With over 20 million members, sites operating in 30 countries worldwide, and over 50 million reviews and opinions, it is safe to say that TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site. TripAdvisor provides a wealth of information to its users, helping travelers plan and make informed decisions on where to stay, eat, and play on their next trips and vacations. While TripAdvisor offers various tools and features to evaluate hotels, restaurants, and attractions, today’s focus is on the role that photography serves within this online travel community.
How Does the Prominence of TripAdvisor’s Traveler Photos Affect Hotels?
TripAdvisor has provided the opportunity for travelers to post their own photos for years now, but since June, TripAdvisor’s global sites have prominently featured traveler photos right beneath the hotel-submitted professional photos. This strategic placement encourages travelers to post their own photos. In conjunction with this photo feature, TripAdvisor users can vote thumbs up or down to the photos, link back to the photographers’ TripAdvisor profiles, filter photos by specific categories, and be redirected to the posted professional photos. Earlier this year we covered the importance of professional hotel photography, and since a visitor’s initial peek into your hotel begins well before walking through the lobby doors, professional, visually appealing photography is undoubtedly important. So how does TripAdvisor’s emphasis on travelers posting their own photos fall into the equation?
TripAdvisor serves its members by providing information and reviews on hotels, restaurants, and attractions so travelers can make the most educated travel decisions. And the 8 million-plus traveler photos featured on TripAdvisor help to do just that. Clicking through traveler-posted photos, users can get a more realistic idea of the hotel’s accommodations, services, and overall ambiance and character, but just like regular reviews, these photos should be carefully monitored and managed. While TripAdvisor’s traveler photos can help users in the travel-planning process, in a world of online user-generated content, it once again highlights the importance of managing the online reputation of your business. Just like negative comments and reviews (which are not limited to travel sites), poor-quality, unappealing photos can hurt the reputation of a hotel. And because users trust reviews from actual hotel guests, it is that much more important to manage your online reputation, and manage it right.
Making The Most of User Generated Content
The good news is that TripAdvisor–like other sites that promote a social component with their users–gives hotels the opportunity to form relationships with their online communities to encourage repeat visitors and generate new customers. Use TripAdvisor’s services and features as tools instead of fearing the possibility of “make it or break it” opinions. By using the online community to your advantage, your hotel can create a dialog between hotel and visitor before a stay even occurs; become aware of challenges and shortcomings and address the problems quickly and effectively; and give your prospective customers a positive first impression. Because guest reviews are an important part of the search engine algorithms, encourage your visitors to leave reviews of their stay. Ideally they will accompany their review with visually appealing, realistic photos to depict their experiences with your hotel, which will also help your rankings and result in a more trustworthy TripAdvisor listing.