Dissecting the Algorithm Behind Your Hotel’s Reviews and Rankings

How often do reviews play a role in guests or planners booking a hotel? Hotel guests read 6-12 reviews before booking, according to a recent TripAdvisor survey. Interestingly, the survey states 77 percent usually or always reference TripAdvisor before selecting a hotel. This can be a frightful for hoteliers who have received a batch of negative reviews.

Statistics prove it’s not just TripAdvisor where consumers lurk and research. A recent study says consumers visit an average of 38 sites before booking a trip, and 16 websites on the day of booking the hotel or resort. Among those visited, the websites include TripAdvisor, airline websites and the destination marketing organization (DMO).

It’s extremely important to respond to reviews as an initiative for the guest experience and hotel marketing. As the recent survey showed that 87 percent of consumers agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review improves his or her impression of the hotel.

But, what if you have positive reviews, you’re regularly responding and you are still low in the rankings? If you aren’t familiar when I reference the term “ranking,” many review sites implement an algorithm to compare you to other hotels, restaurants, or venues in the same market.

One of the bigger mysteries in the world of search and reviews is the algorithm. You aren’t alone, many hoteliers are asking, What is this mathematical equation affecting my hotel’s marketing?” Today I’m going to dissect the current algorithm affecting your ranking in TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google Hotel Carousel.

TripAdvisor

Your hotel or resort’s TripAdvisor ranking can play a major role in bookings. Similar to Google search results, someone searching “hotels in San Diego” on TripAdvisor will see them listed according to their current ranking. TripAdvisor ranking algorithm is dependent upon three key factors:

  1. Recency of reviews – constantly receiving new reviews is important; encourage guests to review the hotel by providing instructions to sign up for a TripAdvisor account.
  2. Star Quality (Quality) – Positive reviews of 4-5 is going to improve your ranking.
  3. Number of reviews (Quantity) – The number of traveler reviews has weight on the ranking.

Yelp

Guest reviews on Yelp are designed to shape the best results for other travelers. The Yelp algorithm includes review text, ratings and number of reviews. So phrases such as “best place to eat in San Diego,” or “best chicken pot pie,” will play a huge role for related searches.

Google Hotel Carousel

If you don’t have a business Places page and a Google+ Local for Business pages, do a favor for your hotel marketing and establish both now. There’s a direct correlation between your hotel’s Google reviews and the ranking in Google Carousel. You can optimize for the Google Carousel by adding high-quality photography, encouraging guests to review your hotel on Google, and add target search keywords to your listing such as “San Antonio Hotel.”

Consumers will continue to share their experiences through online channels. In return, hotels must accept criticism, respond efficiently and effectively, as well as incorporate tools to manage online reputation. Experience matters most in the hospitality industry, and a positive brand sentiment is invaluable.

Written by Sarah Vining.