What’s Really Happening at TripAdvisor? 3 Questions We Can’t Answer…
Since the beginning of 2018, we have been noticing some very odd behavior from the TripAdvisor results, customer service response time, sales rep strategies, and overall communication. What is most odd is that we have found communication from TripAdvisor to us, our clients, and industry partners has seriously degraded. This leads us to starting asking some pretty conspiratorial questions like, “Is TripAdvisor being bought out?” Aside from the far fetched questions, here are the specific odd happenings and questions we have.
Our biggest question, and one that will likely answer all our other questions, is why has TripAdvisor all but stopped responding to agencies and hotels alike? One thing we do know is TripAdvisor is famous for one of our favorite sayings, “always be testing” so it is no surprise that changes are always going to be coming… Though in this conspiracy theory article are the changes signifying something greater?
Question #1: Why Is TripAdvisor Using Sponsored Positions To Sell Business Listings?
We have been noticing something very odd in 2018 for several of our clients across the country. TripAdvisor has been approaching properties with hearty increases in their business listing costs. We have seen the performance of business listings steadily decrease over the years as TripAdvisor has driven more customer clicks through their successful TripConnect CPC and InstantBook programs, so this business listing decline in performance comes as no surprise. Given this decline in performance, it’s interesting, then, that they are trying to force hefy price hikes. However what is more interesting is that TripAdvisor reps are offering to allow businesses to keep their 2017 rates if they are willing to participate in Sponsored Positions.
Why is this an odd strategy for TripAdvisor? Because there is zero accountability for Sponsored Positions, as I detailed in a December post “TripAdvisor Sponsored Positions: Everything You Need To Know.” As an agency and steward of my clients budget I can’t in good conscience recommend anyone throw money at a marketing opportunity that offers no measurable return on investment. The only place I can see Sponsored positions being effective is for either quality new properties trying to get a foothold in a market, or properties who have improved their properties and working on regaining their positions.
We spoke with TripAdvisor and they did admit that there is practically no reporting available for Sponsored Positions and they did not have a timeline for reporting to become available. Will more reporting become available in the future? Will they hold the line as hotels push back against being forced into spending money with no accountability? I don’t know the answers just yet, but it does beg the question of why they would be pushing Sponsored Positions so aggressively when the platform is clearly not ready for prime time.