How Do Meeting Planners Use TripAdvisor?

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Planners share advice on how to put TripAdvisor’s crowd-sourcing data to work for them.

We asked meeting planners when they click on TripAdvisor—and how it helps in their jobs.

With over 795 million reviews, TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel information platform.

Look for patterns

Lori W. Hedrick, meeting professional, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, is wary of one-off complaints. “I tend to overlook negative comments unless there are multiple complaints about a particular issue…especially serious things like stained bedspreads or bugs in the room.”

Focus on business travelers

People have very different expectations, depending on the purpose of the trip and how sophisticated they are as travelers, said Hedrick. “I focus on comments by business travelers. (TripAdvisor allows users to sort by “Traveler Type” as well as specific concerns such as “front desk” or “service.”)

Ignore the irrelevant

“Our attendee experience is about education, the conference facilities and catering. I try not to pollute my read on a place with vacation experience reviews,” said Kyle F. Jordan, director of conferences and meetings, Financial Planning Association. “Our attendees may never eat in a food outlet or use the recreational facilities so I focus on conference attendee feedback.” (Although TripAdvisor does not count meetings, etc. as a traveler type, planners can search by keywords such as “conference” or “convention.”)

Key in on priorities

High service levels and making guests feel like VIPs are core to incentives, said Sandra Daniel, president and CEO, Fire Light Group. “If there is a single complaint about a particular incident, I tend to dismiss it more readily than if someone says that overall service levels are poor or that the front desk never picks up the phone. Similarly, a vacationer might complain about what things cost, while an incentive guest is thrilled to order $15 drinks when someone else is picking up the tab.”

TripAdvisor can’t replace due diligence

There are things you can’t know without physically seeing a property, said Daniel. “In five minutes, we can usually know if there is a fit.” It is also helpful to check in with industry peers and go on group fams. “Although they roll out the red carpet, we still see how they handle group meals, movement of luggage… they cannot mask real systemic issues. Then, I can go to TripAdvisor and see that yes, there were complaints about the front desk.”

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