Friday, 12 June 2009

I used to be a bit of a cheerleader for TripAdvisor...

I still believe their repository of guest reviews the best thing that could have happened to independent travelers who can choose their accommodation and build an expectation based on the experience of previous guests. But I was disappointed when TripAdvisor localised Baan Bophut's ranking and irritated when they didn't answer my mails asking for an explanation. What possible benefit could an organization dedicated (I thought) to serving independent travelers gain from pushing us into a mashed-up backwater ranking? A little research revealed the answer to this artless fool.

TripAdvisor is now owned by and is little more than a marketing tool for the World's biggest online travel agency and our previous placing among the top end of Koh Samui's hotel ranking is now, with few exceptions, mainly populated by Expedia Inc's affiliate hotels.

TripAdvisor no longer make the claim to be independent - with good reason

It seems inevitable that our target guests, independent travelers that book their own flights and accommodation, will progressively surrender to the ease of simply clicking on TA's 'Check Rates!' button, rather than hunt-out a hotel's site and book for themselves.

Expedia Inc's stranglehold on user generated feedback increased last year with TA's acquisition of Virtual Tourist

So, what to do? Do we maintain our independence and accept that Baan Bophut's former prominence (and occupancy) will continue to diminish over time? Or do we join them; consent to pay Expedia's commission rate to restore our standing in their rankings and keep our little hotel in business?

Unlike TripAdvisor and many others in the travel industry, we're not ready to sacrifice our independence just yet.

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