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If you’ve been reading my blog for more than two seconds, or you’ve read my book(opens in a new tab), you’ll know that I’m really big on responding to literally ALL of your TripAdvisor reviews.

The reason, to me, is obvious. Businesses that respond to all their reviews get more bookings.

But there’s even another reason to respond to reviews.

Businesses who respond to reviews get higher average ratings on TripAdvisor. In fact, once you start responding to reviews, you’ll get a bump in average rating. Wouldn’t you want that?

It turns out that if guests know you are reading, they’re less likely to leave a negative comment about you.

How do I know this? A combination of studies from TripAdvisor and from Boston University.

Let’s start with TripAdvisor’s study(opens in a new tab). At this point, I should mention that these studies focus on accommodation, but it doesn’t take too much to assume that these benefits also transfer to tours, a service which is even more personal than hotels.

Says TripAdvisor:

Rate of Management Response for Recent Reviews vs. Average Review Rating

0% response rate = 3.81 average review rating
5% – 40% response rate = 4.04 average review rating
40% – 65% = 4.05 average review rating
65%+ response rate = 4.15 average review rating

Wow. The data are very clear. But, you might ask, maybe the hotels who are responding are just better hotels in general? That’s a good question, but studies say ‘no’. It’s only when you start responding that the review scores go up. How do they know? To quote them:

‘We empirically answer this question by exploiting a difference in managerial practice across two hotel review platforms, TripAdvisor and Expedia: while hotels regularly respond to their TripAdvisor reviews, they almost never do so on Expedia. Based on this observation, we use difference-in-differences to identify the causal impact of management responses on consumer ratings by comparing changes in the TripAdvisor ratings of a hotel following its decision to begin responding against a baseline of changes in the same hotel’s Expedia ratings.’

And the eventual result?

‘We find that responding hotels, which account for 56% of hotels in our data, see an average increase of 0.12 stars in the TripAdvisor ratings they receive after they start responding. Moreover, we show that this increase in ratings does not arise from hotel quality investments. Instead, we find that the increase is consistent with a shift in reviewer selection: consumers with a poor experience become less likely to leave a negative review when hotels begin responding.’

So this is what you can expect:

Higher average review score, which means…

Higher average ranking, which means…

More people clicking through to your listing, which means…

More bookings!

I suspect that the formula works even better for those people who respond instantly to reviews, as TripAdvisor shows reviews in order of recency.

Even better if you have followed my TripAdvisor profile tips(opens in a new tab).

People are less likely to say negative things about you to your face. It’s basic human nature transferred to the internet. I’m often asked what my top tips for online marketing are for tour operators, and this is always in my top 5.

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