TripAdvisor recently announced TripConnect, a new program that allows hotels to drive direct traffic to their own websites and capture more direct bookings. Hoteliers have always preferred direct bookings to business generated via third-party intermediaries that charge high commissions. TripAdvisor already offers hotels Business Listings subscriptions – a pay-for suite of services that allows hotels to, among many other things, add a direct website link on their TripAdvisor listings – as a way to capture more direct business. With TripConnect, hotels can more aggressively compete for these direct bookings on metasearch through a cost-per-click bidding system.
In order to participate in TripConnect, your property must be a Business Listing subscriber and work with a certified booking engine. Your property can then bid on a cost-per-click basis against OTAs for positioning on TripAdvisor’s metasearch engine. Time will tell whether the cost per acquisition on TripConnect is lower for hotels than on other third-party intermediaries. Nevertheless, the platform is extremely appealing for independents and smaller properties looking to increase their distribution and website visibility. With over 50,000 hotels already using Business Listings, TripConnect has the potential to shift the hotel path-to-purchase.
With TripConnect, your property’s review ratings will occupy the same valuable real estate as direct booking links on TripAdvisor, and will be top-of-mind when the traveler decides between your property and a competitor. TripAdvisor reports that people on average consider seven different properties on the site before booking, and rate online reviews as one of the three most important factors. To improve your odds of being booked, ensure that your listing has:
- A wide-selection of engaging photos. TripAdvisor reported earlier this year that properties with 30 or more photos have over 45% more traveler engagement than those with 10 or less. There’s no limit to the number of photos you can add to your TripAdvisor property page. Build your listing’s photo gallery by adding five photos each month.
- An eye-catching primary photo. The primary photo is your most visible image – it shows up prominently in search results and the Popularity Index for your location. Grab potential guests’ attention by regularly updating the photo to reflect the seasons, enhancements to the property, etc. You can assess how well your photos are performing with the Snapshot in the Management Center.
- Management responses to reviews. 78% of TripAdvisor users agree that seeing a hotel management response to reviews “makes me believe that it cares more about its guests.” Moreover, 84% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review “improves my impression of the hotel.” To learn how to write effective management responses to reviews, check out this best practices guide.
- Lots of recent, positive reviews. The TripAdvisor Popularity Index takes into account three primary factors when measuring a property’s score: the number of reviews, rating of reviews and freshness of reviews. Don’t shy away from asking guests for reviews.
In summary, for hotels with stellar online reputations, TripConnect can drive more direct bookings and allow you to effectively compete against OTAs for that crucial first booking.