TripAdvisor’s About-turn On Bókun Listings

Nearly 2 months after TripAdvisor announced that it would show preferential treatment to suppliers who are on the Bókun platform, TripAdvisor President and CEO Stephen Kaufer reversed that decision during the Phocuswright Conference.

This is great news for suppliers and I applaud TripAdvisor for reversing this decision.

Kaufer said the company will not preference tour and activity operators that use Bókun over those that do not.

“If you’re a Bókun supplier or a supplier through another technology you’re treated the same on TripAdvisor,” Kaufer says. “So please, if you’re an attraction supplier, use Bókun if it fits your needs. We think it’s a great software. If a different partner does a better job, go with that partner, run your business… With Bókun we just want to bring more and more suppliers online.” 

Kaufer later added, “If your content on TripAdvisor is great, you’re going to get great treatment on TripAdvisor. You’re not going to get any better treatment just because Bókun is your system”.

I made my thoughts very clear on my previous article when it was first announced at the Arival conference by Dermot Halpin, the President of TripAdvisor Experiences. For me, that decision was a bad one as it meant reviews were no longer ranked on merit, but on favouritism, destroying the backbone of what TripAdvisor is all about, and trust in what customers are viewing.

While reversing this is fantastic news for suppliers, it highlights a fundamental issue within TripAdvisor itself.

During the Arival conference, Halpin made a point to apologise to suppliers for the poor communications — specifically around algorithm changes — coming from TripAdvisor. He admitted that they “had not done a good job on that”. This seems to be a running issue.

Between the algorithm change, removing contact details from listings, and now this recent reversal, communication seems to be a key issue within TripAdvisor at a brand level. They need to sort out their internal and external communication as they are not all singing from the same hymn sheet and this flip-flopping could, unfortunately, have done more damage to the brand as more people lose trust in anything they say.

Let me be clear, I love what TripAdvisor can do for a business. I run workshops on how to use them! It can have such a positive impact on a supplier’s bottom line, but these last few months have been damaging. They need an internal comms department to oversee anything before it goes out into the public domain. If they already have, and I imagine they do, they need to re-structure that whole division, and fast.

But let’s not put a complete downer on this great news for suppliers. Reversing Halpin’s comments was the right thing to do, not just for suppliers, but for TripAdvisor’s soul.

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