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TripAdvisor, hotel search and the looming presence of Google on the horizon

publication date: Sep 10, 2013
 | 
author/source: Craig Stewart
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TripAdvisor, hotel search and the looming presence of Google on the horizon

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NB: This is a viewpoint by Craig Stewart, director at Freetobook, an online booking system and channel manager.

Over the past eight months or so the hotel search landscape has shifted and a gathering of the meta engines is now well under-way.

It started back in November of last year with Priceline’acquisition of Kayak, followed shortly by Barry Diller selling his TripAdvisor shares to Liberty Interactive and, to top it, when Expedia bought a controlling stake of Trivago.

There is a game afoot to control metasearch and TripAdvisor just fired the latest round when it officially unveiled the upgraded rate comparison metasearch at the end of last week.

With its tongue planted firmly in its cheeky, Trip Advisor also announced that it’s getting rid of the pesky pop ups, and – as the self proclaimed “number one travel website” – is now maximising revenue by fully integrating live rates and availability feeds to customer searches.

TripAdvisor is enhancing the user experience by offering up metaearch and charging properties for pay-per-click advertising around rate comparison.

With the traffic volume TripAdvisor commands, this move to a more sophisticated monetization looks like a winner for both TripAdvisor and the customer experience.

So, great news for customers as now they can match up the most favourably reviewed property with live rates and availability feeds. But what of the property owners?

TripAdvisor has been broad with its feed access, so along with the big name OTAs, a number of booking engines have been selected to provide rates and availability.

This gives properties the choice to advertise indirectly by being listed with an OTA or to use a connected booking system to advertise directly.

Watch out!

Who will be the winners and who will lose out with these changes? Clear losers will be small properties who haven’t yet grasped online booking.

You have to wonder if this truly could be the final death knell for them?

Many of these properties have done well out of TripAdvisor referrals without the need to have live rates and availability. But with these changes are they going to be marginalised and lose bookings?

For the majority of smaller properties who are online, there is now a huge opportunity to take advantage of their TripAdvisor profile and display their rates to gain bookings directly.

TripAdvisor has certainly made a vast improvement here and with some further work it could improve the feed functionality so properties could instantly switch their advert on and off (updates are currently delayed by at least a day).

In short, TripAdvisor could get better advertiser functionality. Which neatly leads to that other elephant in the room.

Google’s Hotel Finder appears in some respects to be just an experiment, waiting to get a full release, and one can’t help but think that many of the moves in the metasearch game so far have been to position against Google and it rate comparison offer.

A result might not be too far off.

NB: This is a viewpoint by Craig Stewart, director at Freetobook, an online booking system and channel manager.


Read more at http://www.tnooz.com/2013/06/13/news/tripadvisor-hotel-search-and-the-looming-presence-of-google-on-the-horizon/#Y4kprY0g7qEuocBJ.99 


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