One hotel chain, Marriott International, which participates in TripAdvisor Instant Booking, and one that doesn’t, Hilton Worldwide, are now both using TripAdvisor’s comparison shopping and booking features to persuade travelers through advertising to book direct on the hotels’ respective websites.
In the case of Marriott, its advertising campaign in TripAdvisor’s mobile app elicits some strange — yet logical — dynamics as Marriott competes against its own TripAdvisor-Marriott partnership. As you can see in the screenshot (below left), consumers can get a $149 rate for a stay at Marriott’s Canyon Villas in Phoenix if they book the room on TripAdvisor with Marriott Vacation Club handling the booking and performing the customer service.
But you can also see at the bottom of the same screenshot a Special Offer, which turns out to be from Marriott. In the next screenshot (below right), Marriott Rewards advertises that members can receive a 20 percent discount if they book on Marriott.com using a promotion code. It turns out the Marriott.com rate would be $146 instead of $149 through TripAdvisor/Marriott Vacation Club in TripAdvisor Instant Booking although the chain promises a 20 percent discount when using the promotion code.
So why would Marriott agree to be a TripAdvisor partner and then undercut that partnership by advertising to consumers on the same screen within TripAdvisor metasearch that they can can a lower rate on Marriott.com?
Let’s backtrack a bit. TripAdvisor in 2015 launched Instant Booking, which enables consumers to book hotels on TripAdvisor without having to click off to partner sites as they do through TripAdvisor metasearch. When an Instant Booking occurs, TripAdvisor partner hotels such as Marriott, Accor, Starwood and Wyndham and online travel agencies such as Booking.com, Agoda and Laterooms.com perform the customer service in the background.