TripAdvisor’s influence on travel booking continues to grow. Seventy-nine percent of customers say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 46% of travelers read online reviews before booking a hotel. TripAdvisor’s influence is evident in its search position, as it appears on the first page of organic search results for 99% of unbranded search terms. The site also owns 7% of all organic real estate in brand term searches, significant considering the dominance of brand sites in search.
Select brands have recognized working with TripAdvisor as inevitable. Marriott, for example, has made its rooms available on TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking platform. While Marriott does pay a commission for rooms booked on the third-party site, the partnership gives it ammunition against OTAs and makes up for the brand’s low visibility on the booking site. (Marriott consistently resides in the bottom quartile of brands in L2’s Luxury Hotels study.) The partnership enables browsers on TripAdvisor to seamlessly book Marriott rooms without leaving the site.
But success on TripAdvisor also requires a strategy for visibility, which can be improved by using high-trafficked keywords in description, investing in property page content, and decreasing the response time to guest reviews. Yet, few brands are following these straightforward procedures. Just half (53%) respond to guest reviews on TripAdvisor and take on average a week to respond. The result is weak visibility for U.S. brands overall; just 55% of Index brands with a U.S. footprint appear in the first page of results in searches for the five key markets. New York and Miami are exceptionally weak, with only 20% of brands securing a first-page listing.