How TripAdvisor Gets Travellers Talking – The Power of Word of Mouth


It’s no secret that we are more likely to buy something if we’ve been influenced by friends or family. In fact, Neilsen reported 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family. With these kinds of stats word of mouth is at the top of the marketing ROI food chain.

So why are brands still struggling to get cut through in getting their customers/followers to share and recommend their products? To find the answer, we’ve taken a look at Trip Advisors social strategy. They do it so well and authentically, every brand can follow their model. Let me tell you… They don’t worry about Organic Reach being “dead”. Hell! They don’t even incentivize reviews. The know one important thing about people, we love our opinions.

Anyone who has intensively planned a trip knows TripAdvisor – the world’s largest travel site that enables travellers to search for the best hotels, restaurants, and other activities. But what is it about Trip advisor that gets travellers talking? How has the power of social word of mouth helped them be the successful business they are now?

Before we proceed to answer these questions, I think it’s important for us to understand the TripAdvisor process first…

Let’s say, “Mary”, a tourist is looking for a place to stay in Melbourne for a short vacation. She goes to Google and types in “Hotels in Melbourne” and clicks on the TripAdvisor Link, this is what she gets:

Trip Advisor

As a user, Mary can filter the results according to her needs – hotel class, style, brand, location, amenities, price, etc. For the purpose of this post, I’m choosing budget and located in the city centre:

Trip Advisor

When hotels have almost the same amenities and price, what will set them apart? Reviews.

When you click on Tune Hotels, you’ll get remarks from real people who have already stayed in the hotel. These are honest reviews from people who chose Tune Hotels over a lot of other options. How do we know they are real? They are connected to an active social media account.

Trip Advisor

These reviews make it possible for new users to decide which among the options is the best one. This is what makes TripAdvisor effective – the users are doing the marketing for them.

What strategies can we apply to our business, so we have our word of mouth as successful as TripAdvisor? Here are 3 lessons and strategies every business can do to use power the social word of mouth marketing:

Lesson #1: Reviews don’t come easy. Go the extra mile to acquire them.

More often than not, customers will just move on with their lives and not think about leaving product reviews when there isn’t something unusual about their purchase. When you book a hotel, and you get what you saw on the site, you stay there, and you move on with your life. It’s highly unusual that you contact the hotel manager and say, “Thanks, the hotel is just as good as it was advertised.”

And this is why as business owners, we have to go the extra mile to ask for testimonials from our customers. We shouldn’t wait; instead, we should initiate the communication. TripAdvisor initiates the conversation when they send emails to their users asking about their recent experience. By doing this, they get travellers to send reviews & photos – both good & bad. You know what someone purchased, when they purchased it and when it was delivered right? Use these data points to help you trigger review requests.

Lesson #2: Bad reviews aren’t that bad. They can be used to gain the trust of your customer.

Something most brands I speak with is afraid of is a “bad” review. In my opinion, not all bad reviews are bad if they are handled correctly. I wrote about this a little while back in a blog titled “The Power Of Social Customer Service” where I shared the exact things I have our clients do if an unhappy customer pops their head up. It happens… It’s just life. Using this guide my clients have all been able to turn around unhappy customers and have a 100% satisfied customer feedback rating.

TripAdvisor also teaches us that you have a small window of opportunity to turn a bad experience around by attending to the customer’s review and leaving a personal response.

Here’s a negative review about Tune Hotels that we found in TripAdvisor:

Trip Advisor

If you’re a new user researching for hotels, and you see this review, you’d probably be disappointed and will look another place to stay. But, Tune Hotels Manager found a way to turn this experience around posting this reply:


By sending this reply, the manager of Tune Hotels has shown that the dissatisfactory experience was an isolated case and that they are very much willing to look into it further. A display of excellent customer service got them the trust (and reservations) of new users.

Lesson #3: It isn’t as hard as it looks, “I’ve got an app for that.”

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s all very nice lady, but TripAdvisor is huge and probably have budget resources, developers and time to invest in tech development, how am I meant to do that?” There are a few tech platforms out there to help any brand do something exactly the same or similar. My favourite is ShopSocially; they have 16 mega features including one that allows your shoppers to vote on the product they should purchase if they are undecided.

In conclusion, after reading this blog, I don’t want to hear you saying “organic reach is dead, wah wah wah” Who cares about organic reach! What about organic referrals. Get your audience doing the hard work for you… for free!

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