How does the TripAdvisor ranking work?

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash


We’ve already written about the importance of TripAdvisor and the data it contains. Even after so many years in business, it’s still king when it comes to travel reviews. Millions of people from all around the world use it every day. It only makes sense for a business listed on it to care about its performance which naturally begs the question:  is there a way to figure out how TripAdvisor ranking works?

It turns out, there is. TripAdvisor openly disclosed the three main principles it uses in its algorithm. They are:


1. Quality


First and foremost, TripAdvisor wants to protect its reputation as a review platform. It must do its ranking in a way that reflects customer sentiment. Rating (“bubbles” instead of stars) is used to determine how customers felt about the particular venue. All other things being equal, a business with better ratings will rank higher than others. Unfortunately, TripAdvisor can’t rely on ratings alone. If it did, venues with only a few 5 bubble ratings would be ranked highest. Not only that – venues whose service went downhill since their last customer ratings would still be considered better than others. At least until some new customer ratings throw them from the throne.

Not surprisingly, the reasons stated above made TripAdvisor consider other parameters besides quality in its algorithm.


2. Recency


TripAdvisor values recent reviews as more accurate than older ones. The value of ratings is therefore skewed in favor of more recent ones. However, the older ones are still visible and seem to carry some weight in the overall score.


Image by PatternPictures from Pixabay


The point here is that venues need to continuously provide good services for their customers if they want to keep high positions. Just like in real life, the only sustainable way for businesses to be ahead of their competition is to consistently be better than them.


3. Quantity


The third and last factor that TripAdvisor claims is influencing its ranking algorithm is quantity. As in, the number of reviews left for a specific venue. The businesses with a low number of reviews can’t benefit from good scores as much as more reviewed ones can. The reasoning is that it’s easier to manipulate good scores if there are fewer reviews. That way, newer venues could theoretically get good scores early on and grab the top-ranking positions and then profit from them.  Fake reviews are already a big enough problem for TripAdvisor. So, getting a high number of reviews is useful in building a reputation on Tripadvisor.

It should be noted, however, that it only influences the business’s ranking up to a certain point.  Having 2000 instead of 1000 reviews won’t make much of a difference. As the official statement from TripAdvisor says “a business just needs to have enough reviews to provide statistical significance and allow for a confident comparison to other businesses“.


Is there an exact formula for a perfect TripAdvisor ranking?


Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash


Unfortunately, there isn’t. At least, not based on the publicly available information, anyway.

However, by providing a consistently good service and encouraging satisfied guests to leave reviews, businesses can be satisfied knowing that they did everything they could to ensure a good position on it. And in most cases, that seems to be enough.


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