How holiday parks should handle TripAdvisor

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, it’s fair to assume you have heard about, and probably used, TripAdvisor.

A revolutionary idea, TripAdvisor allows users to rate, review and recommend accommodation, bars, restaurants and even tourist attractions. It also allows these tourism businesses to respond and to expand or further develop their listing.

TripAdvisor is the largest travel site in the world, with more than 60 million members and over 170 million reviews and opinions of hotels, restaurants, attractions and other travel-related businesses.

With this amount of user generated content there is great opportunity – but it can also be a cause of vexation and grief for property managers.

Obvious benefits of a TripAdvisor listing is that it is a genuine way to promote your caravan and holiday park on a platform that is fairly ‘flat’ – your competitors are on the same field as you. Having user-generated content is also a good way to build trust in potential guests. When planning a holiday destination, people are more likely to trust past guests’ opinions than what your park website wants to tell them.

The problems begin when the negative comments start to come in. TripAdvisor has been criticised for allowing unsubstantiated anonymous reviews to be posted about any property. Several park managers I’ve spoken with are quite critical, not of TripAdvisor itself but that consumers see this as their way of complaining about an issue they had in the park rather than going to the manager and having it rectified quite easily while they are at the park. This happens time and time again.

So how do you combat this sort of negative press? First and foremost it is important that you don’t let the situation spiral out of control. Make sure you address negative comments and try to make a positive out of it. It is important at this stage to adopt a bit of a zen approach – even when you find comments that are unnecessarily snarky. Always be proactive with an apology, an explanation if there is one and an offer to stay again.

Another way to tackle the issue is at the source. Park managers are putting in place good feedback systems to try and combat this by explaining that any issue can be reported to the managers at anytime, as well as sending feedback surveys to customers’ email addresses straight after they leave.

Ali Slorach at Big4 Beacon Resort sees TripAdvisor as a unique and essential part of their marketing, providing greater exposure to potential guests, stating that feedback, whether negative or positive, is a good measure of how you’re going. “We went from a standard listing to a business listing about four months ago and this has definitely been helpful. With a business listing you are able to list a special offer, create announcements (such as our recent Tourism Victoria award) and upload a slideshow. You also get a weekly activity review that shows you views and engagement.”

Her advice to other park managers? Respond to every comment and don’t ignore your TripAdvisor page. “No comment, if an explanation is provided, is negative necessarily. You need to be consistent with TripAdvisor. Update images and profile and manage responses,” Ms Slorach said.

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