Published on : Saturday, May 7, 2016
While choosing a hotel we mostly look through TripAdvisor hoping to get authentic feedbacks and generally make online bookings based of this. Yes, TripAdvisor is one of the most authentic sources which provide you with reviews served by guests who share their experiences.
The site claims that it has a critical metric for many hotels. Based on traveler feedback, a property’s ranking on the Popularity Index reflects how it compares to other hotels within a geographic area. TripAdvisor says that the Popularity Index algorithm is based on three key ingredients: the quality, quantity, and recency of reviews. It also claims its Insights blog take content integrity very seriously and screen every review. If you are caught breaking the guidelines, it can take a big hit on your popularity ranking.
TripAdvisor receives 70 reviews every minute with more than 100 million reviews in a day. The site gets 230 million online visitors each month and lists nearly three million hotels, restaurants and other attractions, along with eight million accompanying photographs. Chances of fake misleading reviews can be very high. There is not much that these sites can do to protect themselves from fraudulent comment.
The site does not disclose all the elements of its popularity index algorithm. It doesn’t reveals which is more important, a property’s average review score or total number of reviews? The scoring system is like this 1 extra point on average review score will, on average, increase Popularity Index rank by 321 places. 1 extra review will increase Popularity Index rank 1.5 places.
So when a hotel calculates its ranking on TripAdvisor, The weights of a property’s average review score is 20,000 times more than its total number of reviews. So even if the score stayed same on average review and you increase the volume or quantity it would take 2, 1400 reviews to increase your rank by the same amount as one average review point.
Average review of the property counts 85% of the total popularity index ranking, total number of review counts 6% on the property ranking and 9% goes unexplained. So the key to staying at the top of the popularity index of TripAdvisor it is important to get greater quantity of recent reviews to dominate your competition. TripAdvisor says “The key to building a successful business and a higher popularity ranking is stellar hospitality and paying attention to your customers’ needs. Encourage customers to write reviews, learn from them and watch your hard work pay off.”
This system of rating leaves hoteliers under immense pressure as one negative review leaves hoteliers completely petrified. They can do most anything to get a good review. The reviews may not always be connected to service but at times very personal but greatly harming the hotel’s ranking on the site.
Hoteliers are finding this ranking pattern to be somewhat frustrating and often get back to TripAdvisor begging them to remove their hotel from the site as it is more harming than improving their business. There are many fake reviews that badly slump their ranking and popularity.
There are instances that prove the discrepancy in rating. Where a hotel had 85 reviews 73 excellent 10 very good and 2 good reviews, they had been listed on TripAdvisor for 9 years and were ranked 6th out of 47 hotels. The hotel listed 1st only had 9 reviews, 7 excellent and 2 very good and had only been listed on TripAdvisor for just over a year, BOTH hotels had very recent reviews. So how does this hotel rating site explain this factor?
There could be a possibility that the site maybe accepting payment for improving ranking of hotels. If you look up any city on TripAdvisor, and check the rankings, it never makes sense when you look at the review details, BUT it is as clear as daylight that nearly all the highest ranking listings are also “Paid Listings”.
These independent sites offer the cheapest booking so most people like to use these sites while booking hotels. Hotels however, have started reporting inconsistencies with the timing and invoicing from tripadvisor/bookings.com. Already bookings.com is not favoured by many hotels as they allow for what is effectively a free cancellation up until the last minute.
But hotels have reported that with tripadvisor there are random invoiced amounts appearing on statements and credit cards which hotels are struggling to reconcile against individual bookings. There is also a generic pushback by hotels against the big players. Margins have been squeezed enormously by the likes of Expedia and hotels are now trying to take control.
Italy’s antitrust authority has fined TripAdvisor 500,000 Euros ($600,000) following complaints of improper business practices lodged by a national hoteliers’ association and a consumer protection agency for failing to control false reviews in 2014. Indeed the site continues to have negative comments and false reviews on its site every month. So travellers will have to stop depending solely on TripAdvisor and other booking sites which may be misleading many and keeping them away from great properties just because they ranked fairly or badly on TripAdvisor!