TripConnect to Give Small & Independent Hotels A Chance To Compete With Larger Players

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TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP), the world’s largest travel review website with over 260 million monthly users, recently launched its TripConnect platform that allows small and independent hotels to participate in hotel price comparison. The hotel price comparison feature, also known as meta-search, was rolled out by the company earlier this year. It aggregates hotel pricing and availability information from booking partners on a single page. The option to participate in meta-search was previously available only to large hotel chains, and online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE). With the launch of TripConnect, hotel properties of all sizes can participate in TripAdvisor meta-search. [1]

How It Works?

To participate in TripConnect hotels must subscribe to TripAdvisor Business Listings. Through this TripAdvisor gets access to the hotel’s contact details like phone number, email address and website address. The hotel then needs to provide real-time room availability information and online booking feature to travelers through a TripAdvisor certified Internet booking engine such as Sabre Hospitality and TravelClick. Once these requirements are in place, the hotel can use the TripConnect auction platform to place bids and participate in TripAdvisor’s hotel price comparison feature.

TripConnect is a self-service, cost-per-click platform. The participating hotel can bid how much it wants to pay per click based on its advertising budget. The higher the bidding amount, the higher the property’s listing appears in meta-search, and thus, higher the likelihood of a user clicking on the property’s reservation page. The hotel pays TripAdvisor only when a user clicks through to its reservation page. [2]

TripConnect comes with an online performance management tool. Hotels can cap their daily spend, see a forecast of the number of clicks they can expect to receive, and get an estimate of their expected monthly bill. It also includes Review Express, an offering that automatically generates emails to be sent to guests for post-stay review solicitation.

Who Benefit From TripConnect And How?

We think of TripConnect as a win-win for all three — independent property owners, TripAdvisor and users. It offers property owners the chance to bypass OTAs and generate bookings through their own website, thereby saving time on marketing efforts, reducing commissions paid to OTAs and helping them better understand guests’ perception about their property through post-stay reviews. TripAdvisor benefits from fresher, verified reviews and higher advertising revenues, while its users have more booking options and review content to explore.

A total of 210 Internet booking engines covering 135,000 properties worldwide had signed up for TripConnect before its launch, better than the company’s expectations. Close to 90% of these committed 210 Internet booking engines had opted for the premium offering. [3]

TripAdvisor believes that the platform places independent hotels on an equal footing with large hotels and OTAs. [4] Our inference slightly varies from this. We think that it may not be possible for many small and independent hotels to outbid big hotel chains and OTAs, due to the large scale and access to resources of the latter. Nevertheless, the pay per click option and TripAdvisor’s vast reach are attractive to hoteliers, which should get more property owners to try out this new auction platform.

TripConnect Could Steal Advertisers From Google AdWords

Currently, Google and TripAdvisor are the two biggest advertising channels for hotels. However, the launch of TripConnect could lead to many hoteliers shifting away from Google AdWords and towards TripAdvisor. Google’s pay per click charges hotels for click-throughs even when their property is not available for booking, while TripAdvisor lists a property at the bottom of the page if it is not available for booking, and does not charge for any clicks. TripAdvisor also has a bigger basket of offerings – price comparison, availability, quality ranking and reviews are all available to users at a single place. Hence, users are more likely to prefer TripAdvisor when searching for hotels. TripConnect advertisements are shown to users on the property’s TripAdvisor page, adding visibility of the hotel’s direct booking link. [5]

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Notes:
  1. TripAdvisor Launches Groundbreaking New Service To Generate Direct Booking Opportunities For Independent Hotels And B&Bs, TripAdvisor Press Release, October 17, 2013 []
  2. 12 questions about TripAdvisor TripConnect you were too embarrassed to ask, TNOOZ, October 17, 2013 []
  3. Hundreds of booking engines on board for TripAdvisor service in anticipation of launch, TripAdvisor Website, August 01, 2013 []
  4. TripAdvisor Launches Groundbreaking New Service To Generate Direct Booking Opportunities For Independent Hotels And B&Bs, TripAdvisor Press Release, October 17, 2013 []
  5. Five reasons TripAdvisor TripConnect will rob Google of hotel ad spend, TNOOZ, October 17, 2013 []
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  • commented 10 months ago
  • tags: TZOO TRIP EXPE PCLN
  • Dose tripconnect work in all markets. We have signed up for trip connect, but due to IT problem we are unable to use trip connect as we are the sole bidders in our market.
    We keep being told that we will get an update but after 2 months nothing.
    Has anyone else have the same problem with not getting on tripconnect ?
    TripAdvisor Logo
  • commented 11 months ago
  • tags: TZOO TRIP EXPE PCLN
  • Tried Trip Connect and Business Listing for 30 days and received a total of 1 booking. After further analyzing the business model, I concluded that you would have to be completely inept to consider this an option as a business owner. The idea of competing against the various entities that you already pay (Booking, Expedia, Hotels.com, etc.) is absurd in my opinion. Trip Connect lacks any real transparency in its cost per click model, from my experience and I strongly recommend for hoteliers to reject it. After speaking with many other marketing partners and software consultants I was informed that the cost per click our hotel was paying is 4 times the industry average @ $1.80.