The recent announcement of TripAdvisor’s TripConnect has created a lot of positive buzz and high expectations from hoteliers. If you haven’t yet heard or read about TripConnect, it is essentially TripAdvisor’s new metasearch bidding platform that may potentially have some promising features for independent hotels looking to gain traction in capturing direct bookings from OTAs and big hotel chains. With TripConnect, independent hotels that are subscribed to TripAdvisor’s Business Listing and who work with one of the 500 participating Internet Booking engines (IBE) like Sabre Hospitality and Pegasus Solutions’ will be able to utilize this self-service auction platform to place bids on a cost-per-click basis against OTAs for positioning on TripAdvisor. Keep in mind that positioning is based on your bid amount, so if you want to rank higher then you must increase your bid. For independent hotels and B&B inns, TripConnect can be very advantageous as it allows hoteliers to showcase your property’s real-time availability and rates as part of the TripAdvisor review listing. It also gives independent hotels an opportunity to provide a direct website link on their TripAdvisor page, thereby increasing direct traffic to their own site and generating direct bookings. While Google continues to push for their advertising channels like Adwords and Hotel Finder, TripAdvisor is offering hoteliers a seemingly better alternative to capturing direct bookings. As we take a look at some of TripConnect’s promising features, we will eventually see more hotels shifting their advertising budgets from Google to TripConnect. Here are a few reasons why your independent hotel should leverage TripConnect as part of your marketing strategy:
Levels the Playing Field with OTAs and Hotel Chains
TripConnect’s bidding system is great way for independent hotels to better compete with OTAs and hotel chains on a somewhat equal playing field. With TripConnect, independent hotel prices are now clearly displayed alongside OTAs and brand sites. This allows small independent hotels to aggressively compete directly for their hotel booking among OTAs and hotel chains already playing in that field. One of the main benefits of TripConnect is the ability to add a direct link to your booking page on the TripAdvisor listing. So instead of travel shoppers being directed to book via OTA sites like Expedia or Priceline from your TripAdvisor listing, a link will appear and direct users to your own booking engine. This is great news for hoteliers because you avoid being charged high commission from booking with an OTA. According to Tripadvisor’s CEO Stephan Kaufer, “In a matter of a few short months, we think that most properties will be able to connect and have their best pricing availability appear next to all the big guys…opening the door for additional relationships.”
May Outshine Google Adwords & Hotel Finder
As a hotelier, you may be wondering how another advertising platform like TripConnect differs from Google Adwords and Hotel Finder. Well for one, unlike Google pay-per-click, TripConnect will not display ads when rooms are unavailable. Through the property’s IBE, the system will check for availability and rates before displaying the ad on TripConnect. In contrast, Google PPC ads will continue to show up in search results even if the property is unavailable thereby costing clicks and wastefully using up the budget. That said, we see that TripConnect is better at regulating its ads than Google Adwords. TripConnect also has an edge over Adwords because of its built in ROI tracking system. This ROI tracking system is much simpler to interpret than Google Analytics as it clearly tells the property the booking revenue and the advertising cost. As TripConnect continues to improve its interface, we will eventually see more independent hotels allocating some of their marketing budget away from Adwords and Hotel Finder and towards TripConnect, especially because Hotel Finder is not yet fully available to independent hotels.
May Yield Higher Conversions
TripAdvisor continues to be a reliable review source for many travel shoppers. It can be seen as another search engine where travel shoppers are able to find the best hotel rates, review ratings, and miscellaneous information; all in one site. Because of these features, TripAdvisor intuitively yields higher conversions when it comes to booking direct. A traveler may find out all they need to know about a hotel from TripAdvisor and decide to book without having to go through the hotel’s website. With TripConnect, independent hotels are expected to have a competitive edge with regards to conversions over OTAs mainly because of the trust customers have in directly booking with the hotel. Travelers prefer to book direct with a hotel rather than through a third party intermediary especially when a hotel displays the lower rate compared to an OTA. The booking decision becomes effortless on TripAdvisor because everything you possibly need to know about a hotel is displayed in one site thus yielding to higher conversions.
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