Think of an online travel booking experience, such as wandering through Priceline.com, Expedia.com, or Booking.com, and the first thing that comes to mind may not be a loyalty program. But in the long campaign against Google Travel, it could be a differentiating tool for online travel agencies.

That’s the thought at TripAdvisor at least, which in its most recent earnings reports hinted that it’s “determining which type of loyalty program makes sense for our community.” The concept, in this case, is that current TripAdvisor members already express deeper engagement with the platform. By adding a loyalty program on top, customers will have further incentives to stay in the TripAdvisor network and away from the claws of Google.

It wouldn’t be the first loyalty program in this space, of course — Expedia Rewards and Orbitz Rewards have been been around for years. Where TripAdvisor could differentiate, however, is in its powerful reviews system and any incentives that it could bake into that process.

Still, with tight margins across the board for online travel agencies, TripAdvisor will have to get mighty creative to differentiate itself and ultimately return unique value to customers.

— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor 

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Grant Martin [gm@skift.com] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. He is also a director of product marketing at TripActions. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor is considering the introduction of a loyalty program as a measure to increase engagement from its members. It's part of a larger strategy to counter its reduced visibility via Google, as reported in the company's most recent earnings call. TripAdvisor