This week, TripAdvisor launched Review Express, a new system that ultimately aims to increase the amount of content on the popular travel review site. The free service allows hoteliers to upload guests’ email addresses in bulk (up to 1,000 at a time) and then send out an email encouraging these guests to leave reviews of their experiences. A tiny glimmer of light in the continuous problem of ensuring reviews on the site are legitimate, Review Express acts as a review verification system of its own since someone directly from the hotel is inputting the contact information of actual past guests. Review Express is likely a move to help TripAdvisor remain competitive with Facebook as it continues to roll out its new Graph Search that promises much when it comes to travel planning. TripAdvisor hopes to still capture a large portion of the audience looking for travel recommendations, and if it has the leg up on content then it will likely continue to keep readers on the site.
The review verification aspect and the fact that TripAdvisor is looking to increase its content are both a step in the right direction, however, the means of getting this increase in content is slightly troubling. Almost every day, there are new articles published discussing how personalization is key when it comes to travel and how essential it is for hotels to have a personal touch and make a real connection with guests. So is bulk emailing your guests really the right way to go? Is it the most effective way to garner reviews?
There have got to be better ways of personalizing the guest review system. Here’s my idea, although there are bound to be some kinks…what about leaving a comment card on the desk inside the hotel room? The guest would fill out his basic contact info and write a couple sentences about his stay. To encourage guests to actually fill out these simple comment cards, offer them a small consolation if they return the card to the front desk upon checkout. From there, create an email template that you can use for all your guests, but leave a couple spots where you can personalize the message. Spend a few minutes a day reaching out to these guests. Type out in the email what the guest wrote on the comment card so it is personal and he knows you took the time to reach out to him individually. Thank the guest for staying at your property and encourage he shares his experience on your TripAdvisor page, to which you provide a link. From there, it would be easy for that person to copy his actual comment into a TripAdvisor review, and he is likely more inclined to do so since you took the time to email him.
I’m not saying there aren’t some problems with this solution. For example, who has extra time to write out personalized emails? It might be easiest to split the cards up among team members. If you have a big property, it might be near impossible to individually email everyone. In this case, maybe separately email those who had the best experiences at your property and bulk email the others using Review Express. The key here is that travel is personal and if you show your guests you care, they are more likely to show their gratitude by providing you a TripAdvisor rating and filling out a review.
Will you use Review Express? How do you go about getting reviews for your hotel? Is personalization the key to increasing the amount of content on your TripAdvisor page?