TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking feature works similarly to the Book on Google product. Much like the cost-per-click model employed by search engines, hotels bid to be in the top results so their logo and website are linked to the TripAdvisor profile. However, some hotels offer inventory via TripAdvisor through the Instant Booking feature. In the screen shot below, you can see that one of the top results for the Omni Los Angeles at California Plaza is a TripAdvisor result.
Since many guests referred from one site to another bounce off the new site, Instant Booking decreases the likelihood of losing guests as they click onto your website. Guests are also familiar with the review and meta-search site and therefore trust it, much like they trust Google. Therefore, guests are more willing to share personal information such as credit card info with a trusted site like TripAdvisor than with a site they have never before visited.
One big differentiator between TripAdvisor Instant Booking and Book on Google is that the hotels only owe a commission to TripAdvisor if the guest actually books via the “Book Now” button under the TripAdvisor Instant Booking Listing. This is a cost-per-action method rather than a cost-per-click.
Once a guest clicks “Book Now,” they are taken to a page on TripAdvisor’s website that is branded similarly to the meta-search pages guests are familiar with. This is where guests fill in their personal information. The familiarity with TripAdvisor provides guests with a sense of security that is missing when they are referred to a different site.
However, the credit card processing is actually done by 3rd parties. This can be seen in the following screenshot where TripAdvisor alerts guests that the company itself is not processing the credit card payments.
This notice also alerts guests that TripAdvisor is not responsible for customer service. Unlike when guests book via OTAs, TripAdvisor Instant Booking provides the hotel with the booking information immediately. Therefore, the hotel is the first point of contact for guests who have an issue, not TripAdvisor.
The future of Instant Booking is bright; CEO Stephen Kaufer expects more hotel chains to join the program. When the Priceline Group announced they would begin participating in the program in October 2015, it was a huge win for TripAdvisor. Rumblings of Expedia joining the program have been heard, but so far, the OTA giant has yet to participate in Instant Booking.
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