Skift Take

Tripadvisor's travel-planning help by text for Tripadvisor Plus subscribers plays to the company's strengths — user reviews and a global roster of hotels, restaurants and things to do listings. It really can't compete, though, with a real travel agent who has visited the destination and knows the hotel general manager personally.

Series: Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, Executive Editor and online travel rockstar Dennis Schaal will bring readers exclusive reporting and insight into the business of online travel and digital booking, and how this sector has an impact across the travel industry.

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Online Travel This Week Lots of online travel companies, whether it's Nasdaq-bound HotelPlanner with its gig-economy call center agents or CheapOair with its phone number on practically every web page, want to introduce the human element into the sales process for the purposes of upselling or increased customer engagement. With that in mind, I reached out to Tripadvisor Text, a recent SMS messaging feature exclusively available for Tripadvisor Plus subscribers that connects them with travel professionals for guidance on trip-planning. I wanted help from a travel professional to plan a Pacific Coast Highway road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The trip-planning exercise turned out to be mediocre, heavy on technology and keywords, and void of personality: It felt as though Tripadvisor knows it has an enormous database of hotels, restaurants, and things to do, so it might as well answer Plus subscribers' inquiries by pointing customers to relevant website links and frequently used phrases in user reviews, and then thes