Many hotels on TripAdvisor have long felt ripped off because reviews of their properties make TripAdvisor and its advertisers -- often competitors of the hotel -- big bucks, but there are no direct links or contact information for the property itself.
TripAdvisor announced today that the policy will change on all its global websites beginning Jan. 4, 2010.
At that time, hotels on TripAdvisor will have the option to pay a flat-fee annual subscription for TripAdvisor Business Listings and will be able to display their properties' URL, telephone number and e-mail address.
The business listing -- i.e. advertising rate -- starts at $600 per year in the U.S., and varies by the properties' number of rooms. Early adopters can lock in a 50% discount if they sign on before Jan. 31, 2010. Hotels, from chains to inns and B&Bs, can purchase subscriptions here.
TripAdvisor states that the direct contact information will appear "at the top of your hotel page under your property address and above the Check Rates box. They will appear above the fold."
This program is a big deal for many of the 75,000 properties -- especially ones that found the companies' advertising rates way too expensive -- that have registered as owners on TripAdvisor websites.
Today, a listing for the Radisson Hotel Orlando-Lake Buena Vista on TripAdvisor.com gives consumers plenty of options to a book a room there through Expedia, Booking.com, Orbitz, Travelocity and TripRes.com, but there is no way through TripAdvisor to book the Radisson direct through links or a phone number.
So, hotels will be able to take advantage of these new direct links if the pricing isn't prohibitive.
The value proposition for hotels will all be in the details and how the implementation works out.
Many hotels, especially the smaller properties, have lobbied for this type of program for a long time.
With the tens of thousands of hotels displayed on TripAdvisor, Business Listings could be a significant new revenue stream for the company, which is a unit of Expedia Inc.
It will be interesting to watch the reaction of TripAdvisor's existing advertisers to the new program because Business Listings potentially can make their advertisements less effective.
TripAdvisor assuredly has run the numbers and certainly believes that Business Listings won't be overly dilutive to its existing advertising programs.
You can rest assured of that.