It’s no secret that hoteliers fixate on TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index. The better your hotel’s reviews, the higher your ranking. The higher your ranking, the more your hotel gets in front of potential guests. So you might be surprised to learn how quickly that all-powerful metric is losing relevancy. TripAdvisor is looking beyond the popularity index in pursuit of smarter, more personalized hotel recommendations… and the revenues that go with them.

TripAdvisor aspires to do what sites like Kayak have done all along: book rooms. More importantly, TripAdvisor thinks it can do it better. The ceiling is much higher for a site that can serve a consumer throughout the entire planning process, from research to reservation. That’s where TripAdvisor’s integration with social networks comes into play with the new “Just For You” feature that was just rolled out on the hotel review website.

With Facebook announcing its completion of indexing over a trillion posts, it’s clear that social networks know our digital doppelgängers inside and out. By leveraging data from social networks as well as its own trove of review data, TripAdvisor can identify the hotels most likely to appeal to a given consumer. Each additional data point—habits, preferences, interests— can increase an OTA’s conversion rate.

“With the new feature, we not only match a traveler with their preferred type of hotel, but we can specifically suggest the trendy, boutique hotel located downtown with a swimming pool because we know those are the specific hotel characteristics you like,” says Adam Medros, TripAdvisor’s senior vice president of global product.

This is a big deal for hoteliers. The “Just For You” feature creates personalized results for every single potential traveler who visits TripAdvisor’s website. That means hotels with a well-connected social presence have a good chance of appearing on the coveted first page of search results for their target guest. Of course this is dependent upon building a strong, engaged, and authentic presence on social networks such as Facebook, and responding to reviews on TripAdvisor.

Potential guests searching for a hotel in Miami aren’t as likely to see the top overall hotel as they are to see most relevant hotel based on their social-media and TripAdvisor history. Everyone gets their own personalized favorite.

The bottom line is, hotels can’t afford to fixate on TripAdvisor’s flashy-but-fizzling popularity index. TripAdvisor is thinking bigger and as a result, reputation management efforts need to take into account factors like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in real time. In 2015 and beyond, the connections made with social media will be paramount to success.

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