In late 2013 TripAdvisor announced the launch of TripConnect™, a new platform designed to help independent hotels capture more direct bookings through CPC campaigns. Then in 2014, it added an innovative new feature called instant booking. Since its launch, there has been some confusion among hoteliers about exactly what TripConnect actually is. Is it a distribution platform or marketing platform? Should it be treated as an OTA or a direct booking?
The truth is that it’s a little bit of both. There is TripConnect instant booking, which allows travelers to book hotels via the TripAdvisor site, and there is TripConnect CPC, a more traditional ad model that links back to the hotel website. As an official TripConnect™ Premium Partner, we here at Travel Tripper are here to explain exactly how these two elements work.
TripConnect instant booking
The first part of TripConnect is the new instant booking feature, which allows travelers to book directly with a hotel without leaving the TripAdvisor site. TripAdvisor simply pulls rates and availability from the hotel’s connectivity partner (RezTrip, if you’re a Travel Tripper client) and displays them on the hotel’s TripAdvisor property page alongside a “Book on TripAdvisor” button. Users can click the button to complete their reservation. This creates a seamless booking flow and encourages conversion on all of TripAdvisor’s online channels (website, tablet, and mobile).
Does this cost me anything?
There is a commission rate of 12% or 15% of all reservations completed through TripConnect instant booking. As a hotel, you select the commission rate. The rate you select affects how often the “Book with TripAdvisor” button appears for users in search results. Select the 15% commision and the button will appear in 50% of search results for your hotel, and for a 12% commission the button will appear in 25% of search results for your hotel.
How is the TripConnect commission fee different from an OTA commission fee?
Besides the commission fee being considerably less than a standard OTA commission (25-30%), the key difference between TripConnect instant booking and OTAs is that these bookings are treated as direct bookings in the CRS. The hotel remains the merchant of record for the sale.
Why is this important?
Being the merchant of record for a booking means that your hotel can take advantage of pre-arrival marketing, something you cannot do with an OTA booking. As a hotel, you will be able to email the guest directly to collect guest preferences, promote ancillary products (spa or dining offers, for example), or offer advanced check-in or room upgrades. Check out this guide to pre-arrival email marketing for more ideas.
TripConnect Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
TripConnect’s CPC program is a more traditional advertising model in which the hotel pays for positioning on a “book now” button on the hotel’s TripAdvisor property page. TripAdvisor maintains three large booking buttons for each hotel listing, which go to the three highest bidders that sell your hotel’s inventory, whether it’s your hotel website or your OTA distributors. Other bidders get placement in the links listed underneath those three main buttons.
The fee structure is similar to Google AdWords. You pay your bid fee for every click to your hotel website (whether it’s the large booking button or the text link), and it does not matter whether the guest actually makes the reservation.
What should I bid to get on the top three booking buttons?
If your hotel distributes through the big OTAs—Expedia, Priceline, etc.—expect to compete with their rather large advertising budgets when it comes to bidding for CPC. You’ll want to do accurate cost-per-acquisition calculations for your OTA channels and direct booking channels to get a sense of what you should allot to your CPC budget. Digital marketing specialists, such as the team that we have here at Travel Tripper, can help you build, budget, and maintain these sorts of campaigns.
So which TripConnect platform is better for me?
You can actually use both to your benefit! TripConnect instant booking is a “pay for stay” model—there is no upfront investment, and you only pay when a guest completes a reservation. Supplementing your instant booking campaign with a TripConnect CPC is a good way to ensure that your hotel’s rates and availability always appear in search results.
Remember, TripConnect dynamically pulls pricing for your hotel for every search result, so whether you’re using instant booking or CPC it’s important that your rates are in parity with the OTAs. A good CRS like RezTrip will help you to manage rates and availability across all these channels.
Travel Tripper is an official TripConnect™ Premium Partner. If you are a RezTrip client, contact our client services department to learn more, or click below to sign up directly with TripAdvisor.