TripAdvisor can be an intimidating place for smaller business owners.
It’s never been easier for a dissatisfied guest to leave a scathing review for the world to see; their one-star slam of your business potentially turning off dozens, if not hundreds, of would-be visitors.
But, by the very same token, TripAdvisor can be a powerful marketing tool for business owners to take advantage of.
It’s not just an abundance of positive reviews that can help increase footfall: TripAdvisor awards can give your business a real boost, prompting people to choose your cafe, restaurant, hotel or B&B over the competition based purely on the fact that it has the TripAdvisor seal of approval.
But how do you go about getting a TripAdvisor award? And what does winning one actually mean for your business?
Here's everything we know about these coveted online awards.
What Are TripAdvisor Awards?
The term ‘TripAdvisor award’ is often used as a catch-all term for the travel site’s two types of decoration:
- The Travellers’ Choice award
- The Certificate of Excellence award
The two awards are closely related, and the way businesses go about winning them is pretty much the same. Winning a Traveller’s Choice award does not, however, guarantee that you’ll also be bestowed with a Certificate of Excellence.
Let’s take a look at the two types of awards in a little more detail.
The Travellers’ Choice award
The first Travellers’ Choice awards were presented all the way back in 2002. Once just a fun thing to brag about online, today the awards are valued by business owners almost as much as AA rosettes or Michelin stars.
Presented annually to the world’s best hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, resorts, beaches, attractions and more, Travellers’ Choice awards are given to businesses that are rated highly by guests for quality and overall customer satisfaction.
Awards can be won on both a global and regional basis, so a small hotel in Torquay wouldn’t necessarily have to go up against one in Dubai (but, hey, it could!) in order to win.
There are no open nominations for this award - TripAdvisor determines the recipients.
The Certificate of Excellence
First unveiled in 2010, TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence awards celebrate hospitality businesses that consistently receive positive reviews and maintain a very high standard.
The exact criteria for receiving a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence are as follows:
- Be listed on TripAdvisor for at least twelve months.
- Maintain an overall rating of at least four out of five.
- Have a minimum number of reviews - TripAdvisor doesn't give a precise figure.
Only the top 10% of businesses are lucky enough to receive one of these coveted prizes, so winning one is no mean feat.
How Do I Win a TripAdvisor Award?
Since TripAdvisor awards are based entirely on the reviews and ratings customers leave on TripAdvisor, the short answer to this frequently asked question is to give your guests five-star service.
In order for TripAdvisor to know about the great experiences your guests are having, however, they need to submit reviews about your business.
We know that people are more likely to leave a review when they’ve had a negative experience, so managing a TripAdvisor listing can sometimes feel like putting out fires rather than communicating with your customers.
But the best way to offset the effects of a negative review is to encourage your satisfied customers (which is hopefully all of them!) to take to their keyboards and share their thoughts about your business.
There are a number of ways you can do this:
- Ask them in person. The most direct way to ask a guest to leave you a TripAdvisor review is to ask them upon checkout or as they leave your establishment.
- Use review request cards. A subtler approach is to hand your guest a reminder card along with their receipt or invoice as they leave.
- Send a follow-up email. If you have the luxury of having guests’ email addresses on file, consider sending them an email a day or two after their visit (while the experience is fresh in their mind), inviting them to leave a review on TripAdvisor. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so by including a direct link to your business' listing on the site. (TripAdvisor has its own tool, with multiple language options no less, for sending follow-up emails. You can learn more about it here.)
TripAdvisor also has a number of features for business owners to take advantage of in order to encourage guests to leave reviews, so be sure to take advantage of them.
What To Do With Your TripAdvisor Award
Upon receiving a TripAdvisor award, not only will your business benefit from the addition of a cool TripAdvisor badge on its page, but it’ll be included in at least one of TripAdvisor’s curated lists and articles.
Business owners can also download a special badge to display on their company’s website, meaning that anyone who navigates to it will immediately know that your business is a cut above the rest.
There are benefits in the offline world, too.
TripAdvisor award winners can order plaques and certificates via the website’s Management Centre. These can be a real boon for your business if placed in your window since passersby are more likely to choose a business over others in the immediate area when they see that it has been given a seal of approval by a name they know and trust.
The benefits don’t have to end there, either. If you receive an award, be sure to get in touch with local media and industry bloggers and tell them so.
Local publications especially are often keen to print stories about local businesses receiving awards as they cast the entire area in a flattering light — so don’t be coy about publicising your TripAdvisor victory.
TripAdvisor might seem scary at first, but, used in the right way, it can be a real asset for any business.
Instead of shying away from the website for fear that some disgruntled guest may pen an unflattering review, business owners should actively encourage their visitors to write a few lines about the experience they had.
If you see guests enjoying themselves at your cafe or restaurant, or if a couple thanks you for a great stay as they check out of your guesthouse, take that opportunity to invite them to leave some feedback. And be sure to respond to those who do — people like to see businesses engaging with customers, and commenting on feedback gives you another opportunity to subtly promote it.
Providing that it's coupled with excellent customer service, TripAdvisor could give your business a real boost - make sure you embrace it!