The holiday season is upon us, so that means it's time for you to step up your TripAdvisor game. Here's our 5 ways to help you make the most of your TripAdvisor listings, plus even more tips from some very successful hoteliers who have been so kind as to share their knowledge with us - because like I said, it's the Holiday Season and Sharing is Caring.

1. Responding to Reviews

Reviews are crucial in that they let hotels know where their properties really stand in the public eye. Our successful properties tell us unanimously that responding to reviews has helped them win more business. Travelers look to your response to see how you rise after falling. Show them your empathy, your commitment to service and what you can offer them.

"When people are considering staying at our properties they will for sure check the reviews from previous guests to get a sense of what they can expect. Scores will be important naturally but frequent responses from the management to positive reviews to express gratitude and systematic answers to negative reviews to demonstrate that the hotel seeks every opportunity to improve, will contribute to give confidence and move users further down the sales funnel". - Pierre Langelotti, Corporate Director of Digital Marketing at Centara Hotels and Resorts.

Hoteliers are very passionate people. Every time there is a complaint or a negative feedback, sometimes there is the tendency to get slightly defensive.. "Many of the readers will be prospective future guests. Just like in real life, it is important to come across as rational, positive and accommodating in our online persona. The responses that work best are where you are graceful in accepting both praises as well as criticisms. We encourage our properties to always respond as though they are responding to a wider audience and not just a single review in question" said Chetan Patel, Vice President, Digital & CRM Onyx Hospitality Group..

"More quality reviews combined with frequency have a positive impact on TripAdvisor rankings and hence, business generated through the site. So, the impact is there." - Chetan confirmed.

2. Photos & Images

Images are very important because they make you stand out. Here are some tips from TripAdvisor:

  • Avoid images of people and scenery - Photos of your property or location are more helpful to travelers than photos of staff members, other travelers, or generic scenic views of your area.
  • Avoid lifestyle photos with people - Those lifestyle photographs that show people will be dated after a few years as clothing and hair styles change.

If you are unsure of which images should be displayed, TripAdvisor machine learning can optimise it for you.

"Each hotel can audit pictures' validity so as to choose which ones to load, and this can be accessed through the Management Centre. What we are trying to do here is to learn what works. For instance, a bathroom shot might be a key factor for guests when it comes to considering a room." - Marcos Cadena, Vice President Digital Marketing, Distribution, CRM & Loyalty, Minor Hotels.

Some properties like Centara for example go beyond just still images. "Centara has quality videos for most properties which is critical to have from a content perspective as it drives higher engagement and increases website dwell time" said, Pierre Langelotti.

3. Confirm your Amenities are Up-To-Date

Showing off features that your competitors might not have is an advantage for you. For TripAdvisor users, travelers can filter search results by up to 200 amenities, so it's important to include everything you offer to avoid missing out on potential guests.

4. Share competitive rates and availability

TripAdvisor users are looking for places to stay and they are ready to book. Make sure you're giving them everything they need to make their booking decisions. That includes your best rates & availability. Share direct rates or work with your distribution partners to ensure you're sharing your best rates and availability with TripAdvisor.

"Consider the sales funnel. Meta search ads are very bottom funnel and carry a strong intent message from the user. As our primary focus is to drive as much direct business as possible, meta search engine ads play a critical role in this endeavour.", commented Pierre Langelotti.

5. Sponsored Placements

Monitor your campaigns' performance as soon as you activate your Sponsored Placements. You'll have access to the Campaign Performance report where you can see campaign analytics. Use this report to track how many impressions your ads have received, as compared to the number of clicks.

"Sponsored Placements provide strategic exposure to the properties. If a property is new or coming out of a renovation, Sponsored Placements can provide valuable eyeballs more quickly and effectively. The same goes for a property that is trying to shore up business due to a downturn or seasonal lull from a specific market. What works well to get higher click through rates is to choose your key images properly, and make intelligent use of the marketing messages that Sponsored Placements allow you to customise. Choose your target audience wisely and make sure that your rates are in parity. Your bids on meta-search campaigns as well as your other ads like display can work in tandem to increase the click through performance of Sponsored Placements as well." said Chetan.

At Centara, they found that Sponsored Placements work particularly well for them for their F&B outlets.

Finally, Chetan sums it up saying "It is always important to get the basics right! Ensure that TripAdvisor listings have the correct information, best images showcasing the property and up-to-date amenities. Pro actively respond to guest reviews and questions to show a continuous presence. Getting these foundational basics right will help make other paid marketing efforts including Sponsored Placements, more effective. Overall, in our experience, if you want to maximize returns on your presence on TripAdvisor, all available organic and paid options work well holistically if you understand how they complement each other."