TripAdvisor isn’t one of the most well-known travel websites in the world for nothing.
The travel giant is always optimising user-generated content, helping restaurants, hotels and vacation rental properties maintain their reputations, and acting as a fully-fledged booking supplier for consumers visiting the site.
For hoteliers, it’s just as important in driving direct bookings as Google or their own website.
And earlier this year TripAdvisor made an announcement putting it in the same advertising field as Google – with the launch of Sponsored Placements.
Here’s how this new element of Tripadvisor advertising works, what it means for hotels looking to drive traffic, and the latest updates.
What is TripAdvisor doing with Sponsored Placements?
Essentially following Google’s lead with hotel ads, TripAdvisor now allows paying hotels to appear in the top spot of a user’s search results, operating on a cost-per-click basis, and appear on all devices. With specific filtering and a highly targeted audience, clicks on these sponsored listings cost around $1 to $3, set to a monthly budget.
Until this offering, search results were dependent on an algorithm measuring the quality, quantity, and recency of reviews.
Some top-ranking hotels were ruffled by the idea that other properties could supersede their peerless reputation simply by paying money.
While it doesn’t guarantee bookings as the reviews will be the same, a hotel ranked last in its area can dramatically increase its traffic with a sponsored placement. By the same token, there’s the argument user trust could be eroded because the site is no longer solely grounded in unbiased reviews.
For destinations of high competition, it’s a very viable option for properties to improve their visibility. As TripAdvisor says, you might have an amazing property but because it’s in Paris, you’re on page two of results. Sponsored Placements helps give you leg up if you’re willing to assess the cost to advertise on Tripadvisor and commit the budget to it.
To be eligible for a listing there are certain requirements. Click here to see if your property fits the description.
How seriously should hotels take Sponsored Placements?
It’s recommended hotels do some careful research on their return-on-investment for sponsored placements.
It’s worth noting guests are still free to choose any of the promoted rates, special offers and channels to complete their booking – and the vast majority of these are online travel agents.
How many direct bookings is it likely to generate in comparison to sending the user off to an OTA listing for the property?
It’s likely to be a case-by-case situation, with some hotels still finding it useful if incremental bookings increase regardless of channel. Others may not see any value unless the majority of traffic is funnelled direct.
Tripadvisor’s advertising options could be something that is best used in short bursts to highlight deals and special promotions.
What are the latest updates to TripAdvisor Sponsored Placements?
The most recent updates from TripAdvisor were around launching new performance reporting, providing Sponsored Placements customers, such as hotels, with “valuable, actionable metrics” to help them drive business through ad campaigns.
The new reporting is reportedly showing that, on average, Sponsored Placements’ customers are seeing an uplift of 17% in unique visits to their TripAdvisor business listing.
Metrics included in the update are:
- Visibility into number of ad impressions
- Number of visits to a property’s TripAdvisor listing, including incremental traffic
- Booking referrals generated as a result of ads
- The percentage market share for a property in locations where their ads are showing
Some general tips to make your hotel’s TripAdvisor ads stronger
If you’re going to invest part of your marketing budget into a sponsored placement on TripAdvisor, it’s worth making sure your listing is as strong as possible.
Quickly check-off these simple tasks in TripAdvisor’s management centre:
- Update your main photo with a recent, high-quality picture
- Ensure all pictures and information for your amenities are up to date
- Highlight special deals or promotions that will be running during the time to launch your ad campaign
- Set a budget that’s based on clear objectives and priorities
- Stay competitive on pricing