TripAdvisor is a master of traveler engagement. The company thrives when users consult the website for every hotel purchasing decision, and therefore has a completely vested interest in ensuring active hotel profiles within a thoughtful user experience.

The company analyzed data from a sample of properties across the 25 most reviewed cities during the period of July 7 to August 7 of this year. This extended timeframe delivered insight into how management responses affect review ratings. The actual content on the listing page – photos, videos, rate of response – can then be compared to overall engagement, as defined by page views per session and the number of booking inquiry clicks.

Grenoble House on TripAdvisor

The following is what the analysis determined.

The top factors that drive the most engagement on accommodation pages, in order of impact, are:

Number of photos. Total number of reviews. Management responses in the past year. Number of reviews in the past year.

More photos!

Note that the most impactful section of a hotel’s listing is one in complete control by the property. There’s no excuse to not have more photos of a property – it’s a relatively affordable and straightforward way to increase engagement without having to solicit reviews through an active marketing effort.

As the company emphasizes in the release sharing the research:

Photos are essential, driving not only higher levels of engagement from travellers but also leading to more potential bookings. Just going from not showing any photos to having photos on hotel and B&B pages results in 138 percent more engagement from travelers.

Here’s how the number of photos increases engagement levels, when compared to properties with no photo at all:

Properties with at least 1 photo: 138 percent increase in engagement. Properties with over 100 photos: 151 percent increase in engagement. Properties with over 1000 photos: 203 percent increase in engagement.

Of course, management is not likely going to be able to deliver over 1,000 photos on its own, and users are more apt to trust a variety of photos from all kinds of guests. Hotel marketers should therefore focus not only on soliciting reviews, but also the sharing of photos on TripAdvisor.

This increased engagement then leads to more interest in actually booking a property, which pans out like this when compared to having no photos whatsoever:

Properties with at least 1 photo: 225 percent increase in likelihood of booking enquiry. Properties with over 100 photos: 238 percent increase in likelihood of booking enquiry.

One of the toughest tasks in hospitality is responding to negative reviews – it’s easy to take strength and share thanks for a positive review, so it’s the negative reviews that really demonstrate a grasp of true hospitality. It’s also one of the most fraught and potentially demotivating tasks for management – it’s impossible to fix something that has already occurred and made it into a review, and yet this review is now permanently public for everyone to see.

That’s why the management response is essential. Not only does it address an individual guest’s experience, but it also shows a potential guest that management is active and engaged with the guest experience.

From the research:

The more reviews the manager responds to, the higher the average review rating. The level of engagement from travelers also increases with the presence of management responses – hotels and B&Bs that have responded to at least one review already see 17 percent more engagement from travelers compared to those with no management responses.

Properties that respond to reviews at least 13 percent of the time see a 21 percent boost in engagement compared to properties that do not respond at all. The increase in engagement trends upwards the more management responds.

In conclusion, notice how the trend moves as far as the average review versus the actual rate of management response:

0% response rate = 3.81 average review rating 5%-40% response rate = 4.04 average review rating 40% – 65% = 4.05 average review rating 65%+ response rate = 4.15 average review rating

Original author: Nick Vivion