By Percy Roxas.
He is the commercial director of TripAdvisor for Business in Asia Pacific. In this role, Lewis Ng is charged with building and developing TripAdvisor as an essential marketing tool for tourism businesses in the region, focusing on revenue growth but also working to establish its presence as a key industry player in Asia-Pacific.
“I’m pleased to say that while I’ve been with Trip Advisor for just over 18 months we’ve already seen a tremendous amount of growth and success, said the Singapore-based Ng who obviously enjoys utilizing his skills and knowledge in the sales and media space and working more closely with the travel industry in the fast-growing Asia Pacific markets. TripAdvisor seems to really resonate with both travelers and the industry.”
TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site, with websites in 30 countries and in 21 different languages. The site carries over 75 million reviews and opinions and counts over 60 million unique monthly users from around the world. The scale and the quality of its content give it a great deal of credibility for travelers all over the world as the “go-to site” for anyone planning a trip.
The site began in 2000 when CEO Stephen Kaufer was trying to book for a trip and couldn’t find any feedback based on the experiences of people who have actually been (and stayed at hotels) in areas he was looking at. He decided to fill the void in the marketplace, and over the past 12 years, TripAdvisor has grown into the popular travel website that many people use today.
“We have over 1.6 million businesses on the site in over 110,000 destinations with over 11 million candid traveler photos and more than 50 new contributions per minute,” Ng points out. “We have reviews on businesses in every country of the world and have reviews written by members from 99 percent of the world’s countries.”
What is the secret to Trip Advisor’s overwhelming success? “With so much choice and with travel expenditure and holiday time being so precious, today’s travelers really want to make sure that they’re choosing the right places to stay, eat and things to do that are right for them,” explains Ng. “TripAdvisor helps give this confidence as it covers so many businesses across the world with remarkable scale of traveler feedback – more than 75 million reviews and opinions.”
A recent Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report shows that 70% of respondents trust consumer opinions posted on TripAdvisor, second only to ‘Recommendations from people I know’ as a trusted form of advertising.
“When you consider this,” says Ng, “it’s clear how important awards and accolades from sites like TripAdvisor can be for a business. Awards such as the Certificate of Excellence and the Travelers’ Choice® awards are earned through achieving consistently high ratings from the people who matter most to a business: guests, patrons, and customers.”
“The way people shop and research purchases has dramatically changed over the past 10 years,” Ng explains. “Now, travelers can make a decision on choosing somewhere that’s right for them based on the experiences of many. They can read reviews by type of stay – for example, romance or business – see the profiles of the reviewers to see if they have similar profiles to themselves or just be inspired by the more than 11 million photos on the site. TripAdvisor’s business mode is a perfect fit for today’s consumers. ”
Contrary to popular belief, Ng says, majority of TripAdvisor reviews are positive: just over four out of a possible five. Their studies also show that the major reason travelers cite for writing reviews stems from the desire to share a good experience with other travelers.
Integrity of the content on TripAdvisor is fundamental to their success. “We understand the importance the reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor have to both travelers and hospitality businesses listed on the site, and we dedicate an enormous amount of time and resource to managing the integrity of content,” he says.
According to a recent PhoCusWright survey, 98% of respondents agree that the hotel reviews on TripAdvisor are accurate of the actual experience.” Indeed, every review submitted to the site must meet their guidelines, and any content found to be in breach of guidelines are not printed. Also, they independently endorse review integrity processes, which include automated fraud filters, frequently updated, which check each piece of content submitted to the site. A dedicated content integrity team investigates suspicious reviews.
One of TripAdvisor’s key aims, Ng says, is to innovate and continue to grow within the world of online marketing and social media. “We look at things from a user’s perspective. If I’m researching a trip and hoping to book a hotel, information from other travelers who have been somewhere before can only help me to make the best decision to suit my needs,” he says. Some key features they’ve developed over recent years include the Facebook (FB) integration, whereby if you log in to TripAdvisor via FB account you’ll see reviews from your friends and their friends. Their popular mobile apps, including city guides, give offline access to the best of 50 key cities around the world.
“We are constantly enhancing the site and developing our offers for both travelers and hospitality business owners, and mobile and social are two areas in which we hope to grow significantly in the near future. We hope to offer travelers a more personalized experience and to educate hospitality business owners on how to manage their online reputations, and maximize their presence on TripAdvisor.”
Recently TripAdvisor launched a Business Industry Index survey, which Ng says, “is the largest hotel survey in the world with responses from over 25,000 global accommodation owners — .and the results were very interesting: Thailand’s hoteliers ranked highest in Asia and third in the world in terms of job creation. As for social media marketing, Asian markets are progressive, with Malaysia (89%) topping the rankings followed by Indonesia (84%) and Thailand (80%) in using social media to attract visitors. (Visit the TripAdvisor website for the complete results of the survey.)
“TripAdvisor wants to ensure it is providing both travelers and hospitality business owners with the best possible experience,” says Ng. “We look forward to more innovation, launching new products and services and exploring the fast-growing world of social and mobile integration.”