THE rising popularity of a travel review website presents south-west tourism operators with a new challenge, Shipwreck Coast Marketing chief executive officer Carole Reid says.
Online forum TripAdvisor.com allows travellers to post first-hand reviews of the properties they stay in, good and bad. Operators also have the opportunity to respond to comments left on their business’ page.
Ms Reid said it was becoming a huge force in the tourism industry.
“We now have 89 per cent of people going to TripAdvisor to check out a motel, restaurant or tourist attraction,” Ms Reid said.
“It is here to stay and it’s now about how operators manage it and make the most of what it can offer them.
“TripAdvisor can obviously have positive impacts for operators, but there are also some negatives, with reviews that may not necessarily be true.”
She said the most important things for operators to do was respond to all user comments.
“It comes down to the skill of the operators,” she said.
“What they need to do is make sure they respond to every single review posted, good or bad, in a timely manner.
“Generally, bad reviews will be balanced out by positive ones, but it is very important for the operators to make sure they respond.
“Operators must begin to use TripAdvisor to their best advantage, and while responding to every post might be time consuming, they must do it.”
Ms Reid said there was the possibility that some users may get properties confused, leading to unfounded reviews.
“This can obviously have a negative impact and some of our local operators have said that the process of getting unfounded reviews removed from the site is difficult and arduous,” she said.
“TripAdvisor addressed this in a webinar we held with them and our operators last year, and recognised it was something they needed to work on. They said that while not everything is perfect they were continuing to work on issues to ensure the site was a fair representation of businesses listed.”