Marketing Through TripAdvisor? Don’t Offer Review Incentives

April 16, 2020 2:10 pm Comments Off on Marketing Through TripAdvisor? Don’t Offer Review Incentives

The Review Solution

If you own any business that utilizes TripAdvisor, you’ll need to be careful when asking customers for a review. Although there is nothing wrong with requesting that your patrons post their experiences online, you must be extremely diligent that you do not offer an incentive in return. According to Steve Wyer of The Review SolutionTM, offering incentives of any kind violates TripAdvisor’s fraud policy.

Types of incentives

While most people think of an incentive as simply a discount or coupon for a positive review, Wyer cautions that TripAdvisor’s policy goes well beyond that. The site does not allow any sort of in-kind consideration, up to and including making a donation in your customer’s name in return for feedback.

What does TripAdvisor consider fraud?

TripAdvisor considers any act by a property agent or owner as fraudulent if it boosts their reputation by:

  • Discouraging guests from leaving any critical review relevant to a stay;
  • Privately contacting reviewers with the intent of providing a future incentive to remove a negative review;
  • Actively putting pressure on travelers to take down reviews on the TripAdvisor site;
  • Asking only customers with known positive feedback to leave a review;
  • Transcribing comment cards left on-location and submitting them onto TripAdvisor as a review;
  • Submitting online feedback on behalf of current and former guests, even if given permission;
  • Soliciting positive reviews from friends, family, or associates;
  • Promising upgraded services or amenities for only those visitors that leave positive reviews online;
  • Impersonating a former guest or competitor.

Further, Wyer explains that property managers are expressly prohibited from using paid review companies or third-party services to submit reviews. This includes marketing agencies of any kind. Owners, managers, and other interested parties may not leave a review for their own property.

Owners that violate this policy run the risk of being barred from the TripAdvisor website.

How To Encourage Reviews Without Violating Policies

Although you cannot exchange goods, services, or discounts in exchange reviews, you can ask your guest to leave feedback. Keep in mind, however, that it’s best to do this in the most non-invasive way possible. A text message or an email within a few days of checkout may serve as a reminder. 

The best way to get positive feedback is to create a legitimately enjoyable experience. And you can use former bad reviews as a springboard to create a better rental. If you get constant complaints about water getting cold too quickly, for example, something as simple as changing out the hot water heater or insulating the pipes may be all you need to ensure your property offers five-star service.

Review Guidelines

According to TripAdvisor, they only accept reviews that are recent, noncommercial, relevant, unbiased, and provided by an individual with firsthand knowledge of an experience. In other words, TripAdvisor only posts and accepts reviews that are unprompted and truthful.

Remember that reviews, both positive and negative, serve two purposes. The first is so that consumers can encourage or caution others who are looking into a specific business or service. The second is to help business owners – or property owners in the case of TripAdvisor – get a better understanding of how their own service is viewed by the public. It is valuable feedback, and it should never be bought. Doing so only hurts the people that reviews are supposed to affect the most.

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Steven Wyer

Chief Operating Officer at The Review Solution
Steven Wyer is the Chief Operating Officer of Third Coast Interactive, Inc. and the author of Violated Online. As COO of Third Coast Interactive, Steven Wyer oversees platform development, sales, marketing and internal operations. These responsibilities include global expansion into targeted vertical markets that can best leverage the power of The Review SolutionTM, a service that offers consumers a convenient way to post online reviews for local, regional and national businesses.