The major travel review platform has announced the launch of the new TripAdvisor Plus service, a subscription program that will allow hotels and other accommodations to expand their visibility and reach an audience ready to book their vacation.
The news that marks TripAdvisor Plus is the opportunity for hoteliers to increase the visibility of their properties completely free of charge. In fact, as the CEO and co-founder of TripAdvisor Steve Kaufer explained: “Unlike OTAs such as Expedia or Booking, TripAdvisor will not charge any commissions to hotels participating in the program. Instead, the company will ask for a commitment to offer Plus members the ability to book rooms at a discounted price “.
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Travelers will have to pay a subscription of $ 99 per year, in exchange for which they will have access to numerous benefits. These include the possibility to view and book rooms at discounted rates, and the guarantee that these special prices will not be available on any other online site, thus saving the integrity of the hotel. The minimum discount required at the properties is 10%, to which other customer benefits can be added, including room upgrades, free breakfast, spa credits, or welcome gifts such as a bottle of wine.
Which are the advantages that the program offers to accommodation facilities? As mentioned above, the most relevant one is without doubt the absence of commissions. “Typically, hotels that work with OTAs have to pay significant costs, including both online distribution and commission fees. Subscribing to TripAdvisor Plus helps reduce these costs, ”explains Johanna Bonhill-Smith, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData. In addition, by participating in the program, hotels gain full access to customer information for each booking, thus obtaining the opportunity to provide guests with a better experience, enhancing the relationship with the customer, and increasing satisfaction and loyalty. By joining the service, hotels can also increase their demand thanks to greater visibility on TripAdvisor, resulting from a higher position in the list filtered by main properties, regardless of whether a traveler books on TripAdvisor Plus or not. Finally, thanks to the absence of annual commitments and requirements for the last available rooms, hotels have full flexibility, as they can activate and deactivate discounts at any time, based on the trend in the occupancy rate.
As for the opinions on the launch of TripAdvisor Plus, hotel industry experts agree that it is a sound strategy on the part of the platform, especially in this period of economic crisis generated by the pandemic. “Hotels will join the program in bulk- says Max Starkov, consultant of Hospitality and Online Travel – and they cannot blame them, since for them it is a much cheaper alternative than OTAs”. The main doubts concern the consumer side more than anything else. In fact, TripAdvisor has indicated the upper range of travelers as the most interested in the Plus service, as consumers who have a higher income. Will it therefore be a service dedicated to the niche of travelers with a higher economic availability, or will it also reach the general public?
Regarding the activation date, TripAdvisor Plus was launched in the United States in December 2020, in beta and only for a small part of the US traffic; however, the company has stated that it will shortly be made available to all US travelers. While there is still no roadmap for expanding the service to international markets, TripAdvisor is already encouraging hotels around the world to join the Plus program.
Although we cannot quantify the benefits that Tripadvisor Plus will bring to the structures, it is certainly a tool to be activated since the cost for the structures is equal to 0. But the question that arises is how many users can be relied on?
How will Tripadvisor convince the people of the web to pay $ 99 in exchange for affordable rates?
And how will it keep the promise of the best online price?
We hope to find out soon.