Top Reviewers Explain How to Get Better TripAdvisor Reviews

By Taylor Odgers

Guest ExperienceGuest Experience

Woman smiling walking up stairs

When people are unsure about a decision, they are likely to turn to their peers for guidance. And when traveling to a new city there are a lot of unknowns. Which explains why review site/OTA TripAdvisor has become the second most popular travel app, boasting over 300 million users worldwide.

When asked by TripAdvisor, 93% of travelers said that a TripAdvisor ranking impacts their booking decisions. While half of online travelers claim to have written a review after taking a leisure trip in the past 12 months.

There’s no denying the influence of TripAdvisor reviews. But what influences a TripAdvisor member’s decision to leave a positive (or negative) review? We reached out to two of TripAdvisor’s top community contributors to find out.

TripAdvisor holds annual community awards, dubbed the “Ollies”, to honor the world’s top reviewers.

Susan (screen name “mini”) took home 3 Ollie’s in 2015 for U.S Review Contributor of the Year, the Travellers Choice Attractions Reviewer of the Year, and Photographer of the Year. To date, she’s left 5,217 reviews and has a following of 4,455,000 readers. She swears by the TripAdvisor forum when planning her trips saying she’s been blown away more than a couple times by recommendations from fellow travelers.

Bernardo (screen name “811BernardF”) holds the title for 2015 Accommodation Reviewer of the Year and in 2016 was named the World’s Top Reviewer. He’s left 5,355 reviews and has a following of 2,735,000 readers. He’s an advocate for the positive review and campaigns his friends to add good reviews to the mix.

When it comes to TripAdvisor reviews, these two are the experts. Here’s what they had to say when we asked them about their review process.

Checkfront: What motivates you to leave a review?

Susan: I like to share our travel experiences with others. It’s nice to help others in planning their trips. I have also learned a lot from the greater TripAdvisor community. They have been so helpful in us making the most out of our travels. So it’s nice to share with the TripAdvisor community as well as learn from them.

It’s also a way to let the business owners know what we liked and what we thought were areas of improvement. It’s nice when they give an online comment about my reviews. Some have given helpful suggestions on what we can do next time to have even a nicer stay. On a few, they have asked for more information and I have been most happy to provide. In general, I have found the business owners to be very appreciative of the information received.

Bernardo: I want to try to give readers of my review a decent picture of what they may expect at the hotel.  I hope to be objective and rate the hotel for what it is, and not my personal preferences affecting the rating. Another main reason that I see so many ridiculous reviews on a property complaining about reasons not even related to the property like “they refused me a room because my credit card was declined” and so on.  I hope that my adding a more objective review will help the overall picture of the property.

What motivates me to write a great review is most likely how beautiful the property was, the value for it, and more often than not, a staff member, or members, that make a positive impression on me by their genuine care and concern for me as a guest. Sometimes it’s just them going out of their way a little to help me out, or responding quickly and efficiently to an issue.

Report on TripAdvisor review progress

Checkfront: Is there any interaction after your stay that makes you want to leave a review?

Susan: In general I just like using TripAdvisor but it always leaves a smile on my face when business owners are helpful and suggest writing a review. Some ways that I’ve seen them ask are: displaying the TripAdvisor logo on their property or website, asking in person, or in follow up emails.

Bernardo: I now always leave a review, but I’m often prompted to leave a review for a service if I get an email after my stay/dinner/rental/flight thanking me for it and offering a link to rate the experience.

Positive TripAdvisor review of Cathedral City: Town Square Park

Checkfront: Does responding to negative TripAdvisor reviews ever get you to change your mind?

Susan: In terms of changing the content I did that once. There was a mix up in the information provided.  I changed my review based on a lengthy conversation with them. In general, if I have had a bad situation at a hotel I generally let them know then and there. It’s easier for me to address this in person. If they address the concern I’ll add that to my review. If they don’t I will usually comment more strongly in my review about the problem.

Bernardo: For me, I write a negative review if something went wrong and after reporting it, the hotel didn’t respond properly, adequately or maybe even at all to the issue.  I always try to give them a chance to fix something. I understand mistakes can happen and try to really decide whether or not it was just an oversight or a systemic problem. But if the response to me is only after I’ve already done a negative review, (or after I mention that I’ll write a negative review) I don’t usually retract. But in most cases, I’d try the property again to see if I’d rate it higher the next review.

Bernando F's TripCollective Progress

Checkfront: What things do you take into account when leaving a review?

Susan: I generally try to leave a summary of the place or attraction we stayed at. I will let people know what we enjoyed and usually take photos. I take in account customer service, especially for lodging and restaurants. Ease of booking – I try to tell people how I made my reservation.

Bernardo: I try to rate the property based on the type/class of property it is. Meaning, if it’s a 1-star property, I’m not expecting, or missing 5-star property amenities and rating the property down because they’re not there. Then I look at how the property looks and is maintained, is it older or remodeled. How I was treated by the staff and most certainly how clean and comfortable the room was and what amenities it included. I mention if it was close to shopping, restaurants, or transportation, I also mention the noise level in and around the hotel. Noise level most often gets a lower rating if it’s something the hotel can help like bad door closers or thin windows. I also mention if there were issues that were taken care of and how that process went or didn’t go. Price is usually so relative for people, so I try to give it a “low, good, or high for the area and type of property” type of mention.

Checkfront: What part of the experience are you most critical of?

Susan: Safety, which I rarely encounter since I look out for any red flags in the reviews. And bad customer service.

Bernardo: Cleanliness and comfort are high on my list. And they are things the hotel can definitely do something to make sure they’re providing. I’m also pretty critical of how the staff responds to an issue.

Positive TripAdvisor review of Burlington: Candlewood Suites Boston-Burlington

Checkfront: What is something that has blown you away about an experience?

Susan: Usually it’s just the small stuff done right. I recently was at a hotel with a complimentary Happy Hour and a staff member quickly became my employee of 2017. She was so nice about pouring the wine and coming over and asking if she could pour some more. She showed genuine interest in our day – without interfering. She was amazing. So awesome customer service will “blow” me away.

Bernardo: Experiences that come to mind all include staff interactions. I’m usually impressed when the front desk will remember, and address me by, my name later in the stay.  Probably top on my list was in Warsaw, Poland. The staff was so friendly that they invited us out to have drinks and dinner with them one evening to give us a true flavor of the city.  


1. Ask guests to leave a review

Don’t leave things to chance. Both Susan and Bernardo said that they like it when a host asks them to leave a review. So don’t be afraid to remind guests that you are on TripAdvisor. We have just the advice for that: how to encourage TripAdvisor reviews.

2. Address concerns head on

Susan and Bernardo agree on this one as well. It’s better to address guest concerns as quickly as possible. How you respond to the issue has more of an impact than the issue happening in the first place.

3. Customer service is king

The best way to ensure a positive review on TripAdvisor is with great customer service. Simply remembering someone’s name can go a long way!

Want to learn more about online reviews? 

Download our guide on managing reviews.

And learn how to earn trust online and increase bookings with social proof.