TripAdvisor Instant Booking: Testing, Learning and Confusing

Consider the scenario that you are a loyal TripAdvisor user, always scoping out its consumer reviews of hotels before choosing where to stay, and you’ve even booked a hotel on TripAdvisor without leaving the site or app using what the company refers to as Instant Booking.

Comparison-shopping using metasearch sites or features such as on TripAdvisor, Kayak, Google or Hipmunk can be confusing enough for consumers who often think they booked on Kayak when they clicked a link and actually booked through or Hilton.

But the loyal TripAdvisor user who wants to book on TripAdvisor — let alone the consumers who have no clue where they are booking when clicking around metasearch sites — could have a dizzying experience trying to find the TripAdvisor booking option because it is presented in a divergent way, each time they return.

And the book on TripAdvisor option, which most of the time isn’t branded as such in initial search results, even varies from hotel listing to hotel listing.

TripAdvisor’s stock price has been halved over the last year and was trading in late December at around $46 per share, just above its 52-week low, as it labors to get the Instant Booking feature humming even as the company just had a big win in drawing Expedia into the fold.

TripAdvisor’s goal is to retain metasearch and the click-based revenue it generates, but to transform itself into more of a booking site. Becoming a book site would presumably be a more efficient option in light of the proliferation of mobile devices. TripAdvisor seeks to tip its balance sheet toward commissions from bookings instead of merely click-based revenue from referrals.

So TripAdvisor is aggressively testing this book on TripAdvisor feature, and there are countless experiments under way at any given moment, but this must be very confusing to both casual and avid users.

Let’s take a look:

We searched for a hotel in Bruges, Belgium on TripAdvisor’s desktop website for a January 12-17 stay.

Read rest of the article at Skift