Almost everyone relies on online reviews to inform their travel decisions. The entire tourism world knows the benefits of TripAdvisor, but how many other review sites do you have helping drive sales? TripAdvisor is surely the king of reviews for most tour operators, but there are several other sites worth considering.
Before diving into review sites worth optimizing for your business, it’s important to recall why reviews are so important to your company in the first place.
Based on a survey by Webcredible, people cited reviews almost as much as they cited price as the most important purchasing factor. The Director at Webcredible says that this research proves the importance of user-generated content in the tourism industry. “Those sites that don’t take heed could find themselves fighting a losing battle,” he cautions.
It’s one thing to have a TripAdvisor account and confine reviews to its site. If you really want to take advantage of all that user-generated content, take the next step and showcase reviews on your website. Sites that offer reviews next to their tours see conversion rates skyrocket 35 times greater than without reviews. Other studies have found that hotels with a 10% boost in their TripAdvisor rankings experienced a 4.4% increase in sales.
There are so many reasons why reviews are crucial to your business. This article from Tnooz summarizes all these benefits and offers some interesting insights that we recommend you read. Go ahead, we’ll still be here in two minutes when you finish.
Here are the platforms that you should prioritize to make sure your business gets the most out of customer-generated reviews:
You Guessed It, TripAdvisor
You can’t talk about review sites without talking about TripAdvisor. This content-powerhouse hosts over 250 million reviews, and by the time you finish reading this article, there will be about 300 new reviews on the site. You can bet the farm on the fact that people will reference TripAdvisor at some point in their tour-planning process.
There’s a simple registration process that even allows you to sign in with Facebook or Google+. These two social media sites are the two most popular platforms for travel research, making signing up through either account a no-brainer.
If you want to learn how to increase your TripAdvisor ranking, we’ve also written a post on just that.
There’s one thing that businesses, especially consumer-facing ones, love about Facebook: it has 1 billion active users all over the world. In terms of direct reach, Facebook takes the cake. Having a Facebook Business page not only allows you to generate reviews, it also lets you engage with your followers. You can host social media contests, post pictures of your guides, or offer holiday deals. Facebook is a two-for-one deal when it comes to optimizing reviews and interacting directly with guests
Google is another indispensable resource for any business. Having a Google+ Business profile automatically puts you on the search engine’s radar and can help your SEO. Then, populate that profile with more and more reviews, and you’ll get something that looks like this every time someone searches for you on the Internet:
(Above: Google+ Business reviews in action. TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Yelp rank in the top search results.)
Having a Google+ Business page is a great way to bring supreme visibility to your reviews. As a bonus, it’ll also integrate other important information such as your address, photos, and hours of operation.
Finally, here’s one platform that maybe you haven’t really thought about before. It’s mainly dominant among reviews for Food & Drink, but people coming through Yelp also consult it for travel advice. Among tourism topics, people are almost 20% more likely to search Travel Guides & Travelogues over Hotels & Transportation. In terms of its user base, Yelp gets over 5 million visits per day and can be very powerful in more urban regions of the U.S.
Having a Yelp page makes a lot of sense for tour providers operating ready-to-go activities that people can book on the fly. On the weekends, the majority of Yelp’s users are looking at reviews from the phones. This type of behavior often signals that customers are looking for an activity to do here and now. Having a mobile-optimized site will help considerably as guests go from Yelp’s app to your website. If your tour is well equipped to handle walk-up business, consider getting a Yelp profile.
Reviews are Key
User-generated reviews are one of the most effective marketing and sales tools at any tour provider’s disposal. If you have time this off-season, make sure to take advantage of these influential review sites and start driving more revenue to your business.