TripAdvisor Plus subscription services launches, dubbed ‘Netflix of travel’


After a year that may have changed travel forever, a leading website has shown that it isn’t afraid to go further into uncharted territory.

TripAdvisor has announced it is launching a subscription service for regular travellers and frequent flyers to open perks and discounts for future trips.

“TripAdvisor Plus is a game-changer for both travellers and hoteliers,” TripAdvisor’s chief commercial officer Kanika Soni said.

“Travellers 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.”

The company has said members will enjoy cheaper privileges such as spa credit or meals, while offering lower booking fees. Meanwhile, hotels will no longer be required to pay commission on bookings through the website.

TripAdvisor currently charges up to 30 per cent commission fees on bookings. Pivoting to rely on subscription fees, the website says overall it will equate for cheaper travel for guests and lower overheads for hotels.

More importantly it could become a go-to site for members, when it comes to booking travel.

WHAT WILL TRIPADVISOR PLUS MEMBERSHIP GET YOU?

TripAdvisor Plus aims to do for travel what Netflix did for films and Spotify did for music.

TripAdvisor is pricing the Plus annual membership at $130.

For that you might get bottle of house wine in your minibar, or complimentary tickets to a local attraction through your hotel booking. TripAdvisor is currently loose with these details, and “perks” seem to be largely up to member hotels to decide on.

However, the key promise to members is a lower cost of travel and hotel bookings.

The Recurring Revenue Bundle (a “Rundle” in tech jargon) is nothing new. TripAdvisor will be the latest tech company following the well-trodden path of the subscription model as popularised by tech companies such as Amazon’s Prime service – a comparison the company’s release was ready to draw.

However where TripAdvisor’s membership departs from the tried and tested “Rundle” and becomes a more adventurous.

Launching during the pandemic is quite a risk to take when travel has been affected so much by the restrictions around the world.

Current travel restrictions mean that much of the potential of TripAdvisor Plus is yet to be tapped into. It will be interesting to see how many travellers take up the offer, even while international travel remains off limits.

In its statement TripAdvisor says the plan will deliver “crucial cost saving to hotels” still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. However there are no additional promises of flexibility or hygiene to consumers at this stage.

TripAdvisor Plus was tested for US domestic travel in a limited, beta-phase trial in December. The company aims to include hotels all of the US by the end of the year.

From today, hotels and in the Asia-Pacific region will be invited to participate in the program. Travellers from Australia and New Zealand, however, will have to wait.

This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and was reproduced with permission



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