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How to Use TripAdvisor’s TripConnect to Increase Direct Bookings for Your Hotel

TripConnect is platform offered by TripAdvisor that allows hotels to market their booking engine on their TripAdvisor page. Are you a hotelier, hotel manager or hotel marketer looking to get more direct reservations and avoid costly OTA (Online Travel Agent) commissions? If you are, then you won’t want to miss this!

TripConnect actually contains two distinct parts: TripConnect Instant Booking and TripConnect CPC (Cost Per Click).

TripConnect Instant Booking

With TripConnect Instant Booking, hotels get reservations directly through TripAdvisor by connecting their booking engine with TripAdvisor. A Book on TripAdvisor option is displayed alongside the other OTAs that the hotel is listed on. Guests complete the booking on TripAdvisor and the reservation details are passed to the hotel through their booking engine. Commission payable to TripAdvisor ranges between 12% and 15%.

You may be thinking, Wait, how is this different from OTAs? It’s not! TripAdvisor has essentially positioned themselves as an OTA. To make things more confusing, OTAs, such as booking.com, will also be using Instant Booking. So that means that a guest can book through booking.com by going to booking.com, by going to TripAdvisor and then clicking a link to booking.com, or by going to TripAdvisor and booking through TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor has invited hotels and OTAs to come together, then forced them to fight with each other for the chance to form a relationship with a potential guest. This cruel, Hunger Games-like strategy may bode well for TripAdvisor and their 12 billion market cap, but what does it mean for hotels?

Essentially, the “risk” to a hotel for not using Instant Booking is having a guest reserve directly through an OTA. So, what’s the difference for the hotel? For a hotel who receives most of their bookings directly, using Instant Booking will give guests another non-direct, commission-based channel to book through, and may actually decrease direct bookings. What about a hotel who receives most of their bookings through OTAs? In this case, it comes down to commission. If a hotel pays an average commission of 15% to their OTAs, then paying 15% commission to TripAdvisor is really the same thing. However, if a hotel pays an average of 30% commission to their OTAs, then a 12%-15% commission may sound like a bargain.

So, you want to register your hotel for Instant Booking? Your booking engine must be a TripAdvisor Premium Partner. Hotels no longer need to sign up for a business listing before using TripConnect.

TripConnect CPC

The second part of TripConnect is its cost per click (CPC) platform. With TripConnect CPC, hotels bid against the OTAs they are listed on in order to have their booking engine listed along with the OTAs on TripAdvisor. When a potential guest clicks on the hotel’s booking engine listing they will be taken to the hotel’s booking engine page. The place their booking engine is listed depends on their bid. Advertisers can specify different bids for different countries and also for desktop and mobile devices. TripAdvisor will suggest what bid is needed to put the hotel in first place and also offers insights along the lines of a bid of $x will put you in y place. Hotels also set a maximum daily budget. To use TripConnect CPC hotels just need their booking engine to be a TripAdvisor Connectivity Partner.

Okay, so you may be thinking, Great, so now my hotel’s booking engine is competing against my hotel’s listings on OTAs. It kind of feels like my hotel is paying money to compete against itself. True! It does. After all, we’re talking about TripAdvisor here. But before we write this off, let’s take a closer look. Suppose your hotel doesn’t use TripConnect CPC. A guest arrives on your TripAdvisor page. They put in their travel dates and voila, they see prices for your hotel on Expedia, booking.com and hotels.com. They choose booking.com because it’s displayed as the cheapest option, click on the booking.com logo and complete the reservation on booking.com. At the end of the month the hotel pays 15% commission to booking.com. Now, what if your booking engine was listed along with the three OTAs mentioned above, and has a rate that’s the same as booking.com? Or, maybe your hotel doesn’t sell its cheapest rooms on booking.com, and the rate displayed for your hotel’s booking engine is cheaper than the rate displayed on booking.com. Wow, says the guest. Why would I book with booking.com when I can get the same, or even a cheaper, rate by booking direct? Instead of going to booking.com’s website, the guest books directly with your hotel. They click your reservation system icon, complete the booking through your reservation system, and at the end of the month there’s no 15% commission. What have you spent? In this case, you’ve spent the cost of one click. Maybe $0.50. Maybe $1.00. Maybe a little more. The exact price depends on how the OTAs are bidding and what spot you’d like your booking engine listed in (we’ll touch on this in a bit). In any case, it will be much much less than the 15% commission. Of course, it’s possible some guests will click on your hotel’s booking engine and not book direct through the hotel, or not book at the hotel at all.

Let’s take a look at some common questions.

What place should a hotel aim to have their booking engine listed?

There is no 100% right answer for this, but not being in the top three is almost useless.