TripAdvisor continues to dominate the travel review game: in a little over a year, the company has effectively doubled the amount of offsite views their content receives on partner channels, going from 150 million monthly views in 2011 to over 300 million this month.
Over 500 companies currently integrate TripAdvisor content into their sites, including Kayak, Accor, Wyndham Hotel Group, Best Western and Thomas Cook, meaning that the partner sites provide TripAdvisor-branded reviews directly alongside their own content and inventory.
10% of these companies have also partnered with TripAdvisor to collect reviews via the Review Collection Services, highlighting just how important reviews are for many organizations.
Working directly with TripAdvisor to collect reviews also points to one of the underlying difficulties that hotels face: actually getting customers to post reviews after a stay.
Some customers will automatically review, but in order to get the most highly representative sample of a hotel's performance, the hotel must gather reviews from a larger cross-section of customers. Defaulting to a third-party such as TripAdvisor cedes a lot of control and relative peace-of-mind regarding 100% authenticity of user-posted reviews.
Altogether, with 300 million views monthly on partner sites, this is an impressive feat. TripAdvisor continues to be the elephant crushing the room, and is easily maintaining the dominant position in traveler reviews.
In a message to Tnooz, TripAdvisor VP of Global Partnerships Severine Philardeau talks further about the importance of this announcement in regards to the proliferation of online reviews:
"The benefits of displaying review are evident - as we highlighted in our milestone announcement, according to recent PhoCusWright research, 53 percent of respondents will not book a hotel that does not have any reviews on TripAdvisor.
For partners, integrating TripAdvisor content on their own websites not only means that they are offering visitors to their site a richer user experience, it also helps drive conversion since potential clients will find the information they need to make the right travel booking decision without leaving the partner's site."
At what point does it become inevitable that everyone is going to have to integrate reviews to become competitive?
Some would argue that this point has already been reached, as some larger brands have opted for their own review components rather than relying on a third-party like TripAdvisor.
For example, Starwood Hotels opted for their own branded review product last year, allowing them to tie reviews to actual reservations and thus eliminate one of the key factual complaints about TripAdvisor.
However, given the rapid traction that TripAdvisor widgets are seeing across partner channels, launching one's own guest review and rating system is a much harder sell. It's always a risk to reinvent the proverbial wheel, especially when so many travelers are already trusting the third-party crowd-sourced standard that is TripAdvisor.
For smaller, independent hotels, it makes sense to go with what's already working at scale. But will the desire to match reviews to guests who have actually stayed in a hotel trump all other cost, integration and reach considerations for larger brands?