicate with guests more effectively? Is it time for some maintenance on the chalets or vehicles?