Plan Ahead for TripAdvisor Connect

Director of SEO & Insights
Published 7/29/13
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Big changes are coming to the TripAdvisor Connect CPC (Cost-Per-Click) Program. Up until now, only the major brands, booking engines and OTAs have had the opportunity to bid on their placement within the Hotel Price Comparison results in a property’s listing. This month, TripAdvisor has announced that by Q4 2013 (rumor is as early as September) independent properties will now be able to participate in TripAdvisor Connect and bid for placement. A self-service interface will allow properties and/or their agencies to set per-click bid and budget caps.

What does this mean?

In your property’s TripAdvisor listing, the Hotel Price Comparison box displays real-time rates from various OTAs and booking sites. Your property can now join the bidding for visibility in this space as “Hotel Website.” The top three results are featured with a logo and prominent placement; the others show as text links beneath. This means TripAdvisor visitors who are already looking at your property’s listing will be able to see your real-time rates and link directly into your booking engine.

What are the rules?

  • Your property must be registered and verified on TripAdvisor.
  • You must have an active Business Listings subscription.
  • Your site must offer reservations via a certified Internet Booking Engine (you can expect the major players in the industry to be on this list. 14 are confirmed to date).
  • You bid only for placement on your own property’s listing (you can’t bid on competitors).

How do you budget for this new opportunity for 2014?

As with search engine CPC advertising, he-who-bids-highest gets top placement. The top three featured slots receive exponentially more clicks than the text links below. TripAdvisor has indicated that, while there is no minimum monthly spend to participate, CPCs will be set by the marketplace. The more popular your geographic market and your property within the market, the higher the CPC you can expect. Early indicators are $2-$3 per click, but remain to be seen.

Much like on Google, independent properties are up against the deep pockets of the OTAs with TripAdvisor Connect. If you have been watching your costs on Google over the last 15 months, then you know that this competition has driven up CPCs as much as 3x on your brand name. While on Google, you site’s Quality Score on your brand name tends to keep you in one of the top spots, no such “quality” mechanism will exist on TripAdvisor. One of the major unknowns of this program is how aggressively the OTAs will bid to keep independent properties (who quite likely will be displaying the lowest available rate) out of the top three positions.

The good news is that, even in this competitive market, it is likely the ROI will be worth the investment. TripAdvisor Connect will drive highly qualified traffic directly into your property booking engine and will include ROI reporting, provided your property is using a Premium Certified booking engine. According to TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer, while the quantity of clicks is lower, conversions via Hotel Price Comparison CPC are “multiples” higher than on the pre-metasearch version of Connect.

Key Takeaways

  • Check out TripAdvisor’s FAQ on Connect
  • Dig around your budget and find some end-of-the-year dollars to try Connect when it becomes available this year. This will provide some good early indications of what costs you should plan on for 2014 and the ROI potential.