OnlineBookngEngine

Choosing a TripAdvisor Connect Internet Booking Engine

OnlineBookngEngine

A typical Booking Engine

A prerequisite to launching a TripAdvisor Connect campaign is having an approved TripAdvisor Connect Internet Booking Engine (IBE) on your lodging property’s website. An Internet Booking Engine (IBE) allows your guests to review room and amenity details and browse availability. After they have made a choice, they are able to book directly on your site’s secure booking engine using a major credit card. This has become standard protocol in today’s online travel world, but there really is a lot more to getting a hotel functional online than just selecting an Internet Booking Engine.

Choosing only an Internet Booking Engine would be like buying only one tire for your car instead of a whole set. Not real far-sighted, right? From a hotel’s perspective, the Internet Booking Engine is just a portion of what is needed for successful online integration. A hotel or resort’s support structure should be designed to encompass all of your hotel’s goals, like an attractive, branded website, online credit card acceptance which includes PCI compliance, one or more OTA connections, and a cloud-based PMS that is mobile-optimized.

Eggs in one basketI would caution anyone from putting all of his or her eggs in the TripAdvisor basket or only one marketing partner’s basket for that matter. In these turbulent times, it’s important for properties to have long-term, multi-level plans that can easily address local and niche opportunities and provide flexibility in partnering choices. All this can be accomplished by making the right PMS choice and working outward from there.

TripAdvisor has partnered with quite a few companies that offer Internet Booking Engines to their customers. The list changes daily and can be found at TripAdvisor’s Partner Page.

TripAdvisor has 3 levels of integration from their IBE providers.

Premium Partners will include

    1. The TripConnect CPC program
    2. Review Express- which automatically sends review requests to departing guests
    3. ROI tracking- which provides Property-level tracking on the confirmation page for each hotel booking through TripAdvisor.

Plus Partners will have:

    1. The TripConnect CPC program
    2. Review Express- which automatically sends review requests to departing guests

Partners offer only the TripConnect CPC program.

Find the right PMS

Separating the wheat from the chaff is the difficult part. As you can tell by the enormous TripAdvisor Connect Partner list, finding a PMS company with an approved IBE that provides what you need for an affordable price is not an easy task. If you choose to go it alone, I suggest using Capterra’s exhaustive list as a starting point. First, select the features that are important to you and narrow your search with their filters. Choose a few and compare your needs and the user reviews. After you have a few selected, you might want to set up a demo with a sales person and have a conversation on pricing. Include the pricing of all needed interfaces in your estimate. Two interfaces you will most likely want would be a credit card merchant account with PCI compliance and a credit card gateway. These price out separately and present their own complete shopping comparison challenge. Be sure to collect a complete scenario. Use both your ‘must have’ and your ‘wish list’ and price them out. Things can change quickly in today’s turbulent marketing world and is why I recommend including your ‘wish list’ into this process. It’s important to keep your plan flexible by positioning yourself for the future and unseen contingencies.

Watch out for transaction fees and double hits

We found that some PMS companies are charging up to 3x more by use of small transaction fees placed on high-volume tasks. I call them double hits. You pay the OTA or channel partner their fees, plus you will pay the PMS company again -each time, for every transaction. I think, it’s pretty sneaky. Not all PMS companies do this. These fees really add up and can take a huge chunk out of your sales. Instead look for PMS companies that charge for set-up with a small monthly support fee for each connection. That will keep your costs under control no matter how many bookings you have each month. Or give us a call today and we’ll help you through it!

Focus on the details

I also recommend evaluating PMS systems based on the following factors: how long have they been in business? (a good system takes years to develop) where is support located? language spoken? fluency? their support hours -including weekends? their response commitment? ability to export data out to a ‘flat’ file (is it usable, or broken into several lines and columns for each reservation?), report features (does it export to a .csv file?), can you follow each transaction right into the bank? how many ‘clicks’ does it take to report on commonly-used info? Will both, the guests and staff, be able to access all parts of the site from mobile phones and tablets? What will it look like and how will it function?

Before you switch providers, ask your current provider of their plans for TripAdvisor Connect. There is a lot happening and things are changing daily. Don’t jump ship just because your provider isn’t on the list. Ask them their opinion of this new tool, they are one of your technology partners.

Finding this all too daunting of a task? Give us a call today!  Our experience and passion is in working with small independent hotels and lodging properties in North America. We operate from the hotel’s perspective, one that is customized to your unique situations. We don’t try to ‘sell’ you everything that is available online, but try to keep it lean and affordable. We don’t talk about what should be done, we help get it done.

Next week, we will look into other promotional options beyond TripAdvisor Connect. It’s always good to have other choices. This is part three of a four-part series, if you missed our other articles then you might want to check out Rolling Out TripAdvisor Connect and A Likely TripAdvisor Connect Scenario.

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