Will TripAdvisor’s ‘book direct’ ploy change the game?

TripAdvisor has launched a ‘book direct’ button within its Sponsored Placements platform which it claims will boost profits for accommodation providers by enticing customers to bypass OTAs.

According to the Expedia-owned travel advisory, the prominent link has been introduced following consultation with owners and travellers on how they want the booking process refined.

TripAdvisor says a recent survey of users revealed nearly half of travellers (41 percent) would prefer to book directly with the hotel if given the opportunity. This correlates with operator comments advising competition for exposure with OTA platforms is one of the industry’s biggest booking challenges.

Martin Verdon-Roe, TripAdvisor’s vice president of B2B hotels, said: “We have launched this new direct booking tool based on feedback from owners, and it’s one of a number of things over the next several months we plan to offer hoteliers to better meet their needs.”

Sponsored Placements, first introduced by TripAdvisor in April last year, allow accom providers to pay for sponsored listings that appear above search results and on nearby properties’ listings.

With the new feature, those sponsored listings will now include a link directly to a hotel’s website. Previously, listings only linked through to an OTA.

“This is the first time [hoteliers] can now drive direct traffic as well as visibility of their properties on TripAdvisor,” said Verdon-Roe.

 “It’s very much an open marketplace for hoteliers to play in at a destination level to increase their visibility and allow them to increase their market share and hopefully see direct bookings.”

Depending on where customers click on the Sponsored Placements listing, they’ll be linked to the accommodation’s website, its TripAdvisor page or an OTA booking page.

Listings will only appear when a hotel has availability, which Verdon-Roe argues will help providers fill vacancies and manage their advertising budget.

Properties also have the option not to include a direct listing.

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