FREE TripAdvisor Business Listings
TripAdvisor founder Steve Kaufer announced the launch of “Business Listings” a year ago, so it seems appropriate to review and to see how they have got on since then. At the time Kaufer said:
“Many hotels, inns and B&Bs already recognize TripAdvisor as a major source of referrals and new business, but until now, there was no way for them to link from the TripAdvisor site to their own.
TripAdvisor Business Listings will allow property owners to connect to customers more efficiently and likewise for travellers ready to book.”
At the business listing launch, TripAdvisor said the regular price for adding contact details to a property listing would be $600/£360/€400 for properties with 10 rooms or less — meaning most B&Bs. The cynics asked why TripAdvisor was charging so much for showing a website link (with zero SEO value) and a phone number when restaurants already got the same service for free.
As a “special launch offer“, TripAdvisor said that they would charge only half the regular price for properties that signed up in before the end of January 2010.
What no-one else realised was that the full price would never materialise in January 2010. Following a low uptake* in the period November through January (or “overwhelming demand” as TA called it), the 50% offer was extended.
*End Feb 4,000 hotels listed, or 0.8% of the 450,000 properties on TripAdvisor. By end May with extension of half-price offer, this swelled to 12 000 or 3%. No uptake figures have been released since.
Ever since then the “special offers” have continued, with property owners e-mailed at regular intervals urging them to sign up with offers of further discounts. Here are some examples of promotional emails sent out to the same owners between April and October this year – click images to enlarge:
Interestingly, the Lenox Hotel features prominently in the original mailout – that would be the same Lenox Hotel that was featured in Kaufer’s press release in November 2009: ““We are looking forward to participating with the new TripAdvisor Business Listings. … The Lenox Hotel is proud of the number one hotel ranking in Boston on TripAdvisor.”
Notice the Lenox is No.1 in Boston on TripAdvisor. Coincidentally, in a recent online article a TripAdvisor spokesperson tried to defend the allegation of poor ROI for a business listing by giving an example. The chosen example was the Bay Tree House B&B in London, which the spokesperson said had seen a 50% increase in contacts via TA. Guess what – the Bay Tree House just happens to be the No.1 B&B in London on TripAdvisor. Not exactly typical, then.
What TripAdvisor has NEVER revealed in its many articles, press releases or emails to prospective
mugs subscribers, is a useful measure of average ROI, such as the number of website referrals and emails generated by the AVERAGE business listing. Not just cherry-picking the “crème de la crème”.
Therein lies the rub – unless you are in the very top rank of the ratings on TripAdvisor, can you ever expect a decent return? Because if you aren’t at the top, then chances are no-one will see your listing on TripAdvisor and even if they do, who wants to stay at a place that doesn’t have top ranking?
Finally, can TripAdvisor really claim to be offering these listings at a discount of anything from 30% to 50% when no-one has ever paid the full price? It will be interesting to see the reaction of owners who paid the heavily discounted prices in 2010 if they are asked to renew at the full price, especially if these so-called “special offers” continue for others.
Of course, it may never happen – in fact, TripAdvisor is now offering FREE listings if you sign up before end of November 2010 and opt for monthly payments.
Have you tried a TA listing? If you have, please let us know whether it has worked for you, how it compared with other media, and whether your total business has increased directly as a result.
I’ve activated the free trial today but still no details appear!
I’ll let you know what happens!