Tripadvisor, Friend or Foe to BandBs AND to BandB Directories

With the recent announcement that Tripadvisor is going to be offering a paid listing option, one wonders long term about the future of whether already financially cash strapped bed and breakfasts are going to pay the fees to be listed.

While I think most hotels will consider this a slight drop in the budget and will just add it in to their normal operational overhead, I think many bed and breakfast will be stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

Many B&B’s list their properties already on the two major B&B directories here in the states, and, between the two averaging around $500 plus per year in listing fees, plus many bed and breakfasts pay an additional average of twice that to be listed on many of the smaller directories cumulatively.

How is a bed and breakfast with only 3 rooms for example expected to pay the fees that TA is proposing?

With the economy still a mess and lodging and tourism trends still down, many inns may wish to be listed but for financial reasons will not be able to do so.

For B&Bs that have never had or have had few reviews posted, listing on Tripadvisor may be a moot point.

But what is the case of a B&B for example like The George Washington Inn’s listing on the site,  which reads like every B&B’s wet dream, and doesn’t do too shabbily on Tripadvisor’s listing either, reviews go a long way for their bread and butter. Where they are getting primary traffic from is a question that they will have to answer in the coming months.

The other questions that spring to mind are the impartiality of the future paid listings.

Tripadvisor is currently  judged an impartial source. Once they start charging for listings the view by the general public that properties are paying for listings perhaps becomes skewed.

As a consumer, I will have a hard time looking at TA listings in the future and wondering if there is some sort of favoritism going on with the paid listings. While I strongly doubt this will happen, the fact remains that I will probably wonder about it, and as a result, would view another review site instead, to make sure they were completely impartial, or would return to a regular bed and breakfast directory to find lodging.

The long term result of this may also be that Tripadvisor turns into major competition for the primary Bed and Breakfast directories. This could have both positive and negative aspects.

Will B&Bs find its worth it to jump ship from the major directories and pay the fee to Tripadvisor instead? In the small budgets most B&Bs have, this is going to be a whopper of a decision.

Will B&B directories, if they find membership bailing out to Tripadvisor, have to give added incentives and price breaks to B&Bs to retain membership? Only time will tell.

I would hope that Tripadvisor would take a careful look at the fee options. Listing by room and property size would be a much more rational (and affordable) option for most bed and breakfasts.

From a marketing standpoint do you make more money having 10 bed and breakfasts listed for $600 each or having 600 bed and breakfasts listed at $100 each (which is a much more affordable option for cash strapped bed and breakfasts)?  You do the math.

If you are an inn or bed and breakfast, please take our Tripadvisor survey. It will run until Thanksgiving and results will be published the following week:


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4 Responses to Tripadvisor, Friend or Foe to BandBs AND to BandB Directories

  1. Mark says:

    The idea of a TripAdvisor is a reasonable one in theory but in practice it allows a single guest who comes one time to be a tyrant. And sometimes, it takes months to get a reply published from the victim of this bad guest.

    Also, critics do not have to substantiate claims, so ex-employees and other malcontents can take their frustrations out on their ex-employers. TripAdvisor is worth the review it gives each of the reviews that they publish and they give no review at all and require no validation of the critic.

    All critics are anonymous and can say anything they want while hotels are forced to identify themselves. Plus, anyone can say that a review was helpful even if they never act on that information.

    So, in the end, I do not use TripAdvisor nor would I recommend it. It’s useless and harmful.

  2. To me it shows how the current model by the ota’s of charging ridiculously high commissions to hotel owners are very much numbered, customers are getting wiser and booking direct more & more.
    We run a b&b in Venice and advertise in the cheaper tourist directories or even some free ones like

  3. David Wood says:

    In the UK we have a store (John Lewis) who`s slogan is “Never knowingly undersold.” How is it that so many accommodation providers have got themselves into such a mess. They offer their best prices to those they hope will be their loyal customers through intermediaries who drive a hard bargain on rates and take an extra 20% for the service from the Host? The best price should be on your web site – book direct and get the best deal in town!

    Spend money on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and market through local linkages.

    I am really sorry that TripAdvisor is going to become irrelivent as it looses it`s position as the place that knows best, to become the place that sells out to the highest payer. They used to provide valuable free information and feedback from real customers.

    Most B & Bs can substancially improve their B&B review ranking in their area with a couple of carefully contrived, “Paid For” reviews – it is so much cheaper than paying for the link! (3 nights for the cost of 2, if you write your review before you leave).

  4. Monica says:

    It may be that the traveling public will wonder about paid listings on TA, but will they know who has a paid listing vs who does not?

    Presently, any hotel or B&B on GDS gets links to their own info. Any B&B that cannot afford to be on GDS, or that has had problems with it in the past can look at this new link as a cheap way to play with the big boys. I can pay a flat fee and not have to pay 30% every time someone books thru TA. More likely the hotels will clamor for the same privilege.

    Why would a guest even know that the reason they now see info for B&B’s where they only used to see info for hotels means that someone is paying for the privilege?

    Most guests do not realize we pay to be on the big directories. They think it’s free, like the phone book. Anyone who does not have a business does not realize the phone book is not free for business listings.

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