Travel
Christine Peterson

TripAdvisor has had a huge impact on the tourism industry since its launch in 2000, but has been hit by the issue of fake reviews. Director of TripAdvisor for Business, Christine Peterson, tells us how this is being addressed and what the company has planned for the next few years


What’s your assessment of the impact of TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor has had a remarkable influence on the travel industry, and the way people shop and research their trips has changed dramatically since we launched. Traveller reviews have become an essential part of consumers’ purchasing cycle.

We’re also seeing more and more travel brands embracing the power of our reviews through a variety of content syndication partnerships and review collection partnerships with TripAdvisor. We now have content syndication partnerships with over 500 marquee brands around the world, including Thomas Cook, Wyndham Hotel Group and British Airways.

How was the TripAdvisor for Business division born?
We launched the division in 2010. Although TripAdvisor had been around since 2000, we realised we needed to focus more attention on the industry and have a division in place to provide more resources for communicating with the hospitality sector.

TripAdvisor for Business focuses on helping hospitality businesses promote themselves to travellers online. The division has been responsible for a number of initiatives to help hospitality businesses thrive online, including the launch of the Management Centre, which gives owners access to a wide range of free tools and resources for promoting their businesses.

Other initiatives include Business Listings, our paid-for service for hoteliers and accommodation owners that enables hoteliers to add their direct contact details to their TripAdvisor property page and encourage more direct bookings. We also work with hospitality associations and tourism groups to educate hospitality business owners about the benefits of managing their online reputations. We’ve developed a series of Masterclasses and webinars through which we speak with hoteliers.

What else does the TripAdvisor for Business division do?
Once owners have registered in the Management Centre they can sign up for email notifications for when they receive a new review, analyse the feedback they receive from reviewers and compare their business’ performance with competitors.

I think one of the most important tools is the Management Response feature, which ensures that business owners are able to provide their side of the story and thank guests and customers for their feedback.

How are you addressing the problem of fake reviews?
We have a zero tolerance policy on fraud. If travellers didn’t trust our content, we wouldn’t have a business. The integrity of the content on TripAdvisor is fundamental to our success.
Every review or content element submitted must meet TripAdvisor’s guidelines, and any content found to be in breach of our guidelines will not be printed on the site.

We have three primary methods to manage the legitimacy of reviews. Firstly our systems. Reviews are systematically screened by our proprietary site tools that are frequently upgraded. Secondly our large and passionate community of more than 50 million monthly visitors help report suspicious content. Finally our Quality Assurance Teams investigate suspicious reviews flagged by our proprietary tools or community.

The sheer volume of reviews on TripAdvisor means that travellers can get a complete picture of a property, and make an educated decision before they book their trips.

How are reviews checked before being posted?
We dedicate an enormous amount of time and resource to managing the integrity of content. We have a team of nearly 100 working on this. Our systems, tools and approach include automated fraud filters, frequently updated, which check every piece of content submitted to the site.

We also encourage our community of travellers to let us know if they feel that a review doesn’t meet our guidelines and we ask businesses to report reviews they feel are suspicious or inappropriate through the Management Centre. Our dedicated content integrity team then investigates each and every report, and any content found to be in breach of our guidelines will ultimately be removed from the site.

How do you penalise businesses who misuse TripAdvisor?
We have various measures in place, which can include affecting their popularity rating on the site and posting public warning notices, known as ‘red badges’ on properties that have made attempts to manipulate their rating. The red badge alerts travellers viewing that property’s page that TripAdvisor has reasonable cause to believe the property may have interfered with reviews or their ranking and attempted to manipulate our system. We evaluate any situations like this on a case-by-case basis, but it’s important to note that the penalties for attempts at fraud can have a serious effect on a business’s reputation, and most owners realise the risk isn’t worth it.

How does TripAdvisor make money?
Click-based advertising accounts for the largest percentage of revenue; this is when the user clicks on the ‘show-prices’ (or ‘cost-per-click’) button, and then we pass those leads onto our OTA partners and hoteliers.

The next largest segment of revenue is display-based advertising; this is the sale of relevant, targeted advertising that enriches the user experience.

Finally, we have our subscription-based revenue, including business listings and vacation rentals.

What are your day to day responsibilities?
My focus is on the hospitality industry and developing TripAdvisor for Business to make sure we’re responding to the needs of the sector and continually innovating. I travel a lot and in any given month, I can be in Newton, London or Singapore, in product meetings or at a travel conference, planning launches in new markets or working with the TripAdvisor for Business team to develop an idea for a new service. No two days are the same, but I aim to connect with owners as often as I can.

How has TripAdvisor changed since you joined?
I started at TripAdvisor in 2004 to run marketing and product. When I first joined, we were located in an office near a railroad track where we were sharing space with acupuncturists and accountants, and next door to an auto body shop. We only had a few dozen employees at the time – but we had lots of passion and grand plans. Since then, we’ve grown dramatically – TripAdvisor is now the world’s largest travel site – although our principles are still very much the same.

I launched TripAdvisor’s marketing presence, including our PR efforts. Back then, it was on the phone, around the clock, just getting people interested in the site. Over the next few years, I oversaw growth in site traffic, revenue, content and membership, increasing user engagement and user-generated content. And in 2010, I took charge of launching TripAdvisor for Business – quite a journey.

What have been the biggest new developments for TripAdvisor?
We have launched ‘Local Picks’ which is a Facebook app that provides recommendations on where to eat from friends and locals. It is integrated with Facebook’s timeline as well so anyone who uses it can share their ratings and favourite places to eat with friends.

We’ve also developed new widgets and tools for business owners, including the Full Review Form and our Facebook integration application. The Full Review Form empowers hospitality business owners to collect more reviews directly from their customers, by embedding a TripAdvisor review form in their business’s website so customers can submit a review without leaving their site. The Facebook application is a simple way for owners to integrate their TripAdvisor content onto their Facebook page.

Is TripAdvisor using social networking in any other ways?
In 2010, we launched an integration with Facebook that instantly personalises the site for each person who visits. If you log in to TripAdvisor using your Facebook details, you’ll see reviews from friends first, the most popular destinations among your friends and an interactive social map. Last April we deepened this integration when we launched Friend of a Friend, which surfaces reviews from your friends’ friends on Facebook.

What drives you?
The travel industry is developing at a rapid pace with new trends emerging all the time – social media, mobile, new ways for people to shop and book – and TripAdvisor plays an important part in that evolution. I want to make sure we strive to stay ahead of the trends.

TripAdvisor for Business allows hoteliers to respond to feedback and thank guests who have reviewed their property
TripAdvisor is using social media to personalise customers’ experience of the site, by joining up with Facebook
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2013 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Christine Peterson

Travel

Christine Peterson


TripAdvisor has had a huge impact on the tourism industry since its launch in 2000, but has been hit by the issue of fake reviews. Director of TripAdvisor for Business, Christine Peterson, tells us how this is being addressed and what the company has planned for the next few years

Peterson has worked her way up from marketing officer to director of TripAdvisor for Business
TripAdvisor for Business allows hoteliers to respond to feedback and thank guests who have reviewed their property
TripAdvisor is using social media to personalise customers’ experience of the site, by joining up with Facebook

What’s your assessment of the impact of TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor has had a remarkable influence on the travel industry, and the way people shop and research their trips has changed dramatically since we launched. Traveller reviews have become an essential part of consumers’ purchasing cycle.

We’re also seeing more and more travel brands embracing the power of our reviews through a variety of content syndication partnerships and review collection partnerships with TripAdvisor. We now have content syndication partnerships with over 500 marquee brands around the world, including Thomas Cook, Wyndham Hotel Group and British Airways.

How was the TripAdvisor for Business division born?
We launched the division in 2010. Although TripAdvisor had been around since 2000, we realised we needed to focus more attention on the industry and have a division in place to provide more resources for communicating with the hospitality sector.

TripAdvisor for Business focuses on helping hospitality businesses promote themselves to travellers online. The division has been responsible for a number of initiatives to help hospitality businesses thrive online, including the launch of the Management Centre, which gives owners access to a wide range of free tools and resources for promoting their businesses.

Other initiatives include Business Listings, our paid-for service for hoteliers and accommodation owners that enables hoteliers to add their direct contact details to their TripAdvisor property page and encourage more direct bookings. We also work with hospitality associations and tourism groups to educate hospitality business owners about the benefits of managing their online reputations. We’ve developed a series of Masterclasses and webinars through which we speak with hoteliers.

What else does the TripAdvisor for Business division do?
Once owners have registered in the Management Centre they can sign up for email notifications for when they receive a new review, analyse the feedback they receive from reviewers and compare their business’ performance with competitors.

I think one of the most important tools is the Management Response feature, which ensures that business owners are able to provide their side of the story and thank guests and customers for their feedback.

How are you addressing the problem of fake reviews?
We have a zero tolerance policy on fraud. If travellers didn’t trust our content, we wouldn’t have a business. The integrity of the content on TripAdvisor is fundamental to our success.
Every review or content element submitted must meet TripAdvisor’s guidelines, and any content found to be in breach of our guidelines will not be printed on the site.

We have three primary methods to manage the legitimacy of reviews. Firstly our systems. Reviews are systematically screened by our proprietary site tools that are frequently upgraded. Secondly our large and passionate community of more than 50 million monthly visitors help report suspicious content. Finally our Quality Assurance Teams investigate suspicious reviews flagged by our proprietary tools or community.

The sheer volume of reviews on TripAdvisor means that travellers can get a complete picture of a property, and make an educated decision before they book their trips.

How are reviews checked before being posted?
We dedicate an enormous amount of time and resource to managing the integrity of content. We have a team of nearly 100 working on this. Our systems, tools and approach include automated fraud filters, frequently updated, which check every piece of content submitted to the site.

We also encourage our community of travellers to let us know if they feel that a review doesn’t meet our guidelines and we ask businesses to report reviews they feel are suspicious or inappropriate through the Management Centre. Our dedicated content integrity team then investigates each and every report, and any content found to be in breach of our guidelines will ultimately be removed from the site.

How do you penalise businesses who misuse TripAdvisor?
We have various measures in place, which can include affecting their popularity rating on the site and posting public warning notices, known as ‘red badges’ on properties that have made attempts to manipulate their rating. The red badge alerts travellers viewing that property’s page that TripAdvisor has reasonable cause to believe the property may have interfered with reviews or their ranking and attempted to manipulate our system. We evaluate any situations like this on a case-by-case basis, but it’s important to note that the penalties for attempts at fraud can have a serious effect on a business’s reputation, and most owners realise the risk isn’t worth it.

How does TripAdvisor make money?
Click-based advertising accounts for the largest percentage of revenue; this is when the user clicks on the ‘show-prices’ (or ‘cost-per-click’) button, and then we pass those leads onto our OTA partners and hoteliers.

The next largest segment of revenue is display-based advertising; this is the sale of relevant, targeted advertising that enriches the user experience.

Finally, we have our subscription-based revenue, including business listings and vacation rentals.

What are your day to day responsibilities?
My focus is on the hospitality industry and developing TripAdvisor for Business to make sure we’re responding to the needs of the sector and continually innovating. I travel a lot and in any given month, I can be in Newton, London or Singapore, in product meetings or at a travel conference, planning launches in new markets or working with the TripAdvisor for Business team to develop an idea for a new service. No two days are the same, but I aim to connect with owners as often as I can.

How has TripAdvisor changed since you joined?
I started at TripAdvisor in 2004 to run marketing and product. When I first joined, we were located in an office near a railroad track where we were sharing space with acupuncturists and accountants, and next door to an auto body shop. We only had a few dozen employees at the time – but we had lots of passion and grand plans. Since then, we’ve grown dramatically – TripAdvisor is now the world’s largest travel site – although our principles are still very much the same.

I launched TripAdvisor’s marketing presence, including our PR efforts. Back then, it was on the phone, around the clock, just getting people interested in the site. Over the next few years, I oversaw growth in site traffic, revenue, content and membership, increasing user engagement and user-generated content. And in 2010, I took charge of launching TripAdvisor for Business – quite a journey.

What have been the biggest new developments for TripAdvisor?
We have launched ‘Local Picks’ which is a Facebook app that provides recommendations on where to eat from friends and locals. It is integrated with Facebook’s timeline as well so anyone who uses it can share their ratings and favourite places to eat with friends.

We’ve also developed new widgets and tools for business owners, including the Full Review Form and our Facebook integration application. The Full Review Form empowers hospitality business owners to collect more reviews directly from their customers, by embedding a TripAdvisor review form in their business’s website so customers can submit a review without leaving their site. The Facebook application is a simple way for owners to integrate their TripAdvisor content onto their Facebook page.

Is TripAdvisor using social networking in any other ways?
In 2010, we launched an integration with Facebook that instantly personalises the site for each person who visits. If you log in to TripAdvisor using your Facebook details, you’ll see reviews from friends first, the most popular destinations among your friends and an interactive social map. Last April we deepened this integration when we launched Friend of a Friend, which surfaces reviews from your friends’ friends on Facebook.

What drives you?
The travel industry is developing at a rapid pace with new trends emerging all the time – social media, mobile, new ways for people to shop and book – and TripAdvisor plays an important part in that evolution. I want to make sure we strive to stay ahead of the trends.


Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 2

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