TripAdvisor says it offers "candid reviews...all by travelers like you," but now it's promising to do something a little different too.
Would you trust the authenticity of a hotel or restaurant page managed by the hotel or restaurant themselves?
Such is the new reality for TripAdvisor, which recently launched an enhanced suite of tools and subscription-based ad products for hotel and restaurants intended to give brands more control of their pages.
The two programs, "Business Advantage" for hotels and "TripAdvisor Premium" for Restaurants," offer hospitality marketers new capabilities and greater control over features, such as review placement and photos.
The Business Advantage program will enable hotel marketers with the opportunity to feature a "favorite review" toward the top of the company's profile page. In addition, the program will give hotels the ability to present "best photos" and "cover photos" for every album on the hotel profile page, thereby eliminating the immediate visibility of any possible incriminating "traveler photos." The program will also offer an enhanced analytics suite, where hotel marketers can compare extensive traveler, engagement and competitor data.
TripAdvisor Premium for Restaurants offers some similar capabilities - favorite reviews, enhanced analytics; but it also provides restaurant marketers with new features, like "Storyboard."
TripAdvisor says Storyboard "will enable restaurants to turn their static photos and reviews into a dynamic visual presentation that showcases a restaurant's best features and delivers a powerful first impression to new customers, as well as a reminder for why past customers should dine again."
While the new features and products are strong attributes for a hotel and restaurant marketer, the result seems likely to resemble a self-curated Yelp, as well as potentially providing the consumer with a less reliable search experience.
Basic listings remain free; however, the enhanced listings are fee-based (a formula for the restaurant offering based on traffic). TripAdvisor offers both PPC and subscription-based advertising.
Currently, TripAdvisor boasts more than four million restaurant listings and 100 million reviews on the site, with an estimated 400 million monthly uniques. In the third quarter of 2016, TripAdvisor reported revenues of $421 million, roughly 17 percent of which is based on subscriptions. Total revenue for 2015 was $1.5 billion.
If these programs produce successful results for hotel and restaurant marketers, there is no doubt the numbers for 2017 will increase. However, trust among users may not.
—This story first appeared in DMN.