Friday, September 18, 2015

3 ways to incorporate TripAdvisor Reviews into your Booking Process

We all know TripAdvisor is the Google of Guest Reviews. It’s a dream for every hotelier to have great reviews for their property on TripAdvisor.

But what is the differentiator between highly rated hotels and their poor cousins?  What are the common factors among top performing hotels on TripAdvisor?

Well, research shows that top performing hotels are more engaged with their guests and receive nearly four times more page views on TripAdvisor than hotels that do not participate in the engagement programme. A TripAdvisor study in partnership with Atmosphere Research Group found how engaged hoteliers gain higher market visibility and drive more revenue based on data from 12,000 hotels in top 25 traffic markets on TripAdvisor, including interviews with executives from four global hotel chains.

In a world where everyone is a critic, user generated guest reviews have become commonplace. Today, hotel guests are more likely influenced by online reviews - 81% of travelers find user reviews important and a whopping 49% travellers change their booking decision after reading online reviews! These statistics establish the importance of managing guest feedback effectively to convert lookers into bookers.

TripAdvisor Review

Here are 3 essential tips that you can incorporate to increase your visibility on TripAdvisor and drive more bookings -

More engagement, better performance

As highlighted above, the research study found that highly engaged hotels perform better in terms of page visibility, popularity ranking and driving more business.  Two out of three travellers prefer properties that are termed highly engaged hotels on TripAdvisor.  So what actually does “highly engaged” hotel mean? How can your hotel be labelled as Highly Engaged Hotels on TripAdvisor? As per Atmosphere, if you actively participate on TripAdvisor’s Management Centre page and post at least 10 professional pictures of your property, you qualify to become a level one engaged property. But this is not the end. Your property page on TripAdvisor is your letter-box – you must have hotel contact information listed on your page so guests can contact your property directly. The more your property engages with your guests, the better your Popularity Ranking will be - highly engaged hotels see 30% to 40% more traveller interaction with revenue-driving products like Business Listings.

Don’t forget the “Virtuous Circle” of Guest Engagement

Your guests might be talking about their favourite dish or free Wi-Fi on your TripAdvisor page – do not take these conversations casually. Engage with them on these conversations, identify areas of improvement and leverage the positive comments - though this will need extra care from your guest review management team, but the returns can be pretty high. Once you improve hotel amenities based on your guest reviews, you can increase your property visibility on TripAdvisor. Javier Carazo, Senior Vice President, Operations and Quality, NH Hotel Group interviewed by Atmosphere Research Group pointed out that, “If you focus on getting reviews, you will see the positive results. You need to make it easy for your guests to post reviews.” Take corrective actions based on guest reviews as that would catapult your brand image on these review websites and showcase you care and concern for your guests and their feedback.

Encourage new Guests to write reviews

Getting reviews on TripAdvisor does not follow the “set and forget” rule. You might think that your guest had a fabulous stay at your property and will share his/her experience on TripAdvisor. In reality, this does not happen automatically - hotels should remind their guests to share their experience on TripAdvisor once they leave the hotel. TripAdvisor’s Review Collection Platform (RCP) sends an auto-generated reminder to guests post their stay asking them to write review for the hotel. You can also send an email directly to your guests to add a personal communication touch.

Hotels using TripAdvisor’s RCP system has seen an increase in reviews from 30% to 80% which led to 40% more page views. The challenge for hotels is not only getting multiple reviews but receiving high quality five star reviews. If used properly, TripAdvisor can be a huge channel for direct and assisted booking.

Lastly, most successful hoteliers welcome all guest reviews and use it for their advantage, either to increase their property visibility or improve their service. It is always advisable to ask every guest to write a review, embrace all opinions and your business will benefit at the end.


Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Friday, September 4, 2015

4 things to know about Halal Tourism

Gone are the days when we associate the term ‘Halal’ with food. Halal, meaning lawful or permitted under Islamic Law, today applies to all facets of life – starting from makeup to banking to tourism. The concept of halal tourism, which caters to nearly 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, is the fastest growing sector and excluding Hajj and Umrah, is set to surpass $230 Billion+ by 2020.


According to the Islamic Bank of Asia, Muslim tourists’ expenditure growth rate is expected to be at 4.79% per year through 2012–2020 vs the global rate of 3.8%. There are an estimated 45 million unique trips to the top 50 Muslim destinations annually excluding core religious travel and the Hajj/Umrah travel on its own is expected to be US$14 billion market by 2020.

Predictably Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates led the sector. However, given the size of the market it’s no wonder, countries like Singapore, Russia, China, France, Thailand and Italy have taken the early move to attract this vast population. In this article, we look into the key factors to target this segment.

Growing popularity of Halal Tourism

According to Wikipedia, Halal is any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in under Islamic Sharia. The term covers and designates not only food and drink but also all matters of daily life.

For a religious Muslim tourist, travel preferences include observance of their religious obligations such as daily prayers, modesty in clothing, cross-gender interactions and Halal food. Most halal tourists prefer to travel with family members, stay for a longer period and ultimately spend more money than any other niche. To meet the needs of this high-spending segment, global brands are adapting their services to include announcement of prayer times, gender segregated swimming pools and spa facilities, private holiday villas with high walls and religious programs in destinations frequented by Muslim travellers.



Muslim Travel on rise

The global Muslim population today stands at 1.8 billion currently, with 70% of global population growth over the next 30 years expected to take place in Muslim countries. Last year, Muslims spent an estimated US$126.1 billion on international travel, making up 12.3 percent of all international travel, according to a report on Muslim travel released jointly by consultancy DinarStandard and ratings agency Crescent Rating. By the end of 2020 Muslim international tourism will increase at a faster rate than the average rate for international tourism -- 4.79 percent versus 3.8 percent. If we take into account, the Islamic banking assets which currently stand at around US$2 trillion, it’s not surprising to see the recent attention to Halal tourism by the global travel brands.

Emergence of new market

Malaysia has been the pioneer to identify the opportunity in Halal Holidays, attracting over 6 million Muslim visitors last year. Malaysian Airlines, the national carrier was the first to introduce halal in-flight catering on board. However, Turkey, with its closer proximity to gulf countries has overtaken Malaysia to have emerged as the top destination for Halal holidays. According to the Muslim Travel Index Europe, released by Halal Tourism Conference, for Muslim holidaymakers, France is the most popular destination in the continent, with England and Italy tied close behind. Hotels are offering Arabic-speaking staff, Arabic television channels and rooms facing the direction of Mecca, along with prayer mats and halal food options.

Channels specializing Halal tourism

Cashing on the trend, in recent years online travel agencies specializing on Halal travel haven been steadily increasing in numbers. HalalBooking.com, one of our channel partners, provides full holiday services in accordance with Islamic beliefs and practices.  The website is available in 6 languages, has advanced hotel search and book functionalities, provides 'Total Precise Family Pricing” and “Room Suitability” guarantees, and receives bookings from over 70 countries worldwide.

Other sites like Muslim Tripper, Islamic Travel, Halal Trip and Sun Sea & Halal are also catering to this segment. As travel industry takes note of this opportunity, it would be interesting how hotel operators adapt to claim their share of the pie.


Hisham Diab is Sales Director – Middle East & Africa at eRevMax. He can be reached at hishamd@erevmax.com