How reliable are TripAdvisor reviews?

Since its launch in February 2000, travelers and hoteliers have attempted to better understand just how accurate the reviews at TripAdvisor truly are. 

Jonathan Barksy and Robert Honeycutt of Market Metrix, who's specialty happens to be hospitality feedback, compared 12-months of TripAdvisor reviews against their firm's proprietary index to find that – generally speaking – aggregate TripAdvisor review scores tend to be accurate

The hotels used in this comparison were selected on the basis of their location, brand and type to achieve a diverse mix. Each hotel also must have received a sufficient number of responses. Statistical analysis was conducted to compare the similarity of scores for each hotel, the distribution of the data, and the change in scores.

The most significant conclusion of this study is that the mean scores of hotels track very consistently and closely between TripAdvisor (CSI) and MMHI. This indicates that, when taken as a whole, the reviews for a particular hotel are a reliable measure of average customer satisfaction of that hotel, given adequate sample size. However, the variability of scores was found to be slightly greater among TripAdvisor hotels. TripAdvisor reviews were more spread out with more high scores and more low scores. While some persons may appreciate reading a wider range of reviews about a hotel, extreme observations may be distracting or even distort consumer perception.

(emphasis added above)

In other words, there are some reviews on TripAdvisor that – regardless of the hotel – simply aren't accurate. Individual reviews can skew negative or positive as a byproduct of an emotional experience. For example, receiving an amenity from the hotel to mark a special visit may elicit a more positive reaction on TripAdvisor than having a hotel misplace a guest's laundry.

On the whole, however, the median score for an individual hotel tends to be accurate and in line with established industry metrics for guest satisfaction.

 

Travel Trends for China's Millionaires

The Hurun Research Institute has released The Chinese Luxury Travel White Paper, giving insight into the preferences of China's luxury consumers.

The study, which was created from one-on-one interviews with 463 Chinese millionaires and billionaires, sheds new light onto how the wealthiest Chinese make travel decisions.

I found several details to particularly interesting, including:

  • Chinese millionaires average 15 days of vacation annually, including three trips abroad. One-third will take more than 20 days of vacation per year and 20% will travel abroad five or more every year.
  • France is now the top travel destination, followed by the United State (which had been #1 in 2009 and 2010), Australia, Japan, and the Maldives. 
  • 4 out of 5 millionaires consider sending their children overseas for education, with the US, UK and Canada topping the list. 
  • 80% of Chinese millionaires prefer to travel on their own rather than with a tour group.
  • 57% of the ultra-wealthy make their own travel arrgangements using a travel agent or professional website.
  • Only 11% of Chinese millionaires book travel through a hotel website. 
  • When choosing where to stay, brand is the most important factor, followed by service, facilities, and location.
  • The preferred hotel brands of Chinese millionaires are Shangri-La, Hilton, Park Hyatt and The Ritz-Carlton. 

For US hotel companies seeking to gain a toe-hold in the Asian travel market, this study gives actionable insight in how to market to ultra-wealthy Chinese. 

For example, with such a large number of Chinese considering an overseas education for their children, do you think proximity to major universities would be a consideration for the guest? If so, do your professional travel agents have a list of area universities? Is this information detailed on the top-performing international travel websites? 

With such a high percentage of millionaires preferring to travel without a group, is your hotel prepared to host a single Chinese family? Without a group guide as a primary communicator for the guests, are your facilities and staff prepared to service a Chinese guest? For example, do you have community maps and guides printed in simplified Chinese? Are your restaurant and in-room dining menus availble in multiple languages? Do you provide multiple Mandarin television channels? Do you provide currency exhange services? 

I think this study is truly fasciniating. Hotels and brands that implement these insights in their service standards and marketing stand to gain marketshare in this rapidly emerging market.