Following our article on why savvy TripAdvisor pubs have an advantage over competitors, we thought we’d help you join the collective…
…by demonstrating how to become one of those savvy TripAdvisor pubs.
These are the pubs which are successfully using TripAdvisor as a resource for attracting new customers into their establishment.
Despite the horror stories you might hear, it is entirely possible to make TripAdvisor work for you.
Besides, there’s a simple choice:
You can leave your TripAdvisor pub’s page unloved and exposed to the whims of the internet-arati.
You can take control of your listing, exhibit your pub in all its glory and transform it into a customer-cultivating resource.
In a second, I will demonstrate how to master TripAdvisor as a pub marketing tool in 6 practical, easy-to-follow steps, complete with examples from real-life TripAdvisor pub accounts. But first, I want to answer a question that might be bugging you.
“Why would anyone look at TripAdvisor before visiting a pub? I mean, it’s not like a restaurant or a hotel.”
There are numerous possibilities. A person might be:
New to the area and looking for the best pub to eat and drink.
Searching for a pub that can accommodate a birthday celebration.
Trying to locate the perfect pub for a first date.
Exploring their options for an informal business meeting.
- Seeking out the best pub for a staff get-together
The list could go on. What YOU need to know is that there will be potential customers who weigh-up their options before choosing a pub. And the most likely website they’ll turn to is TripAdvisor.
It’s the planet’s most popular website for reviewing destinations; a whopping 375 million unique visitors visit the site each month. And your pub will be listed on the site whether you like it or not.
So, in order to help you get the best out of it, I’m going to share with you the 6 key actions you must take in order to ensure your TripAdvisor pub’s page is a force for good publicity.
1. First, register your pub on TripAdvisor
Take ownership of your pub’s page by registering for free in the Trip Advisor Management Centre.
TripAdvisor provides an easy-to-follow quick start guide on how to register a business or take over an existing account.
Once signed up, you can edit your pub’s details on the profile page, add contact information, respond to reviews and access a number of free tools.
While TripAdvisor is a democratic forum where people openly express their opinions of businesses, by registering your pub with the site, you have some control of how your pub appears. And, of course, if someone leaves an offensive or slanderous comment – you have the power to dispute it.
2. Create enticing images
Images count for a lot. Marketing and online tourism expert, Frederico Gonzalo, wrote a detailed breakdown of a TripAdvisor study that revealed photos impact bookings more than reviews.
Hotels and restaurants were the focus of the research, but the same could be said about pubs.
What do you think?
Let’s have a look at 2 contrasting examples. The first is from The Lion pub in Bristol:
Visit the page and you’ll see many more enticing images that really want to make you visit. Contrast that with this pub page:
As yet, no photos. Yes, it’s received 4 ‘very good’ reviews, but the lack of images puts it at an immediate disadvantage. Based on these pages, which Bristol pub would you choose?
It’s important to note that the ambience of a pub is a major reason why people choose to visit. It’s often why people choose pubs over a restaurant or a stay-at-home dinner and a pint.
So, on your TripAdvisor page be sure to fully exhibit the splendour of your pub. Got a log fire? Take a picture and put it on the site. Got comfy seats? Upload the photo. Great bar area? Dining space? Pub garden? Happy staff? Prove it!
3. Provide a great customer experience
What’s the most effective way of getting positive reviews? Answer: Providing a great customer experience in the first place. It’s as simple as that.
Despite the stories you hear of anonymous people leaving borderline libellous comments (or downright bizarre ones – check this collection from the Telegraph!), the vast majority of people leave honest reviews on TripAdvisor. So, if you run a pub which provides great customer service, you’ve already succeeded in fulfilling a major part of what makes a successful TripAdvisor pub page.
Let’s break it down…
If someone makes a search for pubs in a particular town or city, you want to be near the top, right? Sticking with the example of Bristol pubs… here’s what a TripAdvisor user will see when they make a general search for pubs in Bristol:
The Lion pub in Bristol is top of the list. Exactly where you want your pub to be when someone searches for pubs in your area. It puts your pub right in front of a potential customer.
How do you get there? TripAdvisor does not reveal every single factor that contributes to its ‘Popularity Index algorithm’ – i.e. all the factors that gets a pub to the top of the ranking.
However, marketing specialist Carolyn Murphy offers detailed insights about the TripAdvisor ranking algorithm. She summarises that the three key ingredients for a high ranking are:
Quality – how positive are the reviews of your pub.
Quantity – how many reviews are there.
Recency – when were the most recent reviews.
What’s really interesting… is that Murphy’s research discovered out of these key ingredients, one is more powerful than the others.
Murphy’s conclusion is thus…
4. Encourage reviews from happy customers
Okay, so the quality of reviews is more important than the actual number of reviews you gather. However, it still remains one of the core elements of getting a high ranking for TripAdvisor pubs in your local area.
Besides, by gently encouraging reviews from happy customers, you’ll likely be getting positive reviews anyway.
There are two main ways of doing this:
1. Via customers in your pub
2. Via email communication or ‘Review Express’
Now, I understand that you don’t want to bother customers unduly about leaving reviews on a website. But there are certain opportune moments to suggest leaving a review.
For example, if a customer compliments your pub, whether it’s the food, drink, service or decor, why not then say:
“I’m really glad you liked ____ . By the way, we’re on TripAdvisor, should you ever get the urge to tell others about us…”
As ever, I don’t condone pushing a customer to do something for you. Which makes the context in which you ask – and the way that you ask – important. Keep it social and friendly. If they leave a review, great. If not, that’s fine also.
Other reminders require no effort at all. You can download a free TripAdvisor sticker to put in your pub’s window or on the door. It’s a handy little prompt. They might even write a review there and then on their phone.
TripAdvisor also features a handy free tool called Review Express…
Review Express features a selection of useful features, including email templates which enable you to send out professional looking emails. You will need to have gathered some of your customers email addresses to do this.
Here’s an example of how it works:
Do not bombard customers with emails, however. A Review Express email should ideally only be sent to a customer once.
If you need any help on how to gather customer details in a non-intrusive yet effective way, read our article on how to gather pub customer details.
How effective will it be? Review Express will let you know. Because included is information which tells you how successful your campaign to collect reviews has been. It will tell you: how many emails you’ve sent, how many emails have been opened by the customer, and how many reviews have been written as a result.
5. Respond to reviews… good, bad and unpleasant
Monitoring and responding to reviews on TripAdvisor is an important pub marketing duty for any landlord.
Simply by reading reviews give you useful insights into what patrons really think of your pub. They might highlight something that you need to address. It could relate to the décor, your product range or standards of customer service.
Responding is just as important. Thank those people who leave particularly positive feedback. Address those who leave critical comments. But you must get the tone right.
Be open, friendly and respectful – and don’t resort to corporate cliches. You’re not a megabucks souless corporation, you’re a living, breathing publican striving to make people happy when they visit your pub.
I want to show you this real-life example of how to handle criticism, courtesy of the Skinners Arms in London. First, here’s the criticism they received:
Pretty scathing, eh? Now, if the people at the Skinners Arms had left this comment without a response, it might well put you off from visiting. Nobody wants to visit a pub that serves rank beer!
Thankfully, they didn’t. Instead, manager Craig Wilson responded directly to the criticism in a constructive way…
The only thing I would add is an apology. Something like: ‘I’m sorry you had a bad pint’ followed by the explanation.
For more hints and tips on responding to online criticism, I recommend reading Mark Hayward’s useful 3-step approach.
6. Capitalise on free added extras or ‘widgets’
Make the most of TripAdvisor’s free ‘widgets’. By registering with TripAdvisor you can access a range of useful tools for your pub’s website. For example, one of these widgets displays the latest review you’ve received straight to your website.
I discovered a number of interesting tips from Migs Bassig at ReviewTrackers. His ‘8 Terrific TripAdvisor Tips’ included utilising TripAdvisor business cards which you can order from the site – an easy way of asking for reviews.
He also highlighted TripAdvisor’s press release template available to those who win TripAdvisor awards. They do the hard part and you can just have to send it out to the press!
Boost your pub marketing for free
Follow these tips and TripAdvisor will become a pub marketing tool that attracts new customers into your pub. The best bit is, it doesn’t cost a penny.
So, rather than fear TripAdvisor; use these tips and realise the marketing opportunities it offers.
Is there anything we’ve missed? Feel free to leave your TripAdvisor tips in the comments below. Alternatively, feel free to ask a question…