TripAdvisor solution

After a dismal reporting of Q2 for TripAdvisor it has the research team out speaking with hotels asking for more attractive solutions.  The conversation covers many topics and includes suggestions for all of the current solutions in place.

The introduction of online travel agencies into the hotel TripAdvisor pages was a turning point in the relationship between TripAdvisor and hotels. TripAdvisor sees this opportunity and hotels cringe as this was a primary stream of direct reservations taken from the TripAdvisor website directed to their own site for internal bookings is now gone. Hotels are seeing a huge drop of traffic from TripAdvisor as they change the style of the pages to keep them on their website and entice people to not only do reviews, but to also book hotel stays, tours and more.

One recommendation we provided was the addition of online chat to the TripAdvisor page and let the hotel staff manage this traffic.  This is truly a win win for both TripAdvisor and hotels.  The hotel staff can log into a online chat portal and handle all the chat inquires on their TripAdvisor hotel page.  Of course TripAdvisor has concerns that the potential guest is not being handled correctly but that can be easily monitored by an end of chat review.  The question now is how much will the hotels pay to subscribe to the online chat service?

top 10 wedding hotels by TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor integrity fail

We have always been TripAdvisor advocates but it seems that TripAdvisor is spiraling out of control. We recently found a glaring content mistake. On the TripAdvisor Owner page ( there is a testimonial. The testimonial content comes from a TripAdvisor insights video  and the thumbnail picture represents the property El Taj Condo Hotel, where as the name and location displayed in the testimonial is completely wrong.  The testimonial was not done by Dario and Ambra in Naples, Italy but from Kenneth Schmidt in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

TripAdvisor Fail

We also found that if you do a internet search on “top wedding hotels in [any city]” TripAdvisor now has many links to pages that will list the top wedding hotels for the city you typed in.  When we inquired to TripAdvisor about this new listing, the answer was that the search engine optimization department are creating these pages based on review content.  In all fairness they mentioned that there is possible some other criteria that goes into the page.

When TripAdvisor started they were simply a travel review site.  Over the years they saw opportunities to get into the reservation business and now have added all the online travel agencies, constantly inventing ways to get people to book on TripAdvisor with less focus on their core business, reviews.

In reality there is not allot of integrity in the actual reviews since there is no real verification of the stays, the content on the pages can now be questioned by this glaring testimonial fail and now TripAdvisor is creating pages on reviews with keywords.

wordpress hacked, hacked wprdpress - Automated Contacts

WordPress Website Security

wordpress hacked, hacked wprdpress - Automated ContactsIt appears there is a whole lot of WordPress website hacking going on.  We recently fell victim to a brute force attack.  They were able to compromise one of the websites that was hosted on our platform.  The reason we were compromised was due to one of the websites we hosted was well behind in the updates of WordPress and without a security plugin.  The result of an attack is a huge pain.  We caught the compromise fairly quickly and were able to rectify the problem.

Ironically shorty after our situation, we received a number of requests from friends and colleges who ran into the same situation.  So we took a moment to document one of these clean ups to help those of you that may have run into this problem.

How to clean up a hacked WordPress site

Important: these instructions may or may not fix your hacked site.  We are not responsible for any damages or liable if you follow these directions and you break your site.

  • First we installed the Securi Security plug in.  Click on the Malware Scan tab and click the Scan Website button.
    • At this point we had a confirmed malware issue.
  • We then ran the core integrity file checker in Securi Security found on the dashboard and either deleted or restored the files that the checker found.  If you are unsure to restore or delete, find someone that knows.
  • Then we installed Anti-Malware and Brute-Force Security by ELI
    • you register the site and download the latest definitions (no need to pay to check the core files, you just did that with Securi Security Plugin)
    • run the scan (takes some time)
      • our scan found a number of infected files
    • quarantine the known vulnerabilities not the potential
    • go to quarantine section and delete the files
  • Go back to Securi Security, click on the Malware Scan tab and click the Scan Website button.
    • at this point our site came up clean
  • We went to the Hardening tab in Securi Security and selected Harden on most of the options
    • Website firewall is a premium pay feature
    • We did not select the Database Tabel Prefix – BE SUPER CAREFUL, this will break the site!!

If you have a WordPress site and don’t have a security plugin installed, we would recommend you download one of the following plugins right away.  They are all free and offer premium (pay) services if you are willing to pay for additional security.

Recommended WordPress Security Plugins

WordFence, Securi Security and iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)

ken schmidt VP-GM TripAdvisor

Automated Contacts meets TripAdvisor

ken schmidt VP-GM TripAdvisorWearing my VP/GM hat of the hotels, I took my reputation manager of Condo Hotels Playa del Carmen with me on a trip to Newton MA, the home office of TripAdvisor.  We made contact with the right people and arranged a meeting to discuss some of the details that we felt could be potential issues with TripAdvisor patrons coming to Playa del Carmen Mexico.

Upon arrival the location looked like a college academy with buildings scattered through out the property.  They were very kind and courteous.  We discussed issues like pictures displayed on the TripAdvisor website and what defines the area that identifies the boundaries of the town of Playa del Carmen.  They addressed our issues with the department heads for each of our questions, even met the #2 employee / director to make sure our questions were answered as correctly as possible.  We left with some answers and of course some not due to the secrecy of the rating formula.  In return they asked if we would be open to offer them a video testimonial and we gladly obliged.

The testimonial videos can be found on the TripAdvisor Insights section of their website.  Here are the links and the videos.