The New Face of Tripadvisor is still not Marketer Friendly

As you may have heard, Tripadvisor has rolled out a new design and user interface.  The basics are still there – it’s still probably the most popular travel-related website on the web – but the homepage is less cluttered now.  They intend to show the site as having clearer navigation and a more evident “path” through the site.  An email I received from Tripadvisor today contained this statement:

Check out the new site and see how we’re making it easier for you to plan the perfect trip!

I decided to take their advice and go check it out.

Tripadvisor Redesigns

  •    Click on the thumbnail to visit the website. 
    • I kind of like the subdued colors -but they’re almost too subdued.  It’s kind of boring to be honest. 

    • They’re still monetizing the site with TONS of sponsored ads.  This is a pet peeve of mine.  They wont let us BUY a link on the site from property listings to a clients’ website.  They prefer all bookings to go through Hotels.com and their other affiliates (they’re owned by Expedia.)  This doesn’t stop them from placing annoying Google ads everywhere.  On rare occasions I have been able to get my clients’ Google ads to show on the Tripadvisor site but not all the time – and there are no instructions anywhere that say – “Take these steps and your ads will show on Tripadvisor.”  Tripadvisor will not tell you how this is accomplished, Google will not tell you how – you just better be pretty lucky.  At the very least I think they should let us run a site targeted campaign on Tripadvisor – it can’t be that hard for them to put together on their end.

    A side thought to ponder:

    I wonder what the clickthrough and conversion rate would be on some good contextual linking vs. the AdSense model.  Yes there is the paid link debate, but if you’re buying a human-edited DIRECTORY listing that’s not even considered – think Yahoo Directory or a bed and breakfast directory like PillowsandPancakes.com.

    • They switched the “Other” category to “Specialty Lodging.”  Big deal – you still can’t submit anything other than apartment and condo complexes here.  What about vacation rental homes – what about the huge VRMs that can put hundreds or thousands of pages of content on Tripadvisor?  C’mon people – vacation rentals are the wave of the future – let your USERS review vacation rental companies here. 

    So I’ve ranted a bit about my annoyances with Tripadvisor – and even with those annoyances they can really be a valuable resource.  In the end, it is their site and they can do with it as they please – but in my opinion, embracing a large segment of the tourism population (I’m talking VRM’s) would go a long way towards building good karma in the industry. 

    As a strong advocate of online reputation management, I do suggest having a listing if you can, monitoring it diligently, and being involved in the Tripadvisor forum that is established for your region/city or state.  You can gain a good authoritative voice.

    I think Vacation Rental Managers are always going to have trouble (read: it’s impossible) getting listed on Tripadvisor – but don’t loose hope – I heard today about some new and exciting stuff coming very soon from the folks over at FlipKey that will make the Tripadvisor review model look a bit stale – that’s all I can say right now – but stay tuned to the Blizz Blog for more on that in Januray 2008.

    12 replies
    1. John
      John says:

      Owned by EXPEDIA. That might be the explanation for the new face of tripadvisor. EXPEDIA is really awful . They tried to scam me once (click on my name to read my case and hundreds more)

    2. John
      John says:

      Owned by EXPEDIA. That might be the explanation for the new face of tripadvisor. EXPEDIA is really awful . They tried to scam me once (click on my name to read my case and hundreds more)

    3. Erin Jones
      Erin Jones says:

      Carrie,

      Thanks for mentioning FlipKey -I am so excited to have a place to both read and write about Vacation Rental travel experiences! With the ever expanding Vacation Rental market becoming an increasingly more popular vacation choice for travelers I think that this will be a very valuable resource!

      As a longtime TripAdvisor fan, and a fan of staying in Vacation Rental properties when traveling, I have been eagerly awaiting an updated TripAdvisor Vacation Rental section. Although the forums in TripAdvisor are helpful for vacation rental, cruise ship, and camping travel enthusiasts, the lack of a formal reviewing structure for these markets has been frustrating.

    4. Erin Jones
      Erin Jones says:

      Carrie,

      Thanks for mentioning FlipKey -I am so excited to have a place to both read and write about Vacation Rental travel experiences! With the ever expanding Vacation Rental market becoming an increasingly more popular vacation choice for travelers I think that this will be a very valuable resource!

      As a longtime TripAdvisor fan, and a fan of staying in Vacation Rental properties when traveling, I have been eagerly awaiting an updated TripAdvisor Vacation Rental section. Although the forums in TripAdvisor are helpful for vacation rental, cruise ship, and camping travel enthusiasts, the lack of a formal reviewing structure for these markets has been frustrating.

    5. John Ellis
      John Ellis says:

      Carrie,

      You are right on with this post. There is no place on TripAdvisor.com for their non-family companies any more. Obviously, TripAdvisor.com has that right. It’s their site; they can do as they wish. However, when they alienate partners and advertisers, the customer suffers.

      We use to do very well within TripAdvisor. This meant vacation rental customers did very well too. However, there is no room for the vacation rental customer or advertiser on TripAdvisor.com.

      We eventually phased away from TripAdvisor.com, with no plan in the near future of going back.

      Nice job, keep the information coming.

      -John Ellis
      ResortQuest Vacation Rentals

    6. John Ellis
      John Ellis says:

      Carrie,

      You are right on with this post. There is no place on TripAdvisor.com for their non-family companies any more. Obviously, TripAdvisor.com has that right. It’s their site; they can do as they wish. However, when they alienate partners and advertisers, the customer suffers.

      We use to do very well within TripAdvisor. This meant vacation rental customers did very well too. However, there is no room for the vacation rental customer or advertiser on TripAdvisor.com.

      We eventually phased away from TripAdvisor.com, with no plan in the near future of going back.

      Nice job, keep the information coming.

      -John Ellis
      ResortQuest Vacation Rentals

    7. Simon
      Simon says:

      I agree, there’s no real place for vacation rentals on TripAdvisor, which is a shame as it’s a huge potential market…but not quite sure how it would work anyway – would you rate the rental management company or the home or villa you stayed in? I think TA works a lot better for hotels than rentals for this very reason, so maybe it’s the best way for them to approach it.

      I think that the TripAdvisor forums are a lot more useful than many of the reviews anyway, the whole social side of it makes a lot more sense. For instance, currently the top rated restaurant in Hilton Head, SC is The Sea Shack – which does have very good food, but is a real ‘quick/no-frills’ kind of place. If I really wanted to find the best fine dining place for instance, I’d be much better off asking someone in the forum than reading any of the reviews.

      And yes, the color-scheme is very dull!

    8. Simon
      Simon says:

      I agree, there’s no real place for vacation rentals on TripAdvisor, which is a shame as it’s a huge potential market…but not quite sure how it would work anyway – would you rate the rental management company or the home or villa you stayed in? I think TA works a lot better for hotels than rentals for this very reason, so maybe it’s the best way for them to approach it.

      I think that the TripAdvisor forums are a lot more useful than many of the reviews anyway, the whole social side of it makes a lot more sense. For instance, currently the top rated restaurant in Hilton Head, SC is The Sea Shack – which does have very good food, but is a real ‘quick/no-frills’ kind of place. If I really wanted to find the best fine dining place for instance, I’d be much better off asking someone in the forum than reading any of the reviews.

      And yes, the color-scheme is very dull!

    9. Host
      Host says:

      Simon,

      Thanks for the comment – I encourage you to try out Flipkey – it went live last week and will be a great resource for individual vacation home reviews – along with property management companies. I’ll have an interview in the Blizz Blog soon w/ TJ Mahoney – who is one of the founders.

      Thanks again,
      Carrie

    10. Host
      Host says:

      Simon,

      Thanks for the comment – I encourage you to try out Flipkey – it went live last week and will be a great resource for individual vacation home reviews – along with property management companies. I’ll have an interview in the Blizz Blog soon w/ TJ Mahoney – who is one of the founders.

      Thanks again,
      Carrie

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