What makes TripAdvisor a preferred choice in the process of identifying a hotel to stay at is the rich guest-feedback and reviews for most of the listed properties. The stuff about getting addresses, details, baking in a booking engine has been done by very many, but where TripAdvisor leads the pack is this recommendation layer built on top of this aggregated data.
This recommendation layer is what helps us in not only discovering but also deciding on the hotel/restaurant we want to go to. It also gives you a place to comeback and share your own views – which hopefully can influence future decisions. Which gives us a sense of being in control, of being an influencer of sorts
TripAdvisor’s recommendations product is indeed a very mature offering. They have baked in reviewer’s authority, social graph ( it shows reviews from your network clearly marked) etc.
But there is one huge opportunity which is clearly missing – Individual Professional profiles for the hospitality sector.
Let me explain this in detail.
We all know from our past experiences that the key to a great experience is much more than the architecture, luxury, ambiance etc- it is the staff which finally brings all of these together to give us a great stay. Right?
There have been times when I stayed in a great property but the staff just failed to step up to the expectations. On the other hand, some of the best times I had was when I was backpacking and staying at guest-houses and probably half star rooms in Rajasthan. The human connect is absolutely critical.
If this assumption is valid, shouldn’t we help build reputation for the hospitality sector professionals by sharing our feedback? Maybe we should avoid writing it when its an overall negative experience, but why wouldn’t I do it for a great manager/waiter?
A recent experience confirmed the need for this.
We were out on a road trip to Agra/Mathura/Vrindavan and my brother found this incredible property in Vrindavan (and not through Trip Advisor). We checked out the next day and in the whole confusion of getting all 11 people and their stuff together, my brother forgot his wallet at the reception.
We were on our way and almost back on the highway when the manager called to tell us about the wallet. On his own he checked where we were and sent out his guy on a bike to deliver the wallet. Kept calling us to check if we got it or not. When my brother called him up to say ThankYou, he just asked if we would write a positive review on TripAdvisor.
We did, but guess who gets the 5 star rating? This manager got mentioned, but he would get drowned in the list of fresh or helpful reviews that would float over my brothers review of the property.
Look at the image above from Dusit Devarana’s page. These are the top 2 reviews showing and one can see Varun Kutty being mentioned – unfortunately one guest got the name wrong. Many other reviews don’t mention Varun. Wouldn’t Varun love to have a small place on TripAdvisor which shows a summary of only those reviews which mention Varun. That would be a personal trophy for him – one that keeps getting bigger day-by-day !
Also given the churn in the hospitality sector, this manager would probably move to a new location and while he might dig out the review and show it during interviews, it might not be a compelling argument in his favor.
- TripAdvisor allows hospitality sector professionals to build Linkedin kind of profiles
- A guest who is reviewing a property can also mention the specific staff members who influenced their experience
- Maybe we would want to keep the personnel mentions for positive reviews only- hence trigger the prompt or tagging option only when the rating is 4 or 5. I would want to do this to keep the negative reviews out, which are rarely written objectively.
- Aggregate the reviews/ratings mapped against the professional and show it as a summary. Also show this in combination with the property or brand they were associated with at that point of time.
- This profile could also be used as a proxy for background/reference checking. Hospitality sector suffers from a very high level of CV fraud and most of those pertain to prior experience.
- This would also get the hospitality staff fully integrated to the TripAdvisor platform. They might not feel the threat of competition right now, but this would help build a very strong hurdle against any future threat.
In my opinion, this would also motivate the staff to invest in each interaction they have with guests. The gap is that this would end up catering to the front-end staff only and miss out on the back-end folks. Very few people ask for the chef’s name at a restaurant if they have had a great meal.