Tripadvisor & Tripconnect – what you need to know from Craig Stewart at Freetobook.com
I run my B&B courses every month and, whilst most things stay the same, the section of the course that seems to change monthly is the marketing part of the day.
Tripadvisor have just made a change which could have quite an impact on the way potential guests choose & book their holidays.
Craig Stewart of freetobook.com has written this article explaining the changes and has kindly allowed me to share it here on the blog.
This article by Craig Stewart of freetobook is
from Bed & Breakfast News, the member magazine of the B&B Association –
A guide to the Changes at TripAdvisor
A couple of weeks ago TripAdvisor launched their new service TripConnect. This is nothing short of a complete transformation in the way smaller independent accommodations are listed and viewed on their site. If you have a listing on TripAdvisor you need to know the costs and benefits to these changes on your business.
In the past it was simple, your page would attract reviews, with better reviews always resulting in a more prominent position. A higher review ranking translated directly into more bookings due to greater visibility. Greater visibility on the internet leads to bookings.
With the new TripConnect service things have changed and increased prominence is now given to properties that can be checked for live rates, availability and are bookable. The shift from review only listings to a model with review, pricing and booking is a fundamental change. In order to maintain your prominence and booking level from TripAdvisor you will need to understand how to take advantage of the changes and what they will cost you.
First things first, customers come to TripAdvisor for reviews, it remains the biggest review website in the world so getting the best reviews from guests must still be your number one priority. That said, along with reviews, customers now come to TripAdvisor to check prices and make bookings. If you have great reviews but no way for customers to access your rates and availability you will have lower visibility than other nearby properties that do show rates and availability.
This leads neatly to the second thing you now need in order to prosper on TripAdvisor. To benefit from greater visibility and get more bookings you must feed your rates, availability with booking capability to TripAdvisor. As part of these changes TripAdvisor have introduced an additional charging method called PayPerClick.
If you are not familiar with PayPerClick (PPC) it works like this, an advertiser (you) can offer to pay when a potential booker clicks on a web link. Each time a visitor on the website clicks the link TripAdvisor will charge the agreed amount hence the name PayPerClick (PPC). You only pay when a potential booker on TripAdvisor clicks your booking link after checking your availability and prices.
One of the key advantages to the TripAdvisor PPC solution is the way a customer first checks your rates and availability before they click. By only paying for the click after customers have seen both your prices and availability for specific dates you minimise your click costs, because you don’t show up if your B&B is full or closed over the searched dates.
If customers book you get a report listing bookings made through your PayPerClick advertising enabling you to calculate your cost of advertising versus booking revenue. This makes it easy to assess the efficacy of your PPC campaign (in real time). You are able to switch your advertising on/off and also set a maximum spend (budget) on a daily basis.
Early indications from the freetobook service show most clicks will cost around 70p-100p, these prices are set by TripAdvisor and may change up or down. Freetobook also estimate the average return on advertising spend should be in the region of 10 times, so for every GBP 10 you spend on PayPerClick you can expect GBP 100 worth of bookings. As with all advertising there are no guarantees, so some properties will do better than 10 times and others not so well. The ability to analyse, control and compare your spend is crucial.
There are currently 3 different ways to show your rates, availability and booking functionality on TripAdvisor, you need to decide which is the most suitable.
TripConnect : You will need a valid TripAdvisor business listing and an account with an Internet Booking Engine (IBE) that has Premium Partner status with TripConnect. There is a list of certified booking engines on the TripConnect website, freetobook is one such system. Your costs are the annual business listing and the PayPerClick.
Connected Advertising Platform: Some booking systems (i.e. freetobook) have the ability to deliver PayPerClick adverts onto TripAdvisor. You need to have an account with a booking system with this capability, the cost to you will be the PayPerClick.
Online Travel Agent (OTA): Many Online Travel Agents (OTAs) such as LateRooms, Booking.com and Expedia advertise on TripAdvisor for properties listed with them. If you work with an OTA that advertises you then you can get bookings from TripAdvisor via the OTA. In these cases the cost will be the commission they charge as you will have no PPC to pay – the OTA pays for the advertising.
By now some properties might be feeling left out by these changes. However, with these three methods available it’s quite clear that TripAdvisor aims to make access to their new functionality as broad and inclusive as they possibly can. Only die-hard “never ever going online” properties need worry, all others will at least have an opportunity to participate.
These TripAdvisor changes are in their early stages, that said. the direction is clear. TripAdvisor want to make it easy for customers on their website to check live prices, availability and make bookings. If you are a property without this capability you will most likely see a drop in bookings originating from TripAdvisor.
Craig Stewart is a Director at freetobook.com an Internet Booking Engine and channel manager which is also Premium Partner with TripConnect