Freetobook is TripConnect Instant Booking’s First Approved Partner – Worldwide first in technology.
Press release (September 15 2014 – Glasgow)
Freetobook, one of the UK’s leading travel technology companies, announced today that it is the first Internet Booking Engine to be a fully approved and certified partner for the upcoming TripConnect instant booking feature from TripAdvisor.
TripConnect instant booking is being developed to increase direct bookings for independent hotels and scheduled to launch officially later this year. This instant booking will enable accommodation owners worldwide to leverage approved connectivity partners, such as Freetobook, to update rates and availability and take bookings directly into their online diary.
The TripConnect instant booking API has been approved and tested and Freetobook will enrol a select few customers in a live beta test ahead of the full launch when the feature will be available to the global independent hotel sector.
“Its exciting to be at the forefront of this new development. We are looking forward to getting our customers’ feedback in the first instance before TripConnect instant booking is rolled out globally,” says freetobook’s Director Iain Stewart. “
Other blogs and links about freetobook TripAdvisor connection
TripAdvisor research* finds that accommodation owners that respond to their reviews benefit with more booking enquiries, they say 21% more likely.
Ever been an ignored customer at a coffee bar or restaurant, seen but just not important enough to respond to? Well that’s how it looks when a customer reads your reviews and finds no responses. They have to assume you don’t care as much as the properties that do take the time to respond.
Perhaps you are extremely busy or don’t need the bookings, so just like the coffee bar, ignored customers will go and find somewhere they believe does care. According to TripAdvisor’s research it’s exactly what happens, they say up to 21% more bookings go to properties that take the time to respond.
When you do answer reviews (both the good and bad) it *shows* …..bang ! right there and then in front of them – this accommodation is engaged, caring, listening. Displaying this level of engagement is of course
quite different from just *saying* it on your website or in emails. If you really want customers to believe it then you have to find ways of *showing* it. The ability to respond to reviews is a marketing gift so use it to show how engaged you are.
You might not love TripAdvisor but can you afford to ignore them ? They undoubtedly have a vested interest in getting you, the property owner, to engage with their site (respond to reviews) but even with this in mind we still agree that reviews count.
At freetobook we have been developing review and feedback technology for years, you can already tweet, facebook or place your freetobook reviews on your website and of course you can respond to them. Our customers can make full use of these and many more functions in their “Home” tab by clicking “Reviews” on the orange bar. If you are not yet a customer, what are you waiting for? Join up today for free, no risk and let us show you what you are missing at freetobook.
Isn’t it great to get fantastic reviews! You work so hard looking after your customers, naturally they give you fabulous feedback that influences potential future guests. To find your reviews in freetobook simply go to your “Home” TAB and select “Reviews”.
Share your great reviews with the world. Freetobook is about to release a new review sharing system so you can get your reviews out there and read by potential guests.
Sharing reviews is easy with :
a simple to install review widget for your website, available in a variety of formats and the ability to resize and customise colours
freetobook’s new “click here to share” a review instantly on facebook and twitter.
linked to your booking system for instant direct bookings.
It gets better…each review widget will give guests instant access to your freetobook reviews and link them directly to your booking system, making it easy for impressed customers to make a direct commission free booking there and then.
Keep an eye open for the launch of the new review sharing system… another great idea from freetobook giving you more for less. As soon as the review sharing system is available you will find it in the same place as your current reviews – go to your “Home” TAB and select “Reviews”.
We expect to launch the new review sharing system before Christmas 2013 so it won’t be long before you can show off all your best reviews across your website and social media platforms.
In the spirit of sharing please feel free to tell others about your experience of freetobook the internet booking engine with more for less.
Fast, free and easy way to get more TripAdvisor reviews.
With freetobook you always get a competitive advantage from our cutting edge technology that keeps you in control and fully armed with a variety of tools and services, all created to maximise your bookings, marketing and reputation.
Using this new function freetobook gives you the option of connecting TripAdvisor’s automated review request system to your customer’s email address and checkout date. If you opt into this service (in your TripAdvisor account) then TripAdvisor will be given all of your customer’s email addresses along with their checkout dates (future bookings). If you authorise TripAdvisor they will then send out automated review requests after your customer has checked out.
This service is available free of charge to all freetobook customers. It is available to all accommodation properties except those listed as Vacation Rentals by TripAdvisor.
How do I switch on Review Express automatic emails ?
1. Simply login to your TripAdvisor account on TripAdvisor’s website, click on the “Review Express” logo and select the “Send Emails Automatically” TAB (there is no need to contact freetobook).
2. Agree the Review Express conditions and confirm that freetobook is your internet booking engine.
That’s it! This is a do it yourself service and there is no need to contact freetobook.
How does Review Express work ?
If you have agreed the terms on TripAdvisor then freetobook will check all of your future bookings and send the email address and the checkout date for each booking. TripAdvisor will use this data to send automated review request emails to your customers a few days after they have checked out. (note this service is completely optional, no data is sent without your authorisation)
How much does it cost ?
Freetobook makes no charge for this service and TripAdvisor do not charge. It is a do it yourself service, simply opt in by logging into TripAdvisor, no need to contact freetobook.
What freetobook does when you sign up to Review Express.
Within 24hours of signing up to Review Express the freetobook system will automatically send TripAdvisor the guest email addresses and checkout date for all your future bookings. If a booking is later modified we send TripAdvisor the new data. If a booking is cancelled we let TripAdvisor know not to send an automated review.
TripAdvisor have let us know that if a property later opts out of Review Express they will not send any automated reviews using the data you have given them access to. You opt out from your TripAdvisor account and freetobook will know within 24hours.
Freetobook provides the Review Express service automatically there is no need to contact us as the service is activated using your TripAdvisor account. Like many services offered by freetobook it is free and optional. Freetobook also offer some premium paid for services like Channel Management and Mobile Website and Booking – find out more.
Click here to visit TripAdvisor’s page and find out more about Review Express
TripConnect now live World-Wide for Hotels, B&Bs and Guest Houses
As of today independent hotels, bed and breakfasts from all corners of the world can advertise directly for bookings on TripAdvisor. Owners will be able to drive direct bookings with zero commission from their TripAdvisor pages. They will be able to bid for clicks on a PayPerClick basis.
This is nothing short of a revolution in the way TripAdvisor promotes accommodation, a new way to get direct bookings.
If you are a property owner you can use the TripConnect system to show real-time rates and availability with a booking button for the customer to complete the booking.
What will you need for TripConnect to work ?
1. An approved Internet Booking Engine (IBE) like freetobook.
When you have all three of the above you can set your PayPerClick budget and get started. You will be able to set a daily cap on your spend and you can do it for as long as you want. TripAdvisor will give you a forecast for monthly spend so you get an idea of costs.
As each booking comes in freetobook will show you that it came from TripConnect. You will also get a report from TripConnect showing your click costs and the booking revenue you achieved. This way you will be able to analyse the return on your advertising spend.
Freetobook is a Premium partner of TripConnect and can offer the service worldwide. If you already have a freetobook account you just need to contact TripConnect to setup your account. If you don’t yet work with freetobook this is an ideal time to signup.
Hotels will switch adverts from Google to TripConnect
Google will lose PayPerClick advertising revenue to TripConnect.
In the real world of limited marketing budgets one company’s gain will be another’s loss. The much awaited TripConnect system is a new way for properties to spend advertising money. (previous blog What is TripConnect ?)
Here at freetobook we are predicting Google will lose advertising revenue from property owners. We are already getting a significant number of property owners telling us they plan to switch their Pay Per Click budgets onto TripConnect. It makes total sense to us when you look at the logic, if your money is limited it is probably better spent on TripAdvisor’s new TripConnect system.
Why is Google Pay Per Click inferior to TripConnect ?
1.Google Pay Per Click is wasteful : TripConnect will not show adverts when the property is unavailable. The TripConnect system checks availability and rates with the properties Internet Booking Engine (IBE) before showing the advert. By comparison Google Pay Per Click adverts are not “availability dependent” and will always show, costing clicks when a property is unavailable.
2.Direct into the booking process: TripConnect puts the customer directly into the booking process cutting out wasted time spent browsing, you have all the information to make the purchase…. price, price comparison, availability and a quality ranking. A Google advert provides none of these.
3.Customer purchase point: When a potential customer is searching on TripAdvisor they are beyond the simple Google search “London Hotels” they are looking for “Which London hotel” where would you rather put your money ?
4.Easy ROI Tracking: TripConnect has built in tracking to show bookings completed alongside the costs so properties can easily tack their Return On Investment (ROI). Yes, Google has their analytics but they can require some specialist knowledge TripConnect tells a property what they want to know booking revenue vs. advertising costs.
5.Content rich : A TripAdvisor TripConnect advert is on the property’s TripAdvisor page, content and context rich.
The battle for Pay Per Click advertising revenue from accommodation owners is going to get more interesting with the launch of TripConnect. The freetobook Internet Booking Engine (IBE) is a premium partner of TripConnect so all our customers will be able to participate in TripConnect right from the start.
Our guess is that Google Hotel Finder will be watching TripConnect with their data microscope, after all not even Google wants to see their click revenue start to shrink. However, the lack of connectivity to the world’s property owners, their booking engines and inferior review data are three weaknesses they would need to rectify before a realistic chase can commence on TripConnect.
TripConnect and freetobook Worldwide Premium Partners
What is TripConnect ?
TripConnect is a new service, not yet live, offered by TripAdvisor (due to launch late 2013). If a property is using freetobook they will be able to advertise rates, availability and receive bookings on TripAdvisor.
The main points about TripConnect.
You need to have:
1. An Internet Booking Engine (freetobook) with Premium Partner status. (If you don’t have a freetobook account register here today)
2. An active business listing with TripAdvisor
What will happen when I have a freetobook account and a business listing with TripAdvisor ?
You will be able to advertise on a Pay Per Click basis with TripAdvisor using TripConnect.
Pay for clicks so your advertisement with show and TripConnect will report which clicks have returned bookings.
TripConnect will show you the value of the bookings and your costs so you can calculate your ROI (Return on Investment).
Click costs will be determined by the TripConnect system, you will be able to login to TripConnect and see the costs, switch the advert on or off, cap the amount and the period the advert runs for.
The email address of all customers that have made a booking will be added to the Review Express system, all guests that book will automatically receive an invitation to add a review to TripAdvisor.
What happens next ?
You will need to wait for the TripConnect system to go live (late 2013). If you don’t yet have a booking system this would be an ideal time to register and start using freetobook.
We will continue to post updates on the TripConnect system on this blog, our facebook page, twitter and by email newsletter. You can also find out more about TripConnect from TripAdvisor themselves – for their latest info go to TripAdvisor Insights
You can stumble across myriad views and opinions about TripAdvisor but here is a blog based on on a recent article directly from TripAdvisor.
There is a difference between “TripAdvisor rating” and “TripAdvisor ranking”
Your “TripAdvisor rating” is based on reviews this rating is 1-5 with 5 being the highest. Your “TripAdvisor ranking” is formed from your rating when compared with other nearby properties.
Tips from TripAdvisor
1) How to increase your TripAdvisor ranking ?
TripAdvisor says “The better your ratings – and the more recent your reviews – the higher your property’s TripAdvisor ranking can potentially go.”
They are not giving away the exact method or algorithm of ranking (you can’t expect them to) however it is clear that you should get more reviews and make sure they are good reviews to rise up the rankings.
2) Embrace and respond to negative reviews
Don’t ignore or hide away from negative reviews. Research shows “84% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review improves their impression of the hotel”
It is a good policy to respond to reviews (in an appropriate manner) as it shows that you value feedback and that you are trying to provide the best possible experience.
3) Do NOT offer incentives for reviews
TripAdvisor says “Incentives, like offering vouchers or upgrades in exchange for writing a review, actually violate TripAdvisor rules because special treatment or discounts can hinder the validity and accuracy of a guest’s reviews”
They will remove reviews they think have received an incented and penalties can be imposed on the ranking as well as not being eligible for their awards.
We’ve all been there, whether we’re accommodation owners or not. We’ve all imagined we’ve done something well only to be brought up short when we’re told we haven’t. It leaves us feeling baffled and hurt – especially if we imagined we’d done our best.
If you’re the owner of a B&B, guesthouse or cottage and you receive a less than glowing review, the feeling is even more acute, because your property is your home – it’s not just a building where you go to work every day. The temptation is to take any negative feedback personally and react instantly. But if you allow yourself to do so, it can result in real damage to your online reputation. And in the modern digital world, where there’s so much scope for people to review absolutely everything, that’s something you want to avoid at all costs. What you need to do is take a deep breath, count to 10 and keep these (appropriately enough) 10 DOs and DON’Ts in mind…
1. DON’T Ignore it, no matter how unjustified or unfair it is. You might imagine that you’re maintaining a dignified silence, but to other users of the site (e.g. TripAdvisor) it’ll look as though you don’t care enough to respond. The review in question will therefore acquire unearned credence.
2. DON’T Respond in a defensive way that personally attacks the reviewer. You’ll do just as much harm as you would by ignoring it.
3. DO Thank the reviewer for his/her contribution.
4. DO Highlight any positive aspects mentioned in the review first.
5. DO Express surprise and disappointment that the reviewer had an experience that was in any way negative (thus implying that it was extremely unusual.)
6. DO Point out any factual inaccuracies in the review, but politely. By being polite and expressing regret you not only show that you care about your guests’ experiences. You also take the higher ground.
7. DO Take the conversation off-line: suggest that the guest contact you at your private email address, thus defusing the possibility of a public row.
But it’s not just negative reviews that require a response. Positive feedback on review sites is an incredibly useful free marketing tool, so it needs to be acknowledged too…
8. DO Once again, thank the guest for taking the time to write.
9. DO Highlight any specific aspects that they praised – if it’s good, it’s worth repeating.
10. DO Make sure your response includes details of your website, making easier for any fans of your property to pass on those details and book again.
With the huge increase in the number of people using social media, a guest’s opinion of your property is no longer limited to whatever site it originally appeared on. Reviewers can now also link back to their opinion on Twitter or Facebook. Other Twitter/Facebook users can then retweet/share it, allowing it to gain more and more traction online. You can’t afford not to be part of this conversation. But by getting involved in a dignified, circumspect way, you can turn it to your advantage and defuse its potential threats or get added value from the positive.
USPs are all the rage these days, because they make you stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Given how full of character – and, yes, “quirky” even! – B&Bs and guest houses can be, they’re in a great position to sell themselves in this way.
Having said that, figuring out your USP can sometimes be a bit of a head-scratcher, so here’s some food for thought.
For one thing, the great advantage that all independent properties have is that they’re unique in relation to chain hotels: they’re smaller, more intimate and offer a more personalised service. But, as the owner of a bed and breakfast or guest house, how do you distinguish it from all the others in the area? Here are some things to think about…
Are you family-run?
Do you grow your own fresh produce?
Do you have a herb garden?
Do you do some home baking?
Are you pet-friendly?
Do you have a log fire?
If you can think of something, you’ll find it a lot easier to attract customers and get extra bookings,
Mind you, it’s not just a case of being unique; it’s also important to be unique in the right way. If you’re looking for a unique attribute that you can use to sell your property and nothing comes readily to mind, it might be a good idea to start by looking at your recent customers:
Who has booked your property in the past few years?
What kind of people are they? What are they interested in?
Have they written reviews on your website, or on TripAdvisor? If so, what have they said?
Have any of them told you that they booked your property for a special reason?
Has a certain local event or landmark brought them to your area?
In terms of finding something unique, customer feedback can be your most valuable resource.
If, having done all this, you still feel that your property still doesn’t have an obvious unique attribute, there’s always the option of creating one. If you’re in an especially beautiful part of the world, you could study some local history and offer walking tours that focus on that. Seasonal unique selling points are another great way to keep business coming in all year round: you could focus on an outdoor facility, like a patio garden, in summer, and an indoor facility, like a real log fire, in winter.
Once you’ve settled on a unique attribute that you’re confident about, the other most important strategy is not to undersell it. Make sure it’s prominent on your website and try to complement it, if possible, with the best possible photos.