TripAdvisor next year plans to introduce summaries of a hotel’s reviews – a way to provide a quick highlight of the gestalt of the property and its amenities – as a means for consumers to avoid having to wade through hundreds, even thousands of user critiques about a single hotel.
That news came from TripAdvisor president and CEO Stephen Kaufer as PhoCusWright president and CEO Philip Wolf conducted an “executive interview” with him on center stage on the final day of the PhoCusWright conference in Orlando.
Kaufer noted that the Bellagio, for instance, has some 3,100 reviews on TripAdvisor, a daunting read for consumers interested in the hotel.
Once the summaries are in place at some unspecified juncture next year, consumers might simply read a summary about a hotel or drill down further and sample as many reviews as they desire.
It’s a move to improve the user experience on TripAdvisor, and may make a hotel’s overall rating even more important because consumers would be able to get to the point about the hotel very quickly.
One of the most entertaining parts of the Kaufer-Wolf dialogue was when Wolf listed a bunch of online travel businesses and asked Kaufer which ones keep him awake at night.
Bing Travel? Not so much, Kaufer says.
Yahoo, not really.
Google, well, yeah.
Kaufer noted that perhaps 60% of travelers start their trip-planning searches on Google. He doesn’t think of Google as a trip-planning site, but he worries about any disruptive changes that Google could implement.
“Darn it, everyone starts at Google and I want them to start at TripAdvisor,” Kaufer said.
Wolf asked Kaufer why it took TripAdvisor all these years to allow hotels to post their direct links, a move that TripAdvisor announced it will begin in January in the form of Business Listings.
Kaufer said he has no good answer as to why it took so long.
In a separate interview later in the day, president and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, of parent company Expedia Inc, told me it took so long because TripAdvisor’s focus was on CPC and CPM advertising and not on subscription fees, which is how hotels would pay for business listings.
“In hindsight, it’s obvious”, TripAdvisor should have done it earlier, Khosrowshahi said.
In other areas, Kaufer said TripAdvisor’s biggest challenge in flight metasearch is that the company is known for hotel reviews.
Some of his friends, he said, don’t know that TripAdvisor introduced flight metasearch early this year.
Kaufer also spoke a bit about the launch of TripAdvisor in the form of Daodao in China.
[NB: More analysis on this from Tnooz China Node Charlie Li]
He said when TripAdvisor launches in a new market, initially it seeds that country’s website with translations of pre-existing reviews.
Kaufer send the number of Chinese-written reviews on Daodao.com, which follows the pattern of launches in other countries.
He said Chinese consumers are very active in online forums, and he sees no cultural reason why Chinese travelers would not write lots of hotel reviews.
So, regarding the launch of TripAdvisor in China, that chapter of the TripAdvisor global expansion story remains to be written.