With 93 percent of global travelers saying their booking decisions are impacted by online reviews, collecting more TripAdvisor reviews is an essential part of any aerial adventure marketing plan.
More positive customer reviews help build trust with consumers and reinforces your reputation as a high quality attraction. More reviews also increase your TripAdvisor ranking, which makes your business more appealing to consumers, thus increasing the likelihood they’ll book with you instead of a competitor.
To better understand how reviews affect rankings on TripAdvisor, it is important to understand the nuances of TripAdvisor’s Popularity Ranking algorithm. It can be distilled into three basic points:
- More reviews are better than fewer reviews: TripAdvisor uses review quantity to determine how “confident” it is in the quality of your park, which informs rankings. And consumers use review count to determine the quality and reputation of your park when deciding whether or not they want to make a booking.
- Good reviews are better than poor reviews: This one is pretty straightforward. TripAdvisor (and consumers) prefer companies with more five star reviews and less one star reviews.
- Recent reviews are better than older reviews: TripAdvisor gives more weight to recent reviews when determining your ranking. Consumers are also more likely to trust reviews that are made in the past week vs. reviews posted months or years ago. For seasonal zip lines and challenge courses, it’s important to focus on collecting reviews immediately when opening for the season, or risk falling in the rankings.
Here are seven simple tactics that aerial adventure operators can use to collect more high-quality reviews, more often (and get more bookings).
- Ask for Reviews
The most effective way to get more reviews is to ask for them.
For owners and operators that know the importance of reviews, this will seem obvious. But for guides, reservationists and other staff, asking for reviews might not come naturally since reviews don’t necessarily impact their day-to-day work lives. Plus, great staff are usually trained to serve the customers needs over their own. That can make asking customers for reviews feel strange or uncomfortable.
The parks that generate the most reviews aren’t necessarily the largest, or even the best. What sets these parks apart is their staff members are well trained in when and how to ask guests to review their experience. Managers provide ongoing training to make sure that every staff member is contributing. After all, collecting reviews is a team effort.
- Make It Personal
Happy guests don’t want to help your business; they want to help your people.
They want to help the guide who kept them informed and engaged during the safety orientation, or the one who built their confidence when they got nervous on the ropes, or got the group laughing at the right moment.
When there is a personal connection between staff and guests, guests are much more likely to leave a review and more likely to leave a positive one!
- Incentivize Your Staff
If you want guides to go the extra mile to make guests happy and solicit more reviews, make it worth their while.
Some operations make it a friendly competition. Whichever staff member gets his or her name mentioned in the most five-star reviews each month wins some sort of incentive, such as a small bonus.
So, when asking for reviews, staff should have a creative and personal request ready to go. Sit down with your guides and have a brainstorming session about fun, tactful, and personal ways to ask for those five stars.
- Give First, Ask Later
Sometimes you have to give before you receive.
Mike Seper, owner at Eco Adventure Ziplines, lives this credo. And it pays off.
“We like to give before asking for anything,” Mike explains, “so I like to send a photo from before the tour and thank them for visiting [before]asking for a review. Our open rate is great and our reviews have increased.”
Social psychologists call this behavior the “law of reciprocity.” It basically says that when you do something nice for someone, he or she will have a deep-rooted urge to do something nice in return.
Many operators are utilizing this method of providing a photo reminder of the experience and incorporating the ask into that email or digital gallery.
“Selling digital galleries is a great way to boost the number of people who leave reviews,” Diego from PicThrive explains. “A simple but effective solution is to embed a TripAdvisor review request button in each photo gallery. In fact, one of the zip line operators we work with saw a 30% increase in reviews on TripAdvisor using this method.”
- Provide a Reminder
It’s frustrating to hear a guest promise to leave a positive review, but fail to follow through. Most of the time, the guest had every intention of doing it, but simply forgot. By the time they’re back home or at their hotel, you’re going to need to remind them leave a review or the opportunity may vanish.
Luckily, TripAdvisor provides a few free tools to help remind forgetful guests to leave a review. Its custom reminder cards, for example, fit perfectly in a guest’s wallet. When a busy guest empties his or her pockets at the end of the day and sees the card, hopefully it prompts that glowing review.
- Send a Review Request Email
One of the most effective ways to consistently generate new reviews is with a review request email.
Like reminder cards, review request emails are a great way to follow up with guests after they leave. Email is a great medium because it reaches guests when they are already on their phone or computer. By embedding a link directly to your TripAdvisor profile you can increase the likelihood that they actually visit your page and leave a positive review.
Most challenge course and zip line booking software companies allow you to send automated review request emails, which save you time, and also ensures the message is getting to the guest in a timely fashion.
Sending review request emails at the right time improves the likelihood that guests open the email, click on the link, and write a detailed review. I recommend sending your review request email 24 hours after the guest leaves because the experience is still fresh in the guest’s mind.
- Get the Whole Group with Digital Waivers
Aerial adventures are group activities. That’s why most of the bookings you receive are for more than one person. In fact, according to Xola’s own research, the average zip line or challenge course booking is made for three people.
But the booking process only captures the email of the person who books, not the rest of the group. So if one person books for three people, you are missing out on the two others who should still receive a review request email (and other communications from your park, too).
Digital waivers are one solution. Since every guest must to sign a waiver to participate, you can require all guests signing digitally to leave their email address as part of the process. This simple step can effectively triple your database so more guests are receiving reminder emails, ultimately leading to way more reviews.
Waiver-based email marketing isn’t just useful for collecting more reviews. Castle Rock Zip Line Tours uses waivers to allow guests to opt-in to receive emails when the park is running promotions.
Overall, digital waivers can do more than simply protect your legal liability. When done right they help grow your email list, generate more reviews, and promote new discounts and specials.
At the end of the day, the most effective way to grow the number of quality TripAdvisor reviews for your operation is to ask for them.
There are different ways to ask for a review, though. And sometimes it takes a few reminders before you get a new review. Combining in-person requests with automated emails is a common and effective way to boost reviews and increase the park’s TripAdvisor ranking, and ultimately generate more bookings.
For more on how to improve your marketing plan, subscribe to the Adventure Park Insider newsletter, and look out for more articles in the Insider Marketing series where we dive into the tactics and tools needed to successfully generate more bookings and make happy customers.