Love-Hate Relationship with Algorithms


In a previous blog post I wrote about the importance of maintaining your online reputation with TripAdvisor. While it may sound obvious to focus on outstanding service and cleanliness, it amazes me how many lose sight of this while pursuing the elusive higher rating on TripAdvisor. Paying attention to the most minor details is crucial, and actually encourages guests to post a positive review.

For anyone in the hotel, motel, and tourism industry, there is no review site more important than TripAdvisor. For the business operator it can be a love-hate relationship. By that I mean we love when we get positive reviews and climb in the ratings, we hate when the opposite happens and we feel helpless.  For some, TripAdvisor is like the wizard behind the curtain.  As of May 2014, there are 2000  wizards.

With statistics on TripAdvisor that more than 100 million people have downloaded their travel app’s at a rate of 28 times per minute, you begin to see the importance. More than 100 new contributions are posted every minute on TripAdvisor pages, and 2800 new topics are discussed on its forum section.

The mystery for most people lies in the TripAdvisor algorithm that creates the ranking system.   TripAdvisor looks for three core elements; quantity, quality, and freshness, and runs this information through the monster algorithm to determine ranking in each destination. Owner/manager responses to reviews also play a part in the rankings. Other than the algorithm, there really are no secrets and TripAdvisor makes most information available on its website and frequently offers webinars to educate its members.

Advertising or paying for website listings on TripAdvisor is not supposed to affect rankings. I confirmed this when Cape May was rated the 2nd best beach town in the United States. Our $30,000 ad buy that year played no role in the award and was selected based on member reviews and surveys.

When a property changes ownership or goes through a major renovation, TripAdvisor does permit the elimination of lower rated reviews. This can reveal a flaw, (in my opinion)  in the algorithm, which skews rankings. For example, you may find a property with only a handful of reviews rated higher than one with several hundred. Regardless, TripAdvisor takes their process very seriously and I’ve been told they even employ retired or former FBI agents in their web security division.

Having seen the benefit of a high ranking and received the Certificate of Excellence awarded by TripAdvisor, we tend to love the product more than others. Focusing on the details, no matter how small, will insure that continues. Personally I find it important to share this knowledge with constituents for the overall benefit of the destination.




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1 Comment

  1. Suzanne Taylor
    June 5, 2014 / 6:36 pm

    The Cape May Carriage Company just received their first Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and we are all thrilled.I am the response writer and this gives me something else to brag about.The attention to detail is what makes a business stand out,especially in the hospitality industry.I’ve also found a bit of kindness goes a long way;I think that is MY minor detail when on the job.