Travel platform Tripadvisor is hoping to encourage travel with its new membership program Tripadvisor Plus. Designed for travelers, the new membership program offers individual members insider savings such as discounted hotel rates, personal service, awards, and benefits and perks (e.g., room upgrades, spa credits, etc.) for an annual membership fee of $99. Only Tripadvisor Plus members will be able to see discounted hotel rates.
Hotels join for free
Hotels and B&Bs can join the program for free; there are no upfront fees or commissions. Tripadvisor Plus hotels receive special badges and additional visibility on the Tripadvisor platform. This serves as an incentive to hotels to participate in the program. The end result is driving more traffic to the Tripadvisor website and to increase bookings for participating hotels.
“Tripadvisor Plus offers an innovative alternative to the traditional online model of room distribution for hotels. Rather than spend as much as 30% per booking on commission fees, hotels can now significantly reduce their third-party costs and pass on some of those savings to their guests via discounts and perks, increasing room demand and enhancing the guest experience at the same time,” said the company in a March 8, 2021 news release.
“By offering these savings and perks to Tripadvisor Plus subscribers, hotels increase their visibility on the world’s largest travel platform, among both subscribers and non-subscribers alike. Tripadvisor Plus accommodations receive special badging and enhanced placement within the Best Value sort order reflective of the strength of their offering to travelers,” Tripadvisor added.
Benefits to participating hotels
Tripadvisor said hotels will get the following benefits from participating in the Tripadvisor Plus membership program:
- Higher visibility and greater demand: Hotels will get a higher placement in the Best Value sort order on the Tripadvisor site as well as a special badge.
- The program is free to join.
- Flexibility: Hotels do not have an annual commitment or last room availability requirements. They can opt out at any time.
- Stronger customer connections: Hotels will have the opportunity to market to travelers after their stays.
- More engaged travelers: Tripadvisor believes Tripadvisor Plus members will be a “highly valuable customer segment” and will stay longer than non-members will.
- Better customer experience: The membership program allows hotels to pass along savings to their guests to improve the guest experience which may improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.
“Tripadvisor Plus is a game changer for both travelers and hoteliers,” said Kanika Soni, chief commercial officer, Tripadvisor. “Travelers get to enjoy a memorable experience thanks to special perks and discounts – and hotels have a brand new way to attract valuable guests while avoiding hefty third-party commissions.”
Tripadvisor launched the membership program in beta in December to a small segment of its U.S. audience. It will be made available to other U.S. travelers soon. Interested travelers can visit Tripadvisor online to sign up for information about availability.
Terms and conditions
Like all subscriptions and membership programs, Tripadvisor Plus has terms and conditions that each member must abide by. Currently, the program is only available to individuals. Members may cancel their subscriptions at any time. If they cancel within the first 30 days of membership, they will receive a full refund of the annual fee. If they cancel outside the 30-day window, members will not receive a refund. The company reserves the right to accept or refuse any request for a subscription. The program may periodically change its pricing. Visit the site’s terms and conditions page for full details.
The travel industry is among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as we begin year 2 of quarantine and social distancing. Hotels who have survived are eager to welcome back travelers, and travelers are eager to visit family and friends and see anything but their living rooms and home offices. Assuming discounts and perks offered exceed the annual membership fee, Tripadvisor Plus could become very popular with travelers, who get the benefit of being in a privileged class of travelers. Except for technology and marketing costs, Tripadvisor probably has limited costs for what could potentially be a big benefit, while diversifying their revenue streams with a subscription product. And what better time to test out something new than when things are slow? If the program is popular now, imagine how it could grow when travel becomes safer and more popular again!