3 May 2011

Successful Hotel Marketing - the TripAdvisor Effect!

If the Internet was a high street then the TripAdvisor shop would be about 10 times bigger than its nearest competitor. 

And this shop would be chock full of customers, all looking to book hotels and travel. For hotel marketeers TripAdvisor represents the biggest shop window that could be used to promote your business. Successful hotels need to ensure that their internet marketing strategy takes full advantage of the TripAdvisor effect. Here's why.

TripAdvisor is the world's leading travel website, attracting more than 50 million unique visitors every month across 18 travel brands in 20 different languages. In April Hitwise revealed that TripAdvisor had a combined market share of 12.85% in the Destinations and Accommodation sector (NB over 99% of all other travel websites get much less than 1% market share). If you are looking to promote your hotel to literally millions of interested travel consumers (which you are) then you need to understand how you can leverage the power of TripAdvisor. If you work for a successful hotel then TripAdvisor probably gives you more marketing exposure to highly qualified potential customers than ANY OTHER on-line distribution channel that you might consider.

It is worth noting that TripAdvisor got to this point primarily through people power - it is the largest travel site in the world 'as voted for by the public'. Consumers trust this site to obtain recommendations on hotels and also access detailed travel planning features and functionality. They interact with the site publishing their own reviews, recommendations and observations on hotels they've stayed at, restaurants visited and visitor attraction experiences. At present TripAdvisor has something like 20 million members providing this User Generated content - and the site is still growing.

But whilst TripAdvisor has grown as a consumer focussed site the savvy hotel marketeer will also be looking to exploit the commercial opportunities that exist to help grow business, profits and satisfied customers.

Early last year saw the launch of a new division called TripAdvisor for Business. This is an important move for the hotel industry. For too long the industry felt disconnected from TripAdvisor and potentially frustrated when reviews were posted that showed hotels in a bad light. Hotels wanted to be able to reply to these reviews and put their perspective on a customers opinion. TripAdvisor for Business addresses these issues and potentially offers a great deal more. Hotels can now register for a range of free of charge facilities or pay to have a Business Listing to properly enhance their presence on the site.

Hotels should now view TripAdvisor as an opportunity to get:
  • commission free bookings
  • special offers promoted
  • reputation management tools
  • market intelligence
  • free technology
  • positive customer reviews

TripAdvisor now has an Owners Centre where you can sign up and start to take control of how your hotel is promoted on the site.

Once registered with Business Listings you can:
  • make your property one click or call away from 1000s of potential guests searching your area
  • add your contact information (phone, website address, and e-mail) to the top of your listing page
  • create a special offer which will be seen on the first page of your local hotel search results and in e-mails to TripAdvisor members
Without a Business Listing your potential customers will still be able to book with your hotel but they will be directed to one of TripAdvisor's partners eg Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com etc who will all charge their commission on the sale.

With a Business Listing the consumer has the option to contact you directly and book on your preferred booking pages on your own website. Replacing third party bookings with direct bookings will make a potentially massive difference to your profitability. 

Even with a free business account you can: 
  • Update your business details
  • Showcase your business with great photos
  • Receive e-mail notification of new reviews
  • Respond to guest reviews
  • Promote your business with free widgets and badges
  • Compare your business with competitors by tracking your performance
All of the above is not only really useful it is important because you are being allowed much greater control over how your hotel is promoted on the world's largest travel website. And the research suggests that this will make you money!

Research conducted by Forrester indicated that some properties were getting a return of investment in excess of 4,000%. "Independent Study Shows Business Listings Yielded $50 in Incremental Bookings for Every Dollar Spent While Varden Hotel Study Shows TripAdvisor Business Listings Generated Surge in Quality Leads in 2010 with 4,150% ROI".

Hoteliers that are likely to achieve higher-than-average benefits have the following characteristics:
  • Small hotels of 100 rooms or fewer.
  • Hotels with high popularity rankings in high-traffic-count geographies.
  • Hotels with online marketing savvy that take advantage of Special Offers.
  • Properties where revenue management and marketing work together using web analytics tools to track clicks and conversion rates.
  • Hotels that in addition to adding their website link in their Business Listings use dedicated email addresses and telephone numbers to track incremental booked revenue associated with their Business Listings subscription.

UPDATE May 6th 2011: TripAdvisor release Forrester report highlighting "For Red Carnation Hotels’ London-based Hotel 41, TripAdvisor’s Business Listings produced a very positive 4,830%
risk-adjusted ROI and a very quick — within one month — horizon to recoup the investment." 

That's the TripAdvisor Effect!

The full report from Forrester can be found HERE and for more information on TripAdvisor Business Listings, please see http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/BusinessListings