Trivago, Expedia’s hotel comparison shopping site, has spent $3.7 million so far in July on two similar TV ads in the U.S. designed to show consumers that TripAdvisor’s hotel reviews are unfair to hotel owners and that Trivago has the solution.
The TV advertisement, narrated by actor Tim Williams as the Trivago Guy, doesn’t identify TripAdvisor by name but the message is clear [see TV ad below].
“Jim’s a proud hotel owner. And he works hard in keeping his hotel in great shape. But Jim’s frustrated. His hotel received a review on a well-known travel website. And it’s unfair. Why should you care?
“Because when you rely on the reviews of only one popular website you a missing out on a great stay. That’s why Trivago combines hotel reviews from different websites into a single rating. Trivago does this with over 140 million reviews for over 700,000 hotels. Jim likes it about Trivago and so should you. Hotel? Trivago.”
So while TripAdvisor has its 250 million reviews and opinions on 1.7 million accommodations, with users adding them at a clip of 160 per minute, Trivago is aggregating reviews from sister sites Expedia and Hotels.com, as well as numerous others, including eBookers, Holidaycheck and Zoover. Unlike TripAdvisor’s, many of these, such as those from Expedia and Hotels.com are verified reviews, meaning guests can write them only after a stay.
Whether Trivago’s reviews are more reliable than TripAdvisor’s is debatable. Still, it is ironic to see a unit of Expedia, which previously owned TripAdvisor and is one of TripAdvisor’s largest customers, taking the side of hotel owners and complaining about “unfair” reviews.
So far in July 2015 Trivago spent about $3.7 million in the U.S. on the two TV ads, “Jim’s Hotel: Reviews” ($1,950,727) and “Jim’s Hotel: Rabbit Breeder’s Convention” ($1,707,355), according to an analysis by iSpot.tv.
The first spot has appeared 281 times on national TV with ABC (22.6 percent), USA Network (18.5 percent) and CBS (18.4 percent) dominating the Trivago airings, iSpot.tv found. The second spot has had 268 national airings with networks ABC (32.69 percent) and CBS (19.2 percent) leading the pack.
This is only a small portion of Trivago’s TV advertising spend in the U.S. — let alone around the world.
The tweaking of TripAdvisor comes at at time when TripAdvisor is expressing concerns about increased competition in user reviews from search engines Google and Baidu, as well as online travel agencies. TripAdvisor cited this increased competition in its most recent quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“The travel review industry and, more generally, the business of collecting and aggregating travel-related resources and information, continue to be increasingly competitive,” TripAdvisor states. “In recent years, an increasing number of companies, such as search companies Google, Inc. and Baidu.com, Inc. and large online travel agencies, or OTAs, have begun to collect and aggregate travel information and resources. We plan to continue to invest in order to remain the leading source of travel reviews as well as continue to enhance our user experience.”
For many years it appeared as though TripAdvisor’s competitors were hopelessly trailing in collecting user reviews. They are still way behind but the gap is tightening, spurring increased TripAdvisor investment in reviews.
Here is one of Trivago’s ads: