TripAdvisor expects to accelerate the global roll-out of its new Instant Booking platform following the recent signing of a major content deal with The Priceline Group.
Earlier this month it was announced that Priceline will start supplying its hotel content to TripAdvisor Instant Booking, which enables users to make bookings from hotels and OTAs without leaving the TripAdvisor site.
And speaking to Travel Daily at ITB Asia on Thursday, TripAdvisor’s vice president of global sales & operations, Brian Schmidt, said he believes this agreement will trigger an accelerated global roll-out of the platform.
“We launched in the US [in 2014] and we consciously took a measured approach with it, rather than launching everywhere at once. We’re flexing muscles that are pretty new to TripAdvisor, like conversion. Previously we sent traffic off to our partners; now we need to convert it on-site. We wanted to experiment and get that right before we scaled it up,” Schmidt revealed.
He added that Instant Booking has evolved since it launched in the US, with tweaks to make it “simpler and more brand-friendly”, which have helped increase conversion rates.
“We’ve seen the product get stronger and with that we made the decision to launch into our second market, the UK (which launched in September 2015),” he added.
But the addition of Priceline’s content marks the biggest evolution of the Instant Booking tool to-date. Development work has already begun to support the integration of Booking.com’s hotels, with other brands including Priceline.com and Agoda.com expected to follow.
And Schmidt believes this huge influx of hotel content will enable TripAdvisor to accelerate the global roll-out of Instant Booking.
“The Priceline agreement is a significant step for us; not only because they’re a great partner for us… but what they offer is scale. They have hundreds and thousands of properties that we can automatically bring into the Instant Booking product.
“They also let us do that globally. They are a global brand; the content they have is all localised and translated, and so our product right away will be able to reflect that, which allows us to accelerate the roll-out. I think what once that goes live, you’ll see a faster roll-out globally,” Schmidt added.
While TripAdvisor has not placed a timescale on its Asian roll-out, Schmidt suggested that it was likely to start with English-speaking markets, such as Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, as they are an “easier transition”.
“I think you’ll see over 2016 a pretty rapid roll-out globally,” he added.
But adding content is one thing, and getting users to book is another. Schmidt revealed that a significant part of the Instant Booking roll-out process is educating TripAdvisor users that they can actually book direct from the hotel screen.
“[We need to train] our users to think of TripAdvisor as a site where they can plan, compare and book, not just the planning and comparing aspects,” he added.
But with Schmidt revealing that TripAdvisor is still “talking to everyone” about adding their hotel content to the Instant Booking platform, the amount of people using the world’s largest travel site to book travel, rather than just research it, is only likely to increase in future.