In this post, I’m going to show you both the danger of TripAdvisor and how to mitigate that risk.
Anyone who’s ever read my book will know that you should never put all your eggs in one basket.
Whether 80% of your business comes from Google, Viator or TripAdvisor, you should never give up that much control to anyone.
Take TripAdvisor. The bigger the city, the bigger the pay-off if you reach #1 on their rankings. Yet just making the top 40 in a city like London is almost impossible.
There are businesses with 5 TripAdvisor bubbles and a good amount of recent reviews. Their rankings? #80 and #81.
Wow! In a smaller city both of these businesses would most likely be top 10.
London From Scratch, despite their lowly ranking, has an EXCELLENT record on TripAdvisor:
There are many businesses all around the world who look like this one. They generally have higher rankings in TripAdvisor because they’re in smaller cities. No matter your location, you don’t want to finally get to the top and be at risk of having one bad experience taken away from you.
Even if your tour or activity company has managed to go 5 years without receiving a negative review, that doesn’t mean that that you’re going to be fine tomorrow. This is all thanks to what I call the ‘group bomb’.
Introducing the Group Bomb
One negative review might not make a big difference. What about three in one week from the same group? A ‘group bomb’ is where where every single person from a travelling party takes the time to leave you a negative review.
Your ranking goes from #3 to #33 in one day, and your TripAdvisor cash cow goes down the toilet with it. Think it couldn’t happen to you? Well, let’s look at two group bomb victims – one from London and one from northern Australia.
A Train Trip Gone Wrong
One mistake cost the Belmond Northern Belle two 1-star reviews and a 4-star review. This happened because of a series of events that were more or less out of the control of the company. From their responses:
‘Your excursion to Eltham Palace was carefully planned, however, the timings we requested through Network Rail, who maintain, plan and execute the timings for all of our excursions, were longer than we expected. We were unable to request for less time at Eltham Palace due to additional rail traffic in the area and thus we were not able to leave earlier.
Eltham Palace was closed to the public on this day and we were very lucky to get it specially opened for you and your fellow guests on board the Northern Belle. We were not aware that this would have any effect on the services provided by Eltham Palace on the day and for that I sincerely apologise.’
One bad timetable. The company is ranked #128 in London largely due to the amount of reviews they receive, which has drowned out the negative ones, but who knows how much higher they could be?
One Miscommunication Over The Phone
Even worse is this example from FlickingFresh Farm. They had a miscommunication and wound up receiving three 1-star reviews in the space of 6 days, all from the same group of people:
While it’s fairly obvious that the owner could have handled this situation a lot better, are you really going to bet your entire business on your staff handling every. single. situation. perfectly? TripAdvisor certainly won’t be removing those reviews if they happen.
It’s worth mentioning that FlickingFresh, the company mentioned above, is no longer in business. Was this a result of these three reviews? It’s hard to imagine this situation helping very much.
Avoiding the Group Bomb
You can have great customer service out the wazoo, but this will not be enough. You can’t avoid the group bomb, but you can mitigate its impact.
The key is to have a stream of online reviews coming your way and the best way to do that is to make sure you’re:
- Using an online booking system
- Sending follow-up emails using that online booking system.
This will ensure a steady pulse of reviews which can help mitigate that risk.
Further Reading: How To Respond to Negative Reviews on TripAdvisor.
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