TripAdvisor’s head of destinations urged travel companies to embrace reviews and accept that they are not going away.
Justin Reid, who joined the online user review site in 2014, said companies can utilise the review culture as it continues to grow exponentially.
TripAdvisor had one million reviews in 2000, which rose to 100 million in 2013. Now the site gets 415 million unique views every month.
“No one is slowing down in terms of making reviews,” said Reid. “You should embrace reviews because they are not going away.
But he said the growing concern of ‘fake news’ was becoming a problem. “The whole idea of what you can trust is becoming more and more confusing,” he said. “Fake news is something we didn’t even talk about a year ago.”
Reid said a “critical mass” of reviews is important. “When people see that critical mass of several thousand reviews which are overwhelmingly positive, people put trust in that,” he said and added that companies can use reviews as “free customer research”.
Hotel giant Hilton, he said, was about to spend millions on new linen but – after analysing typical reviews – realised customers wanted free WiFi instead. “Reviews can expose the weakness of your product and help you address it,” Reid said.
His views were echoed by Matt Eames, chief commercial officer at Feefo, which verifies that each review is made by a genuine customer.
“There’s no such thing as review fatigue,” said Eames, who predicted ‘in-moment reviewing’ as the next step. Customers are willing to post their feelings instantaneously and businesses often complain that they wish they’d been given the feedback at the time of the service to remedy any issues there and then, he said.
Eames also suggested that customers would like to review individual members of staff rather than the company and warned companies that if they don’t show some negative comments, customers will query whether the positives are genuine.
“Not enough companies are doing enough to harness what we are doing every day,” he added. “It can be used in marketing, is easy to do and it doesn’t happen enough. There aren’t very many companies that have realised that reviews can really help their business, they can connect with people in a way they’ve never been able to do before.
“These reviews are happening whether you like them or not. You should harness the power and own the conversation.”