When Reviews Help Market Your Business for You… For Free
Thankfully, everyone is entitled to their opinion - because a growing number of businesses in Hong Kong now firmly take on board these opinions, expressed in the form of user reviews, to analyse their position and reputation in the market, and use the insights to drive their business strategies.
One local company that has benefited greatly from traveller reviews is Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tours. The first tour operator that solely focuses on food tours to be licensed in the city, it offers three gastronomic adventures that take participants to Central/Sheung Wan, Shum Shui Po, and Tai Po districts. What’s more, the tour guides, local Hong Kongers who have either studied, lived, or travelled extensively overseas, also offer insights into the history and culture behind the areas and eateries they visit.
Reviews can really go a long way, especially for the smaller businesses or new entrants to the market, to establish themselves. There are no better ambassadors for your business than your customers, and when they endorse what you are trying to sell, the value that brings can often be staggering. With over 570 million user reviews on TripAdvisor, the freely-offered appraisals on the world’s largest travel site work as digital word-of-mouth to help travellers make confident decisions as they plan key components to their trips.
“In the age of social recommendations, customer reviews represent the voice of the customers,” says Cecilia Leung, Director of Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tours. “Comments on TripAdvisor that highlight our uniqueness and the quality of our service are certainly more convincing and effective than our description on our own website.” As of 31 January 2018, Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tours had amassed well over 900 reviews on TripAdvisor, and recognised with a 5-bubble rating from users.
Similarly, the reviews can help businesses understand what their customers would consider as areas for improvement, which would help further enhance the experience.
Leung adds that post tour comments really help them prepare for future tours. “User reviews really help us work out how best to structure our tours, educate and guide our participants who come from all corners of the world. The food we take our customers to try differ with each tour with some a bit more ‘adventurous’ than others. While we do inform ahead of time, everyone has a different perception of what is ‘adventurous’. For some, chicken with bones is deemed ‘challenging’. This is where our experience, and reviews are of great value, as they give us accurate indication of how we should prepare for each tour, and questions different nationalities are likely to ask.”
While verbal feedback is given at the end of each tour, when comparing comments left on social media platforms and traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, the latter tend to be more thoughtful and detailed. They are also more likely to provide concrete examples of what they think sets her company’s tours apart. Leung mentions that through the reviews, she can see the food items that really stand out for the travellers and the fact that they incorporate “interesting stories, history, and information about life in Hong Kong” in relation to the eateries and shops they visit make them stand out from their competitors.
Another feature of TripAdvisor that Leung appreciates is the fact that users who are considering to take part in her tours can ask the TripAdvisor community any questions they may have and travellers who have left a review on her listing would sometimes jump in to answer these questions on Leung’s behalf. This gives Hong Kong Foodie Tours credibility as the responses come directly from other people who have experienced the tours.
Leung also expressed the authenticity of reviews on TripAdvisor because of the platform’s stringent monitoring techniques.
“TripAdvisor has its own proprietary monitoring process and we are confident working with them, which has saved us time.” she added.
For an in-depth look at TripAdvisor’s methods, this film illustrates how the company succeeds at ensuring the integrity of its content: