Trip Advisor’s sponsored ads

By | Category: Travel news

You can’t deny that TripAdvisor isn’t powerful in the travel industry. Virtually everyone you will ever speak to seems to have read a few reviews before deciding where to stay.

That it was so powerful is proven by attempts over the years to post bad reviews from rival hotels and good ones by owners themselves. What was once a website giving reviews by people who had stayed, at or visited then became a booking website rivalling things like hotels.com and booking.com.

Now the company is going one stage further and behaving like Google. Just as there are Google ads at the top of any searches you might make or ads on the right side of the pages you visit so TripAdvisor is going to run what it calls “Sponsored Placements.”

Pay a fee to TripAdvisor and your accommodation will be the first on the list for searchers to view. Don’t pay and your accommodation, attraction or restaurant might slide down to the list and off page one to pages three or four and who –apart from me –looks that deeply? Many people opt for something seen on the first page of a search.  

TripAdvisor already has a three-month test underway in which over 100,000 accommodation customers have already launched thousands of ad campaigns across more than 5,500 destinations. That just a test would involve 100,000 accommodation providers further demonstrates the prower TripAdvisor has become to the hospitality industry. Now searchers are going to have to be very aware that the choices they make may be channelled by commercial considerations rather than being based on reviews.

But will searchers be aware of they change? Will ads deter people from looking at alternative accommodation with better reviews. Since the theory of advertsing is to persuade people to buy something that they might not consider or know they need, how many people will think they are buying on the basis of multiple reviews only to find out that there was something more suited once you had got past the ads?

Some hoteliers say that TripAdvisor is their most important marketing tool so they will be strong advocates of the new marketing opportunity. But what of the searcher? What options will they have? Just as Google ads are marked yet often overlooked by the public will the same apply to TripAdvisor’s “Sponsored Placements?”

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