TripAdvisor chief on Instant Book and hotel direct campaigns

TripAdvisor president and chief executive Steve Kaufer admitted there was initial push back from hotels about Instant Book because he did a “phenomenally terrible” job explaining it.

Speaking at this week’s Phocuswright Europe conference in Dublin, Kaufer said response about something it thought was “hotel-friendly” was “stand-offish”.

“I just did a phenomenally terrible job explaining what we were trying to do,” he added.

“There was a lot of tension between OTAs and hotel and hotels thought we were just going to become one of them.

“That was a bad thing in their eye and not something that they wanted to help. We said we have a lot of travellers and a lot are saying to us explicitly that they want to book with the hotel direct.

“But that message did not come across,” Kaufer added, saying hotels now appreciate Instant Book as another distribution channel.

Kaufer said TripAdvisor was not looking to bind hotels in long-term contracts with Instant Book to lock in partners and they were free to just use its meta model if it does not work for them.

“We look to stay in business for a really long time in the hotel industry. We want these folks to really appreciate our role in the ecosystem and most of them do today.”

Instant Book was rolled out in Europe in the first quarter of this year having initially been launched in the US.

Kaufer said the longer the facility is live the more data TripAdvisor has collected and the better it works. He said the clock has now starting ticking in Europe as Instant Book changes user behaviour.

Asked about recent attempts by hotel brands to persuade consumers to book direct, in particular a hard-hitting campaign by Hilton, Kaufer said:

“It’s a long journey for the chains to persuade the leisure travellers to always book direct with them.

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