What does TripAdvisor’s move to social mean for hoteliers?

If you’ve been living under a rock this past week or two you might have just missed TripAdvisor’s unveiling of its new site and mobile experience. The debut of Travel Feed, which will roll out later this year, is more or less TripAdvisor’s move into the social media world – These days, there’s a social media app for everything, the world has become more social, so naturally, TripAdvisor has made one for travel.

The proposed new website/app proposes to be the most personalized and connected travel community, that will inspire and empower individuals with ‘social assistive tools’ to plan and book better with relevant advice and information from friends and experts they trust. Users will no longer use the original platform for completing tasks such as finding a hotel but instead users can follow social recommendations from friends, influencers, bloggers and publishers to not only plan their own trips, but users will now also be able to book hotels, make dining reservations, sign up for tours and activities on the site or through the app. Not only that but during a trip, users’ personalized travel feed will notify them when they pass by a restaurant or point of interest that one of their friends has reviewed on TripAdvisor. And of course, users can also leave their own tips and reviews, post-trip.

As Skift put it, basically, TripAdvisor are “… trying to enmesh itself in everything from travel inspiration to booking, both pre-trip and during the journey, as well as storytelling Snapchat- and Instagram-style“.  

It sounds exciting but will it be successful? Many travel brands — particularly social travel start-ups — have tried and failed to become the Facebook of travel. And there are already many for and against arguments over TripAdvisor’s redesign. One on hand, while the idea makes sense, it remains to be seen how successful TripAdvisor will be in convincing its global users that there’s a need for them to create yet another social media profile on top of their Facebook, Instagram, and other social media accounts. But on the other hand, with the new Travel Feed, everything will now be in one convenient location – no more Googling 10 different websites when planning and booking travel, and, more importantly, it will be personalized.

Not only that but compared to other travel start-ups, TripAdvisor is not exactly starting from scratch; it averages 456 million unique visitors a month and it’s new Travel Feed already touts 500 (well-known and already influential) partners who are currently using the beta version and diligently creating hundreds of pieces of inspiring and helpful travel content prior to the end of year launch date.

So will users more time engaging on a social site that is only dedicated to travel or will they simply fall back on the familiar? Time will only tell.

What does it mean for hoteliers? If hoteliers hadn’t enough to worry about, this is probably another new social site that they will need to get familiar with – it will also more than likely mean that you need to revisit your  current marketing plan and focus on branding, as the new platform will combine the feed design, similar to Twitter, the social experience of friends, similar to Facebook i.e. TripAdvisor’s Travel Feed will put friend’s likes and suggestions up front – so if you are not active and miss out on those all-important “likes” you’ll more than like not feature near the top!

But it’s not all doom and gloom, the new platform does offer businesses the opportunity to use the travel feed to reach new and potential customers in real time. For instance, “a restaurant general manager could write a post to entice visitors nearby to go to his/her restaurants with a 10% off offer…” Elliot Cohen, TripAdvisor’s VP of product.

The project is still in beta, so when you get it, take the time to read up on the changes coming down the line and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

In summary, TripAdvisor believes this redesign is significant for the company’s future. But as for the critics, the jury is still out on the benefit. In the meantime, if you haven’t already seen it, why not check out the pre-launch video. (can you embed this?)

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