TripAdvisor is embarking on what could become an unprecedented period of growth for the company in Asia Pacific.
With a new range of tools aimed at helping independent hotels and B&Bs compete with their larger chain-based rivals, TripAdvisor is tapping the deep well that is Asia’s hotel industry. And speaking with Travel Daily, the president of TripAdvisor for Business, Marc Charron, said that in terms of future potential, it has barely touched the surface.
“Only about 25% of the total properties in Asia are currently registered with the TripAdvisor Management Centre, which enables hoteliers to respond to their traveller reviews,” Charron told Travel Daily in an interview. “That’s just a tremendous opportunity for us to educate and get the word out.
“For Business Listings – and this may sound optimistic to you – but I really can’t think of a hotel that wouldn’t benefit from it. It’s your direct contact information – your phone, email, website address – on your listing page on TripAdvisor… It’s where [a hotel’s] reputation is being formed, where people are making decisions; and in some cases there’s a lot more demand on that page than there might be on their own website. So I really think of the Business Listing product… as kind of a no-brainer.”
At present, slightly more than one in 12 hotels (70,000 out of 890,000) listed on TripAdvisor worldwide have signed up to Business Listings. But Charron said he really could not see any limitations to the potential future growth.
“When I look at the 890,000 properties [listed on TripAdvisor] worldwide, I think it’s relevant to everyone. Clearly we’ve got a lot more to go to convince the greater share that have yet to buy. But it’s early days,” he said.
And much of this growth is likely to be among smaller, independent Asian hotels. Recently the company launched a new tool called ‘TripConnect Instant Booking’, which allows guests to book a hotel from their TripAdvisor page, without being redirected to the hotel’s website. And Charron believes this functionality will be especially popular with smaller hotels that have limited technological capabilities.
“We learned a lot in the past year about working with hoteliers; what it means to manage a campaign, to bid within an auction, to measure ROI and track traffic. It involves a lot of expertise and time that they don’t have. And for them to maintain that and remain competitive is very difficult when they’re trying to run their hotel,” explained Charron.
“On hearing that, we developed TripConnect Instant Booking. We allow travellers, instead of clicking off the site, to actually complete the reservation on TripAdvisor. [So hoteliers] don’t have to worry about the traffic converting on their site. With Instant Booking it converts on TripAdvisor, which is a real advantage.”
There are other advantages too, including the fact that hoteliers are charged on a commission basis, rather than per click, and that it offers a better experience for the fast-growing mobile channel.
“A ‘click-off’ from a site is not a good user experience on mobile, and certainly doesn’t convert well,” Charron explained.
And he added that he expects the solution to be “huge leap” forward for the smaller hotels at which it is directed. “My group is very focused on making this available to every hotel, every independent hotel, every B&B, and give them a chance to participate in a way that they haven’t been able to in other channels,” he said.
By using these hotel-friendly tools to penetrate this huge potential market, Charron believes that TripAdvisor for Business can make significant headway in Asia Pacific.
“[Asia Pacific] is currently the smallest of the regions [for Business Listings],” Charron admitted. “We’re still developing awareness in many markets. [But] market by market, we’ve seen places like Bali, Thailand – really big destination markets – adopt really quickly.
“While we’ve made a lot of headway in the last three to four years, we’ve not achieved nearly everything we want in the hotel sector. I’m happy where we are in terms of our penetration with Business Listings, I think TripConnect Instant Booking is going to be an instant no-brainer for any hotel looking at driving additional direct bookings.”
“I’m really optimistic and I look at where we are now as just the beginning,” he concluded.