Ashley Smith-Hammond

We explain why Trip Advisor matters and how its algorithms work. Plus: three key tips that your organisation can follow to get the most out of the platform.

Taking a trip

Scotland hosted over 150 million trips in 2016. Many of those visitors will be looking for something to do. These days, when considering what to do on a holiday or day out, most people do the majority of their research online, while at least a quarter of potential visitors do at least some of that research on their mobile. And a site as ubiquitous as Trip Advisor, which has an average of 455 million users each month, has a decent shot at being part of that research.

Many cultural organisations are also visitor destinations in their own right. This is especially true for museums, galleries and multi-arts spaces that are open to the public, although performing arts venues shouldn’t discount the importance of sites like this.

How the algorithm works

When it comes to the infamous Trip Advisor reviews, you would obviously want people to give you a five out of five – but there’s more to it than that. The trick with Trip Advisor is to maximise your reviews in the three areas that the algorithm values:

  • Quality – the bubbles that allow users to give a rating out of five.
  • Recency – this is to make sure that the experience people have reported is relevant to current travellers.
  • Quantity – this helps to correct for outliers and looks for statistical significance.

Trip Advisor’s own guidance on this is worth a look. The recency element means that reviews in the past count less than more recent reviews to the overall rankings. Because quantity matters, more is better – even if it increases your chances of a few negative reviews overall. So it’s a good idea to encourage visitors to review your venue and their experience. However, you should not incentivise reviews – Trip Advisor sees this as fraud and will lower your ranking.

THREE tips to get the most out of Trip Advisor

Photos are really important. You’ll want to include nice photos of the venue so people know what they can expect when they get there. Listings with photos see more engagement and more bookings. 2018 Trends Research from Visit Scotland recommends looking at your space not through your visitors’ eyes but their camera lenses. The emphasis is placed on making the experience more photogenic in order to encourage social media sharing.

A few bad reviews aren’t all bad. People tend to look at a range of 6-12 reviews and have an instinct when things seem too good to be true. They expect to see a couple of negative reviews and won’t let it put them off if the majority are positive.

Its not just for hotels and restaurants. It’s true the site has a focus on bookings, but 68% of their users say Trip Advisor helps them know about attractions too.

Main image credit: 1. Assume correct position. 2. Disregard hat if necessary. by John Twohig CC BY-NC 2.0