Have I mentioned lately that I’m completely obsessed with Trip Advisor? Because I am.
If you’re ever wondering, “what does Heather do in her spare time over there in Phnom Penh?”, one possible answer is “writing Trip Advisor reviews” (in fact, I just said to Kevin “shush, I’m writing a blog post about Trip Advisor reviews and he said “noooooooo! that’s the ultimate possible review review review”. So that should give a taste of how much time I spend writing Trip Advisor reviews).
We started using them for some basic restaurant research when we first moved to Phnom Penh, and were immediately impressed with the reliability of their reviews. We found one of our favourite restaurants, Brooklyn Pizza, by reading Trip Advisor reviews, and I immediately went home, signed up for Trip Advisor, and wrote a review describing that despite my skepticism about a pizza joint being top of the restaurants list in the city, it was a super great restaurant.
And it went from there. I’ve now written many reviews for hotels and restaurants in many different cities. Here’s a quick snapshot of my profile:
Why Trip Advisor? Why all the work? It’s not work! It’s fun! I swear!
Honestly, Trip Advisor is one slick operation when it comes to user engagement.
First, they got me completely hooked with their badges. Like all properly gamified systems, they started out with only a few requirements, and become gradually more difficult. Once I’d written one review, I knew I could get to 3 and become a “Reviewer”, and so on, and so forth. I’m now Senior Contributor, and actively working towards being a Top Contributor.
So, as you can see, I’ve been banging out these reviews pretty quickly. But it’s not just about numbers – it’s also about Helpful votes. That’s right, quality is also key. And I’m telling you now that getting an email saying someone clicked a button to indicate that my review was helpful is like crack. I make most of my reviews quite detailed, including all of the types of information that I look for in reviews: notes on bathroom quality, cleanliness, service, location/directions, hours; anything that you could only know by going to a place. And this is a key point: I get a lot of value out of the reviews I read on Trip Advisor, so I don’t mind (in fact, I’m glad to) writing my own good reviews. I find a lot of these reviews genuinely helpful, and as a regular traveller I know how difficult it can be to have guidance on where to eat/stay while abroad, so I’m glad to share my knowledge with others.
Here’s a snapshot of all the places where I’ve reviewed something:
Of course, there are other badges for writing reviews in multiple cities. In my quest to rise up the reviewer ranks and earn my “Passport” badge for having reviews in multiple cities, I wrote reviews for every place I’ve visited in the past year. This includes restaurants in Toronto, and places Kevin and I went on our trip to Portugal and London earlier this year. Hell, I even reviewed a place in San Francisco that we ate last year, just because it was so damn good and worthy of a good review.
I’ve also earned a “first to review badge” for creating a listing for and then reviewing Jack’s Place – the super remote bunch of cottages that Kevin and I
stayed at for a couple of days while visiting the Philippines. They have basically no online presence whatsoever, so I suspect that my review will be able to provide some helpful information for others looking to learn anything about this place.
Beyond their badges, Trip Advisor also totally rocks at user engagement through email marketing. They email me on a regular basis, sometimes about the success of my reviews or my progress as a Trip Advisor user, and sometimes with emails about interesting locations I might want to visit. If I read about a restaurant online? Or save it to one of my trips? They email me a few days later asking if I’d like to review it. Rarely are their emails out of place. Additionally, their emails are always quite lovely and actionable and sensible.
If you’re looking to research your next travel destination, or if you’re even just looking to study a great example of gamified user engagement, I highly recommend that you check out Trip Advisor ASAP.