TripAdvisor: Consumer Champion OR Money-Making Machine?
Ah, TripAdvisor… the industry-renowned consumer review site.
TripAdvisor has over 32 million unique visitors every month. (That’s some amount of traffic!) The majority of these people will assume, as we did, that this is an independent website designed to support and guide consumers to the best guest experience on the market.
TripAdvisor give you their own grading, which maybe different to your official one. Clearly TripAdvisor are happy for you to be featured on their website in this way – but strangely they will not feature your website details or phone number free of charge. In fact until recently they would not feature them at all, but they have now decided to charge a nice fat fee for something they call a business listing. This enables you to put your phone number, email address and website homepage above the check rates box.
Notice they will not include your direct booking engine web address in and you are not part of the check rates box!
They will however ask you to link to them and not pay you a fee! So you put their logo and the customary “We’re on TripAdvisor” copy on your hotel website together with a direct link for your customers to click.
This set-up may seem a little one-sided, bizarre even… however, there is method in their madness!
In simple terms, TripAdvisor wants money either in commission, click through revenues or the new method of charging for a business listing. The majority of listings do not pay the fee and therefore they will not display your website details or phone number and even if you do pay, your listing still encourages the visitor to book via a 15% agent including Expedia.com and Hotels.com owned by Expedia Inc, who guess what own TripAdisor!
In addition, putting a TripAdvisor link onto your own website will direct your customers straight over to them whereupon they can start selling alternative accommodation via their affiliate sites, all of which are commission-based booking sites. So you’ve essentially handed them the opportunity of another 15% commission hit on a plate. Genius! A tremendous touch of wizardry on the part of the world’s biggest online booking corporation!