Category Archives: Marketing

Exploring TripAdvisor Programs: TripConnect Instant Booking and TripConnect CPC

Connecting the world of travellers with prospective hotels, inns and B&Bs to formulate their upcoming travel plans, TripAdvisor TripConnect introduced 2 powerful programs of TripConnect CPC (cost per click) and TripConnect Instant Booking. Launched in 2014, both programs quickly became a market favourite for accommodation providers as well as travellers all around the world. TripAdvisor truly believes that both programs will significantly increase monetization, as the travellers all around the world establish a direct relation with the hotel through the trusted medium of TripAdvisor.

However, understanding the difference between both the services can be a little bewildering. Nonetheless, I will help you differentiate between TripConnect CPC (cost per click) and TripConnect Instant Booking and get a hang of both the services.

Explore the TripAdvisor programs to increase hotel revenue

TripConnect Instant Booking

Being one the largest review platform, TripAdvisor enjoys more than 10 million unique visitors on daily basis. Travellers from all over the globe rate, review and now even book travels with the online review giant. The unique feature of Instant Booking allows hoteliers to take advantage of their ‘pay-per-booking commission’ model and enrich their online bookings. Instant Booking offers the traveller opportunity to immediately confirm the booking at your hotel without even leaving the metasearch site of TripAdvisor.

Functions of TripConnect Instant Booking

Along with hotel reviews, the metasearch engine also allows the traveller to compare the real-time rates and availability of your property. Furthermore, the Instant Booking model offers the booker to instantly confirm the hotel booking by clicking on ‘Book on TripAdvisor’ button. Adding to the advantage, TripAdvisors delivers all the guest information to you from the first point on, and you are directly in contact with your guest without any interference of the middle agent.

As the entire concept works around the ‘pay-per-booking model , you only pay commission for the confirmed booking. Additionally, the travel giant offers you 2 different commission rates to choose from, 15% commission per booking ensures that you receive half of the bookings received on TripAdvisor. On the other hand, the commission rate of 12% brings in the hotel on 1/4th of the booking through Instant Booking. The remaining booking which are not claimed by your hotels is passed on to the OTAs connected to your hotel with you ultimately paying the OTA commission.

Moreover, the simple yet innovative service of Instant Booking requires no bidding, no deposits and the commission to the company is only paid after the guest stay.

Click here to enrol your property with TripConnect Instant Booking. 

TripConnect Cost-Per-Click

Another program introduced by TripAdvisor is the TripConnect Cost-Per-Click (CPC). Similar to Instant Booking, this program also allows travellers to view real time rate and inventory of the property. However, instead of offering the traveller option to book from TripAdvdisor platform, TripConnect CPC offers direct booking to the hotel by redirecting the booker to your hotel’s website.

Functions of TripConnect CPC

Contradicting the Instant Booking plan, the TripConnect CPC program works on ‘cost per click ’ programme which requires you to bid the amount you pay per person, visiting your website through TripAdvisor. The hindrance here is that the place of your hotel on the price comparison search bar is determined by the price of your bidding. Thus, the bidding structure gets a little complex here, as the highest bidder is placed on the top of the price comparison search bar as you are once again competing with the might OTAs ( you are connected with) for direct bookings. The CPC model ranks your hotel’s position according to your bidding, and higher your ranking more you get noticed. As soon as the booker clicks on your property’s website link, he is redirected to your hotel’s website to further confirm the booking. In this policy, your hotel is charged for the click regardless if the traveller actually completes the booking or not.

You can refer to TripConnect CPC user guide

You can enroll your property for TripConnect CPC programme from TripConnect website

Which program is better for your property-TripConnect Instant Booking or Cost-Per-Click?

Through both the programs, TripAdvisor is offering hoteliers a power and low costing platform for gaining a tremendous online exposure. Identifying on you requirements and expectations you can choose either of the programs to increase your online sales or you can benefit immensely by strategizing a combination of both.

image 2 - Explore the TripAdvisor programs to increase hotel revenue

The eZee Connection

eZee is a Premium Partner of TripAdvisor TripConnect and has established a s

How to Increase Bookings with TripAdvisor

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Everyone knows and most likely have heard of TripAdvisor at this point in time. For the uninitiated, TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site with up to 280 million unique visitors each month, 32 million members and over 150 millions reviews and opinions available online.

It is traveler’s first stop to learn about a hotel they are looking into and see what other people have to say about it. And it is only growing with 90 user generated reviews per minute allowing travelers around the world to be make more informed decisions.

TripAdvisor with its Business Listing service give options to hoteliers around the world to take complete advantage of the exposure they can receive. With a Business Listing you can share your hotel’s contact information, special offers, website link, and directly connect with your guests. In addition, your contact information will be displayed on your mobile listing page as well.

Business Listings will give hotels access to :

Direct Contact Information:

Add up-to-date contact details to your hotel’s profile page making it easy for your travelers to book directly.

Special Offers:

Perfect place to highlight special promotions and offers attracting more travelers.

TripConnect:

This service will allow hotel subscribers to appear in Hotel Price Comparison search showing rate and availability to users.

Property Dashboard:

As a Business Listings subscriber, you get exclusive access to Property Dashboard which lets you access important analysis such as competitor metrics, local market trends, visitor details and overall performance of hotel on TripAdvisor.

Sideshow and Announcements:

This will let you post important updates and news for the readers. In addition, the photos uploaded will automatically be converted into a slideshow for your travelers viewing pleasure.

So now you got your hotel in Business Listings, So how can you make the best use of the tools provided? Read on to find out:

Reply To Reviews:

Probably the single most important thing you can do is to reply the reviews posted by users, after all that’s what people read the most on TripAdvisor. Regardless if your hotel has received a positive or negative review, it is very important that you reply to it no matter what. Just a simple a reply can put big impressions on travelers. If possible, have a dedicated person who looks after reviews online and establish the practice for managing online reviews.

Update Information:

It is more common than you think that many times hotels might have the wrong number listed or the page has not been updated. This is probably the worst thing you could do, the traveler will most likely avoid your hotel if the information is wrong or is not up to date.

Write Proper Descriptions:

Spend quality time on the description which potential guests are going to read. It is very important write a proper and detailed description of your hotel, as you are the best person to do so. Description should Speak the strengths of your location and services you provide, setting yourself apart from the competition.

Right Photos:

The best way to showcase your hotel is to have the right combination of high quality photos of your property. Have a diverse collection of pictures that not only show your rooms and lobby but also other facilities. Get creative with your pictures, take pictures of art and decor in your lobby, show case rooms with different view points, pictures of views from your hotel rooms etc.

Showcase Awards:

TripAdvisor regularly rewards hotels with their Travelers’ Choice Awards which cover various categories. If your hotel has received one, make sure to highlight that on your hotel website and TripAdvisor page.

TripAdvisor with various options available for hoteliers, allow them to maximize their online presence. Hoteliers with the right practice in place can have the same exposure like big brands and increase their bookings.

Survey: What Travelers Are Looking For In Online Reviews

Online reviews play an important role when travelers are choosing a place to stay for their travel. The rise of travel sites, review websites, and social media has made it easy and convenient for travelers to look at others travel experiences and opinions. In one of the latest survey conducted by Software Advice, some of the results were obvious and some very surprising. This information can help hotels to understand customer behavior and changing trends among travelers.

In the latest survey conducted by Software Advice in which they chose 2,500 travelers to find out exactly what they look for in hotel reviews when booking a hotel. Staggering 79% of respondents said that they trust online reviews by other travelers on various travel and review websites as much as they trust recommendations coming from close family and friends.

One of the main objectives of the survey was to find out exactly how and why travelers use online reviews and what other aspects of these reviews they find most convincing when booking a hotel. You can read about the findings with important aspects with a corresponding charts highlighted below.

Large Number of Young Consumers Use Reviews Before Booking

When the survey asked travelers how often they checked online reviews of a hotel before booking a room, 46 percent of them used online reviews “sometimes,” “most of the time” or “always”.

How often do you check online customer reviews for a hotel before booking a room?
How often do you check online customer reviews for a hotel before booking a room?

Among the respondents, the largest group said they never checked online customer reviews and those who did use online reviews skewed younger: 30 percent of them belong to age group of 25 to 34 years old who used reviews most of the time, and 28 percent in the age bracket of 18-24 always use reviews.

Demographics: Online Review Usage by Age
Demographics: Online Review Usage by Age

Taylor Short of Software Advice, a company that evaluates hotel booking software had to say this regarding the trend among young travelers, “ Younger age groups between 18 to 34 are the most frequent users of online hotel reviews, most often to initially identify hotels to consider booking.”

These trends are a result of increasing internet access and mobile use, specifically among young travelers. The rise of review websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp is due to in large part to the increased use of Travel Apps and mobile browsing.

Majority of Reviews Are Used to Identity Possibilities

Next, the survey asked respondents on what exactly they were looking for when looking at online reviews before booking a hotel. 35 percent of them use to identity hotels to consider, while 28 percent use them to narrow down their choices to selected few.

What is your most common reason for checking online customer reviews of hotels?
What is your most common reason for checking online customer reviews of hotels?

19 percent of respondents use reviews to find the best price for their choice of hotels and rest 18 percent to confirm their final choice of hotel.

Internet is the first place to look for hotel and travel information for majority of the travelers today. The popularity of review websites providing all the information and photos can be easily accessed today via various devices easily. Today’s traveler directly search for for hotels on a review site instead of directly checking the website of the hotel or even calling the property.

Expedia is the Most Popular Online Hotel Review Website

Expedia came on top as the most popular online hotel review website when travelers were asked which site they use most often, with 38%. Popular travel review site TripAdvisor came in second with 28 percent and third was Hotels.com, at 25 percent.

When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you use most often?
When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you use most often?

Among other options, Booking.com, received 6 percent. Two percent of the travelers chose none of the above and entered their own choice of website, including Hotewire.com, Kayak.com or just a Google search.

TripAdvisor and Expedia generate traffic of 260 million and 60 million visitors per monthly respectively, both of the websites offer different services to the travelers, which accounts for these numbers.

TripAdvisor offers reviews and hotel information for travelers and directing them offsite to complete a booking. Expedia on other hand operates as a full-service travel site, selling multiple types of travel arrangements such as flights, car rentals and hotels from a single point, in addition to offering reviews.

TripAdvisor and Expedia Are the Most Trusted Review Websites

Now we know which websites were used by travelers, next was the question of which websites were the most trustworthy? Surprisingly even though most of the respondents used Expedia more than TripAdvisor, both websites were equally trusted, at 34 percent.

When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you consider most trustworthy?
When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you consider most trustworthy?

The rest of the results were pretty much the same as last set: 24 percent trusted Hotels.com, and 6 percent predominantly trust Booking.com

TripAdvisor was one of the first travel websites to embrace and promote user-generated content back in 2000, it is evident from their growth that majority of the travelers may prefer unfiltered reviews. In case of Expedia, it might not receive the same level of engagement but it does verify reviews with hotels by checking sales record ensuring that reviews are real. However, at the end the type of reviews come down to personal preference.

Taylor Short further adds “Travelers say they most often use Expedia over TripAdvisor to check online hotel reviews, but results show they trust both equally. This may be a result of each website offering different types of reviews.”

Most Important Review Information Is The Hotel Price

When travelers are looking at these online reviews, what is the most important information that they’re looking for? 58 percent responded say that the price of the room is important to them.

When reading reviews of hotels online, what’s the most important type of information you’re looking for?
When reading reviews of hotels online, what’s the most important type of information you’re looking for?

Other important information travelers look for in reviews includes proximity to local attractions (16 percent) and aesthetic features, such as the size of the room or the view (15 percent). Description of on-site amenities, such as a gym or restaurant received 10 percent of the vote.

In “Other” category, respondents were given a chance to enter their own answer, and everyone stated that information about room cleanliness was a big factor for them. Among rest of the comments mentioned “Safety,” “Quality” and “Overall Experience.”

There is, however, a significant difference when looking at how each gender answered the question. Out of 15 percent travelers for whom aesthetic features was important, 63 percent were female and rest 37 percent male. Conversely, of those who said on-site amenities were most important, 59 percent were male, versus 41 percent female.

Demographics: Most Important Hotel Review Information by Gender
Demographics: Most Important Hotel Review Information by Gender

Guest-Submitted Comments Most Enticing Review Element

We know price is an important factor to consumer looking at online hotel reviews, but we wanted to know other factors convinces them to book a room. We asked travelers what element would most entice them to book, and 40 percent say specific, guest-submitted comments in the reviews are most effective at driving their decision to purchase.

Which element of an online hotel review would be most likely to entice you to book a room?
Which element of an online hotel review would be most likely to entice you to book a room?

The next most enticing feature was the hotel’s percent or star rating according to 29 percent of the respondents and 18 percent sighting guest-submitted photos of the rooms. The least enticing element of a review, according to the results is the hotel’s ranking relative to other hotels in the area for 13 percent of the travelers.

While the last question revealed that price is a huge factor, this data shows that, with the amount of information available online, travelers are looking at the bigger picture to make decisions.

Nearly Half Wouldn’t Pay More for a Well-Reviewed Hotel

As much as travelers claim they value online reviews, our findings show they might not necessarily want to pay more for a room just because of positive reviews. 47 percent replied that they wouldn’t any more for a hotel with positive reviews over one without positive reviews.

How much more might you be willing to pay for a hotel with positive online guest reviews over one without?
How much more might you be willing to pay for a hotel with positive online guest reviews over one without?

30 percent of respondents say they would pay a “a little more” and other 17 percent said they would “moderately more” for rooms with positive reviews. Very few of the travelers said they would pay “much more” or “twice as much or more”.

As we can tell from the survey that online comments can entice consumers to book a room, it seems like they do not feel like paying much more for one with positive reviews. Many consumers tend to for the overall value which could be a result consumer behavior changing from the recent economic slump.

Conclusion

The survey results clearly show that 18 – 34 year-olds tend to use online reviews to find potential places to stay. TripAdvisor or Expedia generally used by this age group for looking at the price and user reviews. But they won’t spend much more for a hotel with positive reviews over one with without.

Majority of hospitality professionals today realize the impact of authentic guest reviews, and their primary target is the younger age groups, who are willing to spend more of their disposable income on travel.

Taylor Short stats “Many hotel brands have discovered the fact that using reputation management software helps them keep an eye for negative reviews across the Web. Having that information quicker means hotels can respond sooner and have more proactive presence online.”

As the survey concludes that knowing the most important aspects of your hotel’s online reviews and how consumers use them can really help your hotel’s marketing campaigns more efficiently. The marketing team can perform reputation management more effectively and entice the travelers to book with your hotel.

Importance of Hotel Software for Small & Mid-Size Hotels

The importance of Hotel Management Software or Property Management System for hotels cannot be stressed enough anymore. It is one of the most important factors which contribute significantly to the long-term success of a hotel.

In recent years, there has been a rise of budget travelers around the world which has led to rise in number of small to mid-size hotels in the industry. This has drastically changed the landscape of the Hospitality industry in general and also directly affected the Hospitality IT industry.

Hotel Management Software (HMS) BuyerView 2014, a survey conducted by HMS research firm Software Advice, who surveyed 385 randomly selected buyers in 2013. The survey was conducted in order to discover what exactly buyers expect or want when they are choosing software for their property.

According to the report, 54% of hotel management software purchasers in the industry are independent small to mid-size hotels. The report also states that majority of the buyers are adapting to the latest software in order to leave behind the manual management of their property and buyers who are specifically looking for a software which offer reservation and online booking facilities.

Majority of Purchaser are small to Mid-size Hotels

Majority of the owners or managers, who are looking for a software solution represent (57%) properties which have 10 to 50 rooms. A combined 11 percent of buyers are from very small properties such as B&B’s, Inns, chain hotels, or large hotels with 500 plus rooms.

Majority of Purchaser are small to Mid-size Hotels

Independent Hotels, Resorts and Inns are the Primary Customer

When consulted with various managers and owners of different property types, the report found that around 1 percent is looking for software for a large hotel or a chain hotel. This is not surprising as the big brands usually have to go for in-house or corporate-mandated software. The rise of independent properties is very evident from the fact that majority of the buyers (54 percent combined) comprised of independent hotels, inns, and resorts.

HMS buyerview images.002

As the travelers are also opting more for independent hotels, inns and resorts, the properties have to adapt to new technology and advancements to keep up with the growing demand.

Majority of the buyers want to upgrade to a better system

When questioned about what method they currently use to manage their properties, 34 percent respondents are already using a property management system. The next 28 percent use manual methods consisting of spreadsheets or paper, on other hand 15 percent had no method in place.

HMS buyerview images.003

The “Other” categories (10 percent) use independent booking system or have stopped using a property management system. 7 percent of buyers use management software with reservation facility to meet their requirement, and last 4 percent use software built specifically for them.

Buyers want feature-rich and faster software

The report also highlights the diverse set of reasons which buyers have provided. Approximately 18 percent are looking for speed and efficiency in software which is also compatible with the latest hardware in the market. 16 percent of respondents said they go for a new product because the current one being used lack the necessary features, such internet bookings and channel management, other 15 percent just wants to improve efficiency.

HMS buyerview images.004

The rise of Global Distribution System (GDS) channels over last few years is no surprise as online bookings have become a standard norm in the industry today and since 2011 bookings from GDS has grown by 14 percent. Making it a surprise to no one that one of the most frequently request feature is the feature to connect to the (GDS) and system with ability to manage real-time rates and inventory.

Among others looking for an upgrade towards new software is bad experience with support service (15 percent), lack of satisfaction with user interface or GUI for other 9 percent and unsound technical software for the 7 percent of the respondents and remaining 6 percent are looking for a solution which requires minimum investment.

First timers expect higher efficiency

HMS buyerview images.005

72 percent of first-time buyers for hotel software make it clear that they want to achieve higher efficiency in their day-to-day operations and get away from the traditional methods. Property Management System can automate daily operations and bring a higher level of efficiency.

Majority of Buyers Need Reservation and Guest Management

28 percent of total respondents, the highest in this survey said they would like the ability to enter and edit reservations, which is a central function of a property management system. The next 22 percent buyers want an online booking capability giving them a competitive advantage, which does not surprise as 65% of hotel bookings now are made online.

HMS buyerview images.006

Approximately 11 percent would use guest management feature which will help them maintain information about their guests in order to understand them better and provide better service in the future.

Housekeeping management was important for 9 percent of respondents and another 9 percent expect advanced accounting and reporting feature. Lastly 6 percent of hoteliers want a distribution management and marketing functions part of their hotel management software.

Implementation in less than three months

HMS buyerview images.007

Staggering 85 of buyers expect the new hotel software to be implemented in less than 3 months; given the nature of the industry and how fast things are evolving it comes as no surprise. 14 percent want system to be implemented in three to six months, and remaining 2 percent in 6 to 12 months ahead of time.

Conclusion

Analysis by Software Advice Team, reflected in the report clearly shows the diversity and rapid expansion of independent hotels and how they are demanding higher-performing systems with latest features. As the competition is heating up across the industry, first-time buyers or buyers who are upgrading are looking for a solid property management system with specific features, real-time reservation, online bookings, channel management and guest management as it is the key to constantly grow and stay ahead of the competition.