TripAdvisor is pushing for developing its “key product focus 2014”, namely offering an in-app booking option for the TripAdvisor mobile app. This would enable consumers to carry out hotel bookings straight in the app without having to navigate to a different site. However, the company might face some resistance, especially from larger OTAs that are keen on getting referrals from TripAdvisor and converting customers on their own platforms, to drive app downloads or other activities (Skift).
OPPORTUNITY FOR HOTELS
The in-app booking function would be an assisted booking, where the traveller completes the reservation on their sites or apps, although an OTA in the background carries out the booking and and handles all customer communication and enquiries. On mobiles many customers are lost during the process, as they need to jump between different applications, in order to check reviews and carry out the booking. That is why enabling a booking option within the TripAdvisor mobile application would help hotels in increasing the look-to-book ratio considerably.
FOLLOWING META SEARCH SITES
This is a development that can also be seen in recently in major meta search engines. Websites such as Kaya or Room77, increasingly offer assisted bookings, where the booking is completed on the site or app. Although it might appear to the customer that s/he is booking through the search engine, it is handled by a partner company. This might pose a challenge to TripAdvisor, as it increases the difficulty to find a suitable partner. However, given the importance of TripAdvisor as a marketing drive for the entire tourism value chain, it is almost impossible to imagine that TripAdvisor won’t find a partner for its assisted bookings.
The solution is planned to be implemented this year, and it will certainly change the dynamics in mobile booking. On the one side it will facilitate the decision making of consumers, and thereby it has the potential to increase the trust in mobile as booking channel. On the other hand it increase the importance of TripAdvisor even further, and position the service sa one stop shop for mobile travel.
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