TripAdvisor direct bookings TripConnect explained

TripConnect explained
TripAdvisor for business

Many accommodation businesses are confused about TripAdvisor’s direct bookings, are you one them?  Let’s try to explain, so find a nice quiet spot to sit down with a glass or mug of your favourite drink.

In the last year TripAdvisor has changed its business model a number of times leaving many potential customers confused and even locked out. We have created a couple of videos to help you understand these changes (skip to these at the foot of the article…if you like) but it’s probably worthwhile seeing some of the basic facts first. Like them or not, here they are;

  1. TripAdvisor is a booking website used to book accommodation online.
  2. Accommodation businesses can receive bookings directly from the TripAdvisor website using a booking engine i.e. Freetobook.
  3. If you are already working with an OTA (Online Travel Agent) like Expedia or you may find that the OTAs advertise your availability on TripAdvisor. These bookings will come through the OTA (not directly from TripAdvisor) and look like any other OTA booking and you pay your agreed commission to the OTA, as usual.
  4. The OTA pays to advertise on the TripAdvisor website, each OTA decides if they want to advertise your availability. You have no control over this.
  5. TripAdvisor lists availability and prices prominently so properties that don’t have online rates will be more difficult to find and if they are found they’ll be surrounded by images and popups directing customers to nearby available properties.
  6. Available to accommodation owners worldwide except if you have a holiday rental on HolidayLettings or FlipKey

In short, if you don’t have online rates you will receive less traffic and fewer bookings than in previous years.

Direct bookings via TripAdvisor
Direct bookings via TripAdvisor

If you do want bookings this way then you choose your route, direct with TripAdvisor or through an OTA – either way there is no requirement for any fixed upfront costs, no subscriptions or annual fees.

To get bookings direct you will need an account with TripAdvisor and an approved booking engine (or connectivity partner i.e. freetobook). Simply login to your TripAdvisor account and setup your direct advertising via their TripConnect service. Most approved booking engines charge for this service but with us it is completely free.

To advertise directly on their website you will need to pay TripAdvisor. In their wisdom they have created two models for payment (hence our two videos mentioned earlier).

Model One: Pay Per ClickTripAdvisor CPC video
Here you pay TripAdvisor a click fee each time a customer clicks on your advert, on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis. However, you DON’T pay for a search, you only pay when the customer searches AND then clicks on your available price. If you are not available on the dates the customer searches or they don’t click the price then you don’t pay.

Cost Per Click model facts:
You pay when a customer clicks on your available price.
TripAdvisor sets the click costs and from feedback they are generally quite low (but we can’t see or know the cost, they are only visible in TripAdvisor).
You can vary what you pay per click (your bid). If you bid too low then TripAdvisor will remove the advert and you would have to increase your bid to show again.
If you work with an OTA they might also advertise alongside your CPC advert.
You set the budget and pay TripAdvisor and can switch it on/off as you please.

In this model you pay for the advertising and you measure the bookings that come from the clicks. Bidding higher for clicks will make you show at the top of any adverts on your property and bidding too low will mean you don’t show. You make the judgement as to the cost effectiveness of your advertising by totalling up the bookings versus the click costs.  Ideally that return has to better than any other booking options i.e. OTA commissions.

Enjoy the youtube video on the Cost Per Click model.

Model Two: Pay Per Booking model (Instant Booking)Instant Booking video for TripConnect
In this model you only pay TripAdvisor for bookings. There is no cost for each click, instead you pay a commission amount on realised bookings. You set this up by logging into TripAdvisor account and activating an Instant Booking campaign. You pay TripAdvisor a commission fee only after the customer has completed their stay. At the time of this blog Instant Booking is not available to all properties. Use the Instant booking link below to check.

Pay Per Booking model facts:
You pay either 12% or 15% commission after the customer has stayed.
If you bid 12% then TripAdvisor will show your advert 25% of the time.
If you bid 15% then TripAdvisor will show your advert 50% of the time.
No other OTAs will show if your advert is showing.
There is no payment/commission due on bookings that cancel.

Enjoy the youtube video on the Pay Per Booking model

By now you are either asleep or completely up to speed on direct bookings from TripAdvisor….. that is before it changes (only joking!)  As always, please share your experience of this service or any other relevant news, let us know how it has or hasn’t worked for you.

Other relevant pages:
List of premium partners (booking engines) with TripAdvisor
TripConnect CPC on freetobook
TripConnect Instant Booking on freetobook
TripAdvisor TripConnect on their site
TripAdvisor Instant Booking on their site

World's Best B&B 2015
World’s Best B&B 2015

Millgate B&B was awarded the best B&B in the World 2015, why not have a little read about how Sue did it along with a few tips to learn from.

If you’re a historian or an online booking nerd and want to see some old blogs on how TripAdvisor has changed since we first started reporting and connecting way back in July 2013

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23 thoughts on “TripAdvisor direct bookings TripConnect explained

  1. Hi, I don’t know if you are able to advise me, but I have tried to contact Tripadvisor on numerous occasions by phone and by email and they are just not coming back to me on this. I signed up for Tripconnect with Freetobook some time ago and then it stopped for some reason, now I simply have a link to my website on my Tripadvisor review page. However although the cost of this started at about £25, it has gradually increased so that they have been taking over £80 per month from me over recent months. I have had not received any bookings from Tripadvisor, only some from Holiday Lettings for my self-catering studio apartment, but this is entirely separate and they take money on a commission basis for that. Is there any kind of ombudsman or overseer that I can contact or anything I can do?
    Baytree House
    DG6 4JQ

    1. If you are using TripConnect it should be working, sometimes its due to the click bids being too low that you stop showing. With the new TripConnect you are no longer required to have a business listing. Quite happy to have a chat about it if you like.

  2. I do like Trip Advisor (TA)! I have your magnetic logo on my letterbox. I understand concepts but still think they are confusing – and expensive! I’m with and yes, I can find my place via TA – I guessed some few years ago that your target was to eventually be a direct booking Agent. One issue I do have is that I know several people have made comments but some have not been published – if you look at my site on I have about 10. I’m quite happy to pay 15% but why only advertise for 50% of the time most odd.

  3. Thanks a heap for pulling back the curtain on these services…and for doing it in lay language that a non-nerd can understand.


  4. first of all thank you for the amazing support: Freetobook functions are very effective.I have problems with tripadvisor. My hotel is rated 13° in Rome, we pay around 2500€ for the Profile and then a significant amount for the clicks, as the OTA (Espedia and Agoda) also bid. Last year we got a fantastic improvement, setting Freetobook, an explosion of reservations. Anyway in the last months we receive less click (av. 80/day) and less reservation comparing with last year. Then 10 days ago someone from tripadvisor called me proposing the new direct booking. I said I was fine with tripconnect. … I don’t know… but from the next day we receive just 20clik/day and …no reservations. I am very worried. Tripadvisor gets customers where they want. I mean years ago the hotel were listed by rating. Now they list by “just for you” that’s very unfair, for these reasons: many customers don’t know how make the research…., then what’s the “just for you” ? for example if I ask the list of the hotels in Rome.. now they show a messy non-sense list ( very expensive hotels, very cheap,…) and my hotel is at position 144,.. 172… I mean if “just for you” pretends to suggest the hotels that customer likes .. of course I like my hotel that should be in the first positions of my “just for you”. I think they are descouraging me.. no reservations for some days….. so I have to join the direct booking! Do you have any idea how “just for you” list works? thank you best regards Luisa Fusco

    1. The “Just for You” listing on TripAdvisor helps customers sort properties by user data, this is data in their TripAdvisor account. This is only if the user is logged into their TripAdvisor account. The user can also change the sort order. Just for you is not going to make a difference to your advertising options with TripAdvisor you can advertise for direct bookings.

  5. Hi, we have a business listing with TripAdvisor, and we also use TripConnect on a pay-per-click basis. We use FreeToBook and, and our FreeToBook bookings are improving every year. We’d like to wean ourselves off for next year for obvious (15%) reasons. I haven’t increased my Pay-per-click bid for months, because both OTAs appear on our TripAdvisor page at all times, I think.
    Something I don’t like is that shows our price net of VAT, which they know we aren’t registered for. They claim they have to display the ‘net of tax’ price, which is lower than the FreeToBook price. It’s only when the prospective guest clicks on the cheaper rate and gets caught in the ‘web’ that s/he see the real price. They cleverly make it very easy to book and very difficult to navigate out of their web and back to TripAdvisor.
    What will happen if we don’t renew our business listing, which is quite expensive, and instead use TripConnect properly, raising our bid every time they prompt us to? Or is it because we have a business listing that both OTAs always appear on our TripAdvisor page, and will that change if we don’t renew?
    It’s a little confusing 🙂

  6. We signed up for Trip Connect some time ago and it is not working on our listing. We contacted Trip Adviser yesterday and got the following response.
    TripAdvisor Support (Rachel) (TripAdvisor Support)

    Jun 17, 3:53 PM


    Thank you for contacting TripAdvisor regarding your property’s TripConnect Instant Booking campaign.

    I can see that the campaign has been set up successfully and that your booking button is showing on the live site. I have attached a screenshot so that you are able to see the placement of the button.

    Please note that at this time, the booking button will only be seen by visitors to the site who have an U.S. IP address. The number of site users able to see your Instant Booking button will expand as the year goes on and additional points of sale are added to the program.

    Please let me know of any additional questions or concerns.



    Is this actually correct? From your video it doesn’t mention that it is only US IP addresses which see the direct booking button.

    1. TripConnect Instant Booking is being rolled out bit by bit by teritory. TripConnect Cost Per Click is worldwide, we have been advised that Instant Booking will be worldwide in the not too distant future.

  7. Hi Craig – Can you please confirm that the tripadvisor no longer require us to have a business account if we sign up for trip connect? This was my main problem in the past – I could never work out why I should pay a hefty annual subscription PLUS a cost per click amount too!

  8. Trip Advisor has told me that I don’t qualify for TripConnect because I am in Canada. I have also signed up for the pay for click account but I don’t show up for key words like ‘accommodation Peterborough Ontario’ or ‘lodging Ontario’.

    Their website shows hotels in Peterborough but does not list the B&B’s. Most people don’t ask for BB, they ask for accommodation

    1. We have customers all over the world using TripConnect, there must be a mistake somewhere at their end ?

    1. Sorry at this time we only Blog in English, can you use Google Translator ? I know its not perfect but it might help.

  9. Hi Roisin

    I agree with you re the 15% at but we get around that by openly selling a minimum of 2 nights during the week and 3 nights over the weekend to make it worth our while. Clients can also get a single rate direct by only get a double room rate on

    Craig – Tripadvisor charges 15% on trip connect, but there is no way of restricting bookings via this way like we can with other channel partners. Is this something that could be looked into?

    1. I think we will need to look at a channel manager side to Instant Booking. At this time we don’t make any charges for TripConnect if we are going to start managing the connection we will need to make a small charge.

  10. Please shed some light.

    In case of booking thru TA instant booking button, hotel will have to pay commission if guest stay according to package chosen. However, dose hotel have to also pay commission to certified booking engine on website also?


    1. With freetobook there is no charge for TripAdvisor Instant booking, so you only need to pay TA

  11. So if you are using HL, Niumba or Flipkey you can’t avail of Tripconnect. Tripconnect I saw as a way of uploading rates automatically but it seems like if you use the other portals you must continue uploading manually. 🙁

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