Tag Archives: business listing

Business Listings on TripAdvisor – What is the Real Cost?

According to a study commissioned by TripAdvisor, hotels with a “Business Listing” are paying TripAdvisor on average 10 dollars out of every 60 dollars they take in bookings.

Hotels that pay TripAdvisor a Business Listing  get their direct contact information added to their standard TripAdvisor listing and can display “special offers” for TA users.  Hotels pay several hundred or thousands of  dollars each year for this service, depending on the size of the hotel.  In the UK Business Listings currently cost anything from £225 for properties with less than 5 rooms to £6,500 for large hotels with 500 rooms.

TripAdvisor commissioned Forrester Research Inc., a research company based in Cambridge Massachussets, to analyse the return on investment (ROI) to hotels of this form of advertising on the TripAdvisor website. In conducting its study, Forrester looked at hotels that belong to the Sabre Hospitality Solutions network, a marketing company for the hotel industry that has actively promoted the use of TripAdvisor business listings among its clientele.

According to Forrester Research, Sabre hotel clients are receiving an average of only $6 dollars in incremental bookings for every dollar spent on TripAdvisor busines listing subscription fees.

Putting a brave face on these disappointing results, Amanda Webb, director of online advertising and media for Sabre Hospitality Solutions said “We are encouraging our clients to renew their TripAdvisor Business Listings subscriptions, as many of our participating hotels have seen excellent results. The hotels we represent that utilize RezTrack(R) to measure results averaged six dollars in incremental bookings for every dollar spent on Business Listings, and some hotels are even seeing $20 for every dollar spent” .

Unsaid is the fact that many other clients must be getting a lot less than six dollars for every dollar spent.

“Sabre Hospitality has done a great job identifying new online marketing opportunities for its clients, including TripAdvisor Business Listings, which has generated remarkable results, as the Forrester study reveals,” said Christine Petersen, president TripAdvisor for Business. “We look forward to a strong and ongoing relationship with Sabre and its clients.”



TripAdvisor Business Listings – “now we’re giving them away!”

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:

Nov 2009

April 2010

Oct 2010

Nov 2010

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!

TripAdvisor Business Listing Links

The main benefit of a Business Listing on TripAdvisor is the addition of contact details – telephone, website and email.

TripAdvisor Business Listing

TripAdvisor Business Listing

I’ve mentioned before, in passing, how the Business Listing links have no SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) value as they are written in javascript, effectively a “nofollow” as far as search engines are concerned.  Consequently, the TA Business Listing link won’t help the owner in question on search engine results.

TripAdvisor Business Link Has No SEO Value

TripAdvisor Business Link Has No SEO Value

Recently Tnooz interviewed Steve Kaufer (top dog at TripAdvisor) and posed him the obvious question regarding the Business Listing links on TripAdvisor – why the “nofollow”?

S Kaufer

S Kaufer

“We really don’t want to ever be accused by Google or anyone else of offering a service that could be construed as buying a link,” says Kaufer, sitting in a conference room at TripAdvisor headquarters in Newton, Mass.

“It’s not going to hurt anyone else’s SEO ranking,” he points out. “It just doesn’t help it. And we never ever imply if you buy a link you’ll do better in search results. It’s irrelevant.”

Steve Kaufer, TripAdvisor CEO

This is a poor defence. Owners and travellers alike have been saying for ages that ALL properties listed on TA should have proper contact details, like phone, email and a link to a website.  After all, if TripAdvisor is going to make money out of publishing reviews that feed their other business ventures, the least they can do is give the same properties a decent chance of being found by the poor sap (sorry, TripAdvisor user) who likes the look of a place and wants to contact them.

As the first Tnooz comment by Stuart said:

The whole “We’re wary of being called on paid links” defence is hogwash. Sure that is a valid concern if the link to the property is a part of their paid for business listing thing, but that is why the link should have been there from the get go as a part of a standard free listing.

The original, and still the main, purpose of “nofollow” was to prevent spammers filling blogs with links to their sites via the comments sections. Most blogs now have “nofollow” automatically to protect against this. Here’s Matt Cutts of Google on “nofollow” http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/quick-comment-on-nofollow/

More recently, Google has said it disapproves of purchased links.  But many reputable paid listings sites include regular website links and aren’t penalised.

For example, the long established site http://www.skiaustria.com has hard links to the hotels who advertise there. See here: http://www.skiaustria.com/kitzbuel/hotels/tennerhof/index.htm

The link to the hotel Tennerhof is hard AND the page carrying link has PR2 on Google, so no penalties there.  But lots of benefit for the owner of the hotel and his website – a decent link far from “irrelevant” as Kaufer claims.

On the other hand, TripAdvisor cunningly encourages accommodation owners to use its “widgets”  – without coming clean and admitting they are stuffed with valuable, keyword rich inbound links to TA.  In fact, TripAdvisor disable its so-called “free” widgets (using a javascript check) if they are altered by the addition of a “nofollow”.

Clearly, TA want other sites to link in to them so they hide keyword rich links in their widgets without telling anybody. But they aren’t happy to link out.  All this one way link traffic is good for them but bad news for the hotel/b&b owner websites they feed off.

Business Listings on TripAdvisor

Travel review site TripAdvisor has just announced that 4,000 of the hotels on its website have taken up its offer of a Business Listing since its launch in October 2009.  A Business Listing entitles hoteliers and B&B owners to add information such as website links and contact details to their property listing on TripAdvisor.

Business Listing on TripAdvisor

Business Listing on TripAdvisor

Without a Business Listing, for which the owner has to pay a fee, users of TripAdvisor have to fish around on Google or Bing (other search engines are available) in order to track down a hotel they’ve seen on the review site.  The exception to this is if it happens to be a hotel listed on one of TA’s own hotel booking sites, such as Expedia or hotel.com, where the company takes a booking fee.  In those cases people can click through to book directly on TripAdvisor.

4,000 hotels amounts to about 0.8% of the 450,000 properties on TripAdvisor.  TripAdvisor’s Business Listing service met with mixed reviews when it launched so critics of the scheme may be encouraged to see that it has not been more widely adopted by hoteliers, despite TripAdvisor’s half-price Business Listing offer when it launched.  The half price offer was initially offered until the end of 2009, with full prices due to come in on January 1st 2010, but this deadline was extended and continuing heavy discounts are available on the claimed “regular” price.  At present a 30% discount is being offered, perhaps due to the disappointing uptake.

TripAdvisor recently unveiled a similar service to Business Listings aimed at tourist organisations.  It has not revealed how many have taken up that offer.