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Despite the fact that Tripadvisor’s new subscription service charges no commissions to participating hotels, it was never going to be something that came at zero distribution costs. But now Tripadvisor is finding a way for independent hotels to connect to Tripadvisor Plus without being tagged with booking fees from global distribution systems, hence reducing the cost.

Tripadvisor will announce Tuesday that it was opening a connection, or application programing interface, for hotels to connect through their existing channel managers or booking engines to Tripadvisor Plus.

Many hotels that want to participate in Tripadvisor Plus currently tie into the program through global distribution systems Sabre or Amadeus, which typically charge hotels several dollars per booking. To avoid that booking fee, independent hotels that currently use channel managers, which enable hotels to sell their rooms through a variety of websites, ranging from Booking.com to HotelTonight and Expedia, can do so now through a handful of these distributors at a significant cost savings.

Tripadvisor stated SiteMinder, Roiback, WebHotelier, and DerbySoft are the first channel managers or booking engines to connect to Tripadvisor Plus, and so their hotel clients can cut out the global distribution systems to participate in the Tripadvisor subscription plan at no additional cost, or at least a reduced one compared with going through Amadeus or Sabre.

“There are no connectivity or other costs of doing business for current or new Roiback hotel clients,” said Rebeca González, Roiback managing director.”The only cost for Roiback hotel clients comes in the form of members-only discounts and special perks (free gifts and/or extras upon arrival) that are required of hotels participating in Tripadvisor Plus.”

Channel managers and booking engines need to make money and have various business models. For example, Roiback charges its hotel clients a fee per booking, a flat fee per hotel, or or a commission per reservation, but these would presumably be cheaper than going through Sabre or Amadeus.

Tripadvisor Plus, a $99 per year subscription program for consumers, enables hotels to gain higher visibility to subscribers behind a paywall on Tripadvisor in exchange for providing hotel discounts of at least 10 percent off published rates, or the rates they charge the public on their websites, as well as various perks.

“Since the initial [Tripadvisor Plus] announcement and recent official launch, we have received lots of interest from our hotel clients, some of which are already taking part in the program,” González said. “Additionally, we have many other clients who will be connecting to Tripadvisor Plus very shortly, using Roiback’s direct connectivity.”

James Bishop, senior director, global ecosystem at SiteMinder, said “there is no cost for our customers to connect to Tripadvisor Plus through SiteMinder.”

He said Tripadvisor has always been a distribution channel in high demand for SiteMinder’s hotel clients.

“For this reason, the launch of Tripadvisor offerings has always proven popular among our customers, from Instant Book to Reputation Pro,” Bishop said. “We see a high volume of interest among our customers upon every launch, due to the sheer strength of the Tripadvisor brand among travelers.”

In its announcement, Tripadvisor said it will be adding other channel managers beyond the first four throughout the rest of the year.

“Since we launched Tripadvisor Plus earlier this year, we’ve heard from hoteliers who were very eager to join the program but weren’t able to do so easily based on the connectivity solutions we had in place while the program was in beta,” said Daniel Mitchell, vice president, Tripadvisor Plus supply, in a statement.

He added: “We have been able to solve for this so quickly by using a lot of the existing technology infrastructure we already had in place, including the technology used to power Instant Booking.”

SiteMinder claims to offer services to 35,000 properties, Roiback counts 2,000, WebHotelier states it has 7,300 hotels among its clients, and DerbySoft said its partners include “the top 10 hotel groups, all the leading third party central reservations systems, marketing agencies, and hundreds of regional hotels chains of all sizes throughout Europe, China, and North America.”

Photo Credit: Ice Hotel in St. Gabriel de Valcartier, Quebec, Canada as seen on January 30, 2020. Tripadvisor Plus is now open to hotels through several channel managers. Louise Leclerc / Flickr.com