Trip Advisor Reviews: Gotcha! Well not quite.

As part of my role on the Public Relations team I’ve charged myself (that’s what we do here, we “charge” ourselves with tasks – a kind of self-imposed tyranny) the task of getting us a stronger online presence. I’ve concentrated upon Trip Advisor and getting the reviews up. Last week they stood at 5. Shocking frankly. 5 reviews for a pizza party that has been giving thousands of people the highlight of their trip/weekend for years. Thousands and yet only 5 reviews!

OK, the youth (18-35, the majority demographic here in Tojeiro), it appears, don’t use Trip Advisor. When asked during the pilot study, and a couple of qualitative interviews, as psychologists call them, it seems they prefer Facebook. No surprises there I suppose. However, and not wishing to promote a particular travel information site, Trip Advisor has huge reach for other demographics, especially that of parents looking for trips and activities and others like myself who use it to find cheap, quality restaurants and places to enjoy a locally priced glass of wine, or find out the best museums. It’s useful because it is based upon user experience and their reviews.

However by yesterday Fridayhappiness on TA was up to the tottering heights of 11 reviews and up to 11th place in the tourist utopia that is Monchique. Yes, we are the 11th most popular restaurant in Monchique out of 34. (A place, according to Wikipedia, with a population of 6045.) 11th place despite having a Pizza Party that goes on the 16 hours, has two rocking dance stages, three bars, one shop and two paramedics and attracts thousands people from all over Portugal and a very popular attraction for tourists, ravers and backpackers. To put this into perspective one our leading Trip Advisor competitors, 86 reviews, have “tomato salad, French fries, chicken, piri piri and omelette” as their enticement.

How did this monumental leap up 6 reviews and 2 table places, to 11, happen? Well I started by plugging it as helping Rudi’s business – that didn’t help – in fact one interview participant said he/she didn’t give a damn about the business, only the community. How the two are separated under the fiscal demands of capitalism I don’t see but yet I can understand the sentiment. The appeal to peoples sense of fairness and emotion didn’t work with only 2 reviews added. So the next day, contrary to all the written and unwritten rules of review writing everywhere, a free beer was offered to every review written (favourable, or potentially unfavourable, it must be noted) and I laid back and waited for all of the 40 plus Tojeiro community members to roll up to the bar to claim a free Sagres or Radler and so my job would be done.

Well, how many reviews, with that free drink incentive, were written in the next 48 hours? Answer: none. At this point I conducted a few qualitative interviews and some of the opinions above came to light including the hassle of having to download the app to be able to write a review. Some also expressed the view that writing reviews was not their “thing” or they felt it was somehow unethical to write a review while working here or they could only write it after they had left and had had the experience – although I felt like asking how they would respond to a family member asking for a favourable review for a new restaurant they were opening despite being 4000 km away. Would they say, “No mum, I can only give you a business helping review after I’ve actually eaten at your new place, sorry mum, how’s dad?” Different sort if family I suppose.

Anyway at this point, and feeling somewhat deflated to the point that I felt it could be my character that was putting the village people off helping the business that sustains us, I remembered that the mercurial social science duo Tversky and Kahneman had researched this very matter. Their work, amongst others, has developed into Anchor Theory. Here, the agent decides which of two rewards they would prefer to participate in an research project. Funnily they found that participants would choose the higher reward but with less certainty in winning; the odds were 100{9fe443bd184cb1350524d7eb1ee850f105d9c0b4a4acc977418c9a7212380ea2} for the lesser reward, say €5, but only 10{9fe443bd184cb1350524d7eb1ee850f105d9c0b4a4acc977418c9a7212380ea2} for winning €40, more participants would risk the certainty of €5 for the one-in-ten chance of €40 (this is my example because I haven’t got their research to hand.

When anchored to the plea for the business the enthuiasm , the internal drive was next to nothing. When the reward was a beer the uptake WAS nothing! So not a big enough incentive but the free drink and/or helping the business acted as the anchor whereupon 10 Drink lottery looked like a good cost (time and hassle spent wriring review) -benefit. The lottery to win a 10 drink card suddenly saw reviews increase by 100{9fe443bd184cb1350524d7eb1ee850f105d9c0b4a4acc977418c9a7212380ea2}, including more that had been taken down by Trip Adviser – set ’em up again folks to get in next week’s draw. The incentive suddenly became attractive but had all the reviews remained and a few more posted the odds of winning (it turned out we all had a 20{9fe443bd184cb1350524d7eb1ee850f105d9c0b4a4acc977418c9a7212380ea2} chance of winning, nice) would have decreased to the point where the rational mind would choose the one free beer over the lottery. Participants didn’t know how many would participate, and didn’t ask and weren’t interested. They just believed, despite not knowing or wanting to know the odds, that they would win. I would postulate many played a small movie, in their heads, of them going up to the stage to collect the drink card. This was enough internal motivation for there to be a dramatic increase, in percentage terms at least, in participation.

Next week hopefully they’ll be more than 5 reviews as people take the opportunity to win a drink.

The competition is open to all and everybody and a drinks card is waiting for the weekly winner with Rudi at reception should you not be here to receive it. Leave an honest review on Trip Adviser and pick it up, should you win – it’s worth €12.


Miranda won it last night and winners will be posted on here after the Party Night Draw.

Hopefully we will start to get over 10 reviews a week at which point the rational mind should have chosen the free beer, but don’t let anyone tell you that the homo sapien is a rational being, the evidence suggests otherwise.

Please  help the business and community by leaving reviews on all social media instruments. If the pilot goes well for Trip Advisor we will be expanding more cards to Facebook and Google draws so all who between now and then will be included in the draw should it happen.