How to win on TripAdvisor

Win on TripAdvisor
Winning on TripAdvisor

It’s great to see so many small businesses flourishing on TripAdvisor with the recent Certificates of Excellence. What does it take to get one? We are privileged to have a special view of the accommodation business chatting to thousands of owners across the world. On the whole customers openly share their success to help others get ahead.

When you look around at the independent B&Bs and guest houses that are winning there are a few things that seem to make all the difference to their guests.

Their welcome is warm, friendly, unique – it sets the tone for the stay. You, the host, make all the difference…. unlike some large corporate hotel chains where you’re “checked-in” by a machine ! That’s a huge advantage straight away, use that encounter to understand the guest, they are all different – some want to chat, take advice etc. others may not.

They have a small “flourish” at check-in that’s worth it’s weight in gold….a fresh pot of tea, some home baking, interesting events for them to see, something local ?

Their “wow factor” often comes from plain old attention to detail. Having everything spotless is a good starting point and then its lots of very small things done well….that add up.  In elite sports it’s called “marginal differences” i.e. the type of bed the athlete sleeps on, the liquids they drink, the make up of their diet, added together all of these 100s of things can mean the difference between a gold or silver medal on the day!

They are “great” at something (most people are!) and they show it off, differentiating themselves from the “crowd” and creating a memorable experience…something guests want to tell their friends about.  It could be flower arranging, local history, gardening, baking bread, carpentry, telling jokes….

They think of their guest all the way, anticipating their needs….if they are in a “walking Focus on Successarea” they provide advice or maps, if guests need to eat out they know which restaurants do what food best.  By spending time with their guests they are better able to understand how to make their stay just that little bit more memorable.

If you do all this you need to understand that although this level of “service” is natural to you it is also a real part of your marketing plan, so make the most of it.  Ask for a review and respond to them on TripAdvisor (all types), it shows you care but it’s also a fantastic source of marketing information. You will find out what “made the difference” in the eyes (and words) of your guests.

Essentially, “the host” seems to make the difference, not the free wi-fi or parking, so organising your time around the guest is critical. The best in the game know this, they clear their “admin” desk, use technology to the max – they don’t waste time processing bookings, typing in payments, updating booking systems …. instead they invest the time saved delivering a friendly, unique and memorable experience… it pays off!

Some winning accommodation owners case studies for further reading

Maxwell’s Piece B&B in Cotswolds
Glangwili Mansion in Carmarthen
Millgate B&B in Masham
Lincoln Yurts Glamping

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13 thoughts on “How to win on TripAdvisor

  1. How do I send guests, who e-mail or phone me directly, a sage pay link so that they can leave their card details themselves securely?


    1. Click on any booking in the diary, then click on “FabPay” you will see an orange button (Email Payment Link) click this to send a payment link to your customer.

  2. We are very young, less than one year old business but growing well. Wish to obtain the award by catering quality service. Thanks for Trip Advisor for our worldwide promotions.

  3. I read the focus On success story to my partner, Suzanne and she thought it was written for us! She says I don’t have OCD, I have ATD attention to detail and this certainly is the ‘wow’ factor. We have recently won the AA friendliest B&B of Great Britain 2015/16. You do not buy friendly or advice, help, care, anticipating your guests next move, that has to be natural, like a smile. Regadless of your price a guest will be happy to pay providing they have had value for money. The value comes free to both and it is the importance of making your guests feel special. It would be easy to buy scones or bread but making it shows the guest that extra mile you have gone to. You do not have to point these extras out as most are wise to notice and compliment you and that’s when you know you are going in the right direction. Re-investing is important to keep yourself where you want to be. The biggest detail we are always aware of is keeping up with the IT world. TripAdvisor, websites, booking systems, Facebook, Twitter and the list goes on. We recently had our website updated, it was beginning to look a little tired. A little like washing your car to keep it looking good. How many times have you seen a website picture only to turn up and it is not the same! Each year we have a project. This year is a short two minute YouTube film linked to our site. Using a professional film company to use a drone so guests can see the surrounding area makes for the ETD as Sue would say! We have again won a 2015 TripAdvisor certificate excellence. Not necessarily easy to achieve, but harder to keep up each year. Good luck to all those little B&B’s like ours that offer a great service as the hotels do but without the price but loaded with good service.

    1. Graham you have hit the nail on the head. Its all the little things that you can do for a guest that add up to the big scores in their eyes. Baking your own bread, giving a lift to the shops, noticing meal preferences etc… all go to make a guest feel special. Thanks for the post great advice on ATD

  4. We just received a certificate of excellence today from TripAdvisor. We are so thrilled and excited and didn’t expect it.
    With all the bookings being taken care of by freetobook, it gives us more time to spend with the customers. Thank you all at freetobook, we couldn’t have done it without you.

    1. Hey, you are very kind. We do our best to make the booking world rock and we have some fantastic customers, well done on your award.

  5. It is all about expectations. Give them just enough to encourage a booking then wow them with the attention to detail and attention to themselves. They are really impressed when they arrive to a cheery welcome and come to realise that there are no problems during their stay, just solutions. They end up feeling so special that this is their overriding memory of their stay and any negatives pale into insignificance instead of becoming a major issue. I just love the way they arrive, a little nervous and then happily relax and chill. It is a skill that is definitely learned through experience but works it’s magic, time and time again.

    1. Thanks Sue, great points about the cheery welcome and the hospitality skills that hosts can learn. Turning guests stay into a special and positive experience is a wonderful gift.

  6. A very pertinent blog post about how to “make the difference” to your guests and one we can well relate to.
    We have now won the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for the last four years running here in our Bed and Breakfast in Spain, and certainly agree that it is the personal things you do for the guests that make the difference. We always offer some refreshments as soon as they arrive, for example – making sure tea is on offer for our English guests!
    Another great thing is to offer a free lift into the nearby town if they don’t have a rental car – this can often be done at the same time as we are going anyway – or a collection from the station if they are coming by train.
    As you say, it is the small personal extras that can make such a difference and make you stand out from the corporate big names!

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