The emergence of TripAdvisor as a viable booking site is a wake-up call to Expedia and the Priceline Group, who have been TripAdvisor's largest advertisers in recent years. It wouldn't be surprising to see them cut the spending spigot a bit.
We wrote yesterday about how the Book on TripAdvisor option has become pervasive seemingly overnight and the company has released the numbers to back that up: About one-third of the hotels, or 235,000, viewable on TripAdvisor can now be booked right on the site.
There is more to come because TripAdvisor’s Instant Book, as the program is called, has now signed up or implemented six of the top 10 global hotel chains, including Marriott, Accor, Best Western, Choice, Hyatt, and Radisson. Even where there aren’t direct relationships with hotels, participating online travel agencies such as Getaroom and TripAdvisor’s own Tingo can provide the Book on TripAdvisor option for other properties.
InterContinental Hotels Group is one of the notable holdouts, and Booking.com and Expedia are likewise declining to participate.
“In terms of overall coverage, at least where IB (Instant Book) is rolled out now, it’s pretty good,” said CEO Stephen Kaufer during the company’s second quarter earnings call July 23. “You see Instant Book in most of the places that you’d want.”
“We are pretty proud of the progress we made in the first half of the year.”
TripAdvisor’s signing of Marriott, with its 4,200 properties and 19 brands globally, was huge for TripAdvisor. The tie-in to TripAdvisor Instant Book for Marriott hasn’t been rolled out yet.
“Marriott was a big win for us,” Kaufer said. “They cover a lot of different types of hotels and are viewed by many as a leader in the space. So that certainly helped propel a number of discussions.”
“But I remind folks that we don’t need 10 out of the top 10 or 20 out of the top 20 to be wonderfully successful with Instant Book,” Kaufer said. “Unlike an online travel agency, if hotel brand A is not directly connected with us in Instant Book, I still have all of their properties through an OTA, through our own Tingo or Getaroom or many of our other OTA partners. So, we still have the ability to do an Instant Booking with those folks.”
“The margin may not be as good to us when we go through the intermediary, but we can still offer that service or we choose not to enable Instant Book on that property and our consumer still has the full meta experience.”
TV Advertising Spending Doubled
Direct relationships with hotels is better for TripAdvisor, though, because it might be able to access better rates and availabilities.
With Instant Book, or Book on TripAdvisor, consumers get the convenience of booking the hotel on TripAdvisor or in its apps without having to navigate to a hotel or online travel agency site. The hotels pay TripAdvisor a commission instead of paying for clicks. The commissions undercut those that they might have to pay to Expedia or Booking.com, for example.
The international rollout of Instant Book to non-English-speaking countries is yet to come and will take a lot of translation work and honing of the booking experience, Kaufer said. He declined to give a timeframe for when that would take place.
Meanwhile, TripAdvisor, which gets a treasure trove of additional information, including email addresses, about travelers when they book on TripAdvisor, doubled its TV advertising campaign in the second quarter, versus the year-ago period, to get the word out about the new TripAdvisor — the hotel-booking site.
The emergence of TripAdvisor as a viable booking site is a wake-up call to Expedia and the Priceline Group, who have been TripAdvisor’s largest advertisers in recent years. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them cut the spending spigot a bit.
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Photo credit: Marriott properties such as the JW Marriott Las Vegas, with its waterfall pool, will soon be bookable by guests on TripAdvisor. Flickr.com