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How Travelers Interpret Reviews: Get The Facts

Want to know how travelers assess and react to reviews of your property on TripAdvisor? You’ll find real insight in research findings conducted by three independent professional bodies*.

Fact 1: Today’s traveler places growing importance on independent customer reviews

The growing sophistication of travel marketing has created more sophisticated travel consumers, who cut through the hype and seek out independent opinions and reviews. In a survey¹, 81% of travelers said reviews were important when deciding which hotel to book, and almost half said they wouldn’t book a hotel unless it had reviews.

Fact 2: Fifty million travelers value TripAdvisor reviews

Did you know that TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel website, attracting 50 million unique users every month²? This user loyalty testifies to the usefulness of our traveler reviews and opinions.  According to a recent PhoCusWright study commissioned by TripAdvisor³, 98% of respondents found TripAdvisor reviews to be accurate of the actual experience; and 89% of respondents agreed that TripAdvisor hotel reviews “Help me plan a better trip”.

Fact 3: Travelers turn to the ‘wisdom of the crowds’

Recent research supports what we at TripAdvisor have always maintained: travelers form an educated view based on the opinions of many. A survey conducted by Forrester Consulting¹ found that 77% of travelers usually ignore extreme comments about properties and base their assumptions on a general assessment of customer responses (as well as property photos and descriptions).

Fact 4: Travelers appreciate a Management Response

While no single hotel review may be decisive for a traveler, we’re aware that the reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor are important to properties listed on the site. Ensuring the honesty of all reviews – and preventing fraud – is our top priority. While no system is perfect, and the anonymity and open access of the Internet offers its own challenges, TripAdvisor has adopted an extremely detailed, sophisticated and frequently updated process to screen review submissions.  Hoteliers also have the right to dispute any comments (contact Customer Services: 1-617-431-5424 (US, Canada) or +44 203 318 5019 (UK, Australia, India)), as well as the right to reply – in a Management Response. When an owner responds promptly and professionally to a review, addressing any specific complaints as well as the positive comments, a Management Response can be very effective. In fact, 71% of surveyed travelers¹ª found them to be very persuasive.


*The three research companies were Forrester Consulting, comScore Media Metrix and PhoCusWright
¹ “TripAdvisor Custom Online Survey 2010”, conducted by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by TripAdvisor
¹ªQuestioned in relation to a specific review from an official hotel rep. Survey by Forrester Consulting, as above.
²Source: comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide, August 2011
³According to a July 2011 PhoCusWright survey of 3,641 respondents. Participants for the study were solicited at random through a pop-up invitation link on

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Excellent explanation on how TripAdvisor users interpret posted reviews!!! I would like to ask, what is the criteria to accept or dismiss a review? Some clients of my restaurant have email me telling me that their reviews don’t show on TripAdvisor! What can I tell them?

    March 2, 2012
    • tripadvisor4biz #

      Hi Gustavo,

      Thanks for your comment. Traveler reviews on TripAdvisor must meet some
      basic criteria to ensure that they are accurate, appropriate, and relevant.
      Every review must consist of original content from a real traveler who
      recently visited the property about which they are writing. Reviewers must
      also provide a valid e-mail address and adhere to normal e-mail etiquette in
      writing their review, which must be family-friendly and free of
      inappropriate language. To read our traveler review guidelines in full,

      March 2, 2012
  2. I would like to know how properties are ranked. Smaller properties with fewer overall reviews than we have good reviews have higher rankings than we do in our category. This has hardly changed, in spite of a collection of –insolicited!–great reviews in the past two months.

    March 6, 2012
    • tripadvisor4biz #

      Hi there —

      The details of the popularity algorithm are proprietary, but the three key factors are the quantity, quality, and age of reviews, with more recent reviews carrying more weight.
      We encourage businesses to remind recent guests to write reviews, and keep that fresh content rolling in. Thanks for your question!

      March 6, 2012
  3. TA, your guideline “Every review must consist of original content from a real traveler who recently visited the property about which they are writing” was not followed in a negative review for our property. We tried to ge you to remove it and you refused. The person who wrote the negative review had a phone conversation with our inn and had never stayed with us.

    March 6, 2012
  4. Good info, thanks!

    March 7, 2012
  5. It seems that the negative reviews stay on top about my resort and it’s the first thing travelers read and opposes your statement that more recent reviews are on top of the list. I also want to know how to get rid of negative reviews esp. when they are frivolous, demeaning and unreasonable. Next I find that those negative reviews are not submitted to us before publication on your site for a defense or the simple fact that guests leaving those negative reviews never contacted my staff or me with their complaints so we could have done something to remedy the situation.

    March 8, 2012
  6. We just had a review of our family run hotel that really goes beyond the acceptable norms for a constructive review
    . To the point we have had 4 cancelations since it was posted last week. This is very damaging to a small business like ours I think most people will be able to read between the lines but in the meantime we are suffering as a result . Is there any way we can have a review removed . I truely believ in the concept of free speach but this is taking it too far.
    Gary Rogers

    March 8, 2012
    • tripadvisor4biz #

      Hi Gary —

      I am sorry to hear this. You do have the option to dispute the review through your Management Center (click on “Manage your Reviews”). I’d also recommend that in the meantime you write a management response to share your side of the story. Management responses can be very powerful tools. We have published a guide with tips on creating effective management responses, which you can find here:


      March 9, 2012
  7. Thanks for the info. One comment related to the rankings, and continuing on the Irving House inquiry above…

    While I certainly appreciate that the popularity algorithm is propriety, and unpublished…..the mention that the “more recent reviews carry more weight” is both interesting and good to know.

    I would question however, just how much more weight recent reviews are given(?)…..Not expecting the answer, but it may be disproportional. I’ve seen evidence where a new property or business suddenly outranks another one simply from having a rash of recent reviews….Even though the other business has many more reviews (of equal quality….ie. majority excellent).

    So, point being – Not sure it makes sense for a new entity, which has 20 reviews (granted – very recent, and positive) to be able to usurp / outrank an operation that has 150+ of equal quality reviews over a longer period of time? (The real example from above).

    Back to the quality, and quantity factors – Seems that consistent delivery of quality (over time) should count for a fair amount. Should it not?

    I also appreciate that new businesses deserve a fighting chance to be recognized, and established business can’t rest on their laurels….but it does appear that “recent reviews” may have excessive influence on rankings.


    March 9, 2012
  8. Thanks so much for all this information. We have loved the positive comments about Queenstown Country Lodge and appreciate the extra effort some of our guests have gone to in placing their feedback on Trip Advisor. So far so good, but as we have just opened in late October I do hope Trip Advisor has processes in place to ensure only authentic resaponses are listed.
    Thanks once again for this great marketing opportunity. It is all about building faith in your product.

    March 9, 2012

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