Budgets in hospitality are always tight, and hoteliers, restaurateurs and other hospitality professionals constantly find themselves asking, “do I need to pay for this, or will the free version work just fine?”. Your TripAdvisor listing is no exception.
No one likes paying for things they can get for free, but we also all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So, we have put together a quick guide to TripAdvisor’s premium (paid-for) services, and why you may (or may not) benefit from using them.
Business Advantage – for Hotels
Do first impressions count? The Business Advantage package serves to give hoteliers more control over the first impression a user or guest receives when they land on their hotel’s listing page.
|Image (c) TripAdvisor Business Advantage|
- The ability to choose a favourite review to feature near the top of your listing
- The option to choose which “cover photos” and “favourite photos” user’s see first and to put together a slideshow of handpicked images to showcase your property’s best aspects
- An area on your listing where you can share contact details with guests, including your phone number (with a click-to-call function on mobile), email address and, crucially, a link to your property’s own website (great if you have a ‘book direct’ strategy in place)
- The ability to promote special offers and make announcements – for example, if you have improved an aspect of your property that was attracting criticism, you can announce that you have rectified the issue
- Access to more advanced analytics capabilities where you can see competitor and user engagement data, such as data on how visitors interact with the information, offers and images on your listing that can help you make it even better. It also gives you the ability to measure your TripAdvisor reputation against your competitors and gauge your market position against market trends.
Instant Booking – for Hotels
TripAdvisor’s foray into the realm of the online travel agent (OTA) allows travellers to book a hotel directly through TripAdvisor with Instant Booking. In return for exposure to their vast audience, TripAdvisor charges hotels a commission fee. The amount charged (12% or 15%) depends on how many “traveller views” the hotelier would like access to. Some points to know:
|Image (c) TripAdvisor Instant Booking|
- No upfront payment or subscription, so you only pay for bookings you actually get
- “Live rates” mean that you can change your rates in accordance with your own revenue management strategies
However, like all non-direct or OTA channels, there are some serious drawbacks to getting bookings this way, such as loss of brand identity, and possibly a reduced capacity to communicate directly with guests before and after their stays.
TripAdvisor Premium – for Restaurants
A relatively new addition to the TripAdvisor suite, Premium is for restaurants what Business Advantage is for hotels. The main focus of the product is on allowing restaurateurs to customise the first impression that visitors get when they land on the listing. This is particularly important on mobile and for restaurants, where decisions are made more quickly than they usually are for hotels. Premium allows managers:
- To choose a favourite review to feature near the top of your listing, including a favourite review for each available language
- Access to priority phone support
- The ability to put together a “storyboard” which turns your favourite images and reviews into a nifty visual presentation
- To create a video slideshow featuring your best images
- Access to more advanced analytics
TheFork – for Restaurants
Although not on the TripAdvisor website itself, TheFork is owned and operated by TripAdvisor, and proudly proclaims it is “a TripAdvisor company”. Similar to instant booking, TheFork is a booking channel for restaurants, although it is only operational in a few cities, mainly in Europe, so far. Even within TheFork itself, there are paid and free options available to restaurateurs. The pro package, however, with all the perks, goes for 89 euros per month. Some features of TheFork include:
|Image (c) TheFork|
- A built-in reservations management system
- A customer relations management system that creates profiles of diners so that you can communicate with them in the future
- A booking widget that can be used on the restaurant’s own website, and a booking button on Facebook and TripAdvisor (bookings that don’t come via TheFork or Tripadvisor are not charged commission)
- A free template-based but customisable website for the restaurant
What you can’t get
TripAdvisor makes it very clear that while their range of products is there to allow hoteliers greater control over their listing’s appearance, they will in no way allow you to manipulate the feedback from your customers, or present a false image to their users.
You won’t be able to remove reviews just because you don’t agree with them – the rules are the same for everyone – and you will have to follow the same procedure as free clients if you feel your establishment is being blackmailed or treated unfairly by a reviewer.
In short, TripAdvisor’s paid options allow you the opportunity to make a good first impression – an opportunity that only comes once – at a price tailored to your establishment’s size, region and traffic.