Posted by Ric Garrido

Kayak.com, the travel meta-search engine that scans the web for hotel prices (and airfares) from different online travel agencies, purchased TravelPost.com in 2007. Recent news indicates Kayak.com will try to establish rivalry to TripAdvisor.com’s globally dominant hotel review database with a revamped TravelPost.com site.

Kayak.com has put money into a relaunch of TravelPost.com. My initial glance at the site reveals a major hurdle is still waiting to be leaped in catching up to the volume of TripAdvisor.com hotel reviews.

Major Hotel Review Sites

Last summer I attempted an analysis of TripAdvisor.com hotel reviews compared to some other hotel review sites.  Ultimately I concluded Expedia.com, owner of TripAdvisor.com and Hotels.com, had the most comprehensive database of hotel reviews on the web. No other hotel review site came even close.

Six sites I studied last July were:

1.    TripAdvisor (Expedia)

2.    Hotels.com (Expedia)

3.    IgoUgo (Travelocity)

4.    TravelPost (Kayak)

5.    Orbitz

6.    Yahoo Travel Guides

The basic methodology was to look at the number of recent hotel reviews for several major San Francisco hotels. I defined recent as any review posted on the hotel review website within the prior 12 months. 

Some hotel review sites displayed a good number of total reviews when checking a hotel rating, however, closer examination showed the vast majority of these hotel reviews were more than a year old.  Some of these hotel review sites had seen their popularity wane several years earlier.  TravelPost.com was one hotel review site sitting idle despite having one of the largest hotel review databases.

Last summer TripAdvisor.com appeared to be the only hotel review site on the rise with a database large enough to be generally useful to a broad range of potential hotel guests traveling around the USA and the world.

The Ascendance of Kayak.com

Now in 2009 Kayak.com is stating a commitment to promote TravelPost.com in a plan to tackle TripAdvisor.com in a subtle front against Expedia’s domination of the online hotel review scene.  It is too early to tell whether TravelPost.com can mount a competitive campaign.

The popularity of Kayak.com over the past couple of years is an indicator that TravelPost.com can receive plenty of advertising and referral traffic.  Kayak.com pulled in 6.25 million unique visitors during February 2009, according to Compete.com, compared to 8.19 million TripAdvisor.com visitors.  Kayak’s hotel review site TravelPost.com is still a toddler in popularity at 340,000 visitors in Feb 2009 compared to the giant TripAdvisor.

How effectively Kayak.com can refer people to TravelPost.com for hotel review submissions will play a key role in the success of this site. With Kayak.com already receiving 75% of the traffic of TripAdvisor.com, a hotel review site would be a natural extension to the one-stop check of Kayak.com.

The Hurdle – who will generate the reviews for TravelPost?

The primary issue I see at the moment is the database of hotels TravelPost.com is accessing.  I rechecked some hotels that I studied last July, eight months ago.

Here is an example to illustrate the database issue hurdle TravelPost.com must overcome to be a competitive hotel travel review website with TripAdvisor.com based on the member activity over the past 8.5 months as measured by hotel review posts.

Westin St. Francis, San Francisco is a major hotel with nearly 1,200 rooms in downtown San Francisco located on Union Square in the shopping district.  This hotel has had thousands of guests over the past 8 months.

San Francisco Westin St. Francis Hotel

Website

New Reviews posted since July 2008

Reviews posted in one year – July 2007 to July 2008

Total Reviews

July 11, 2008

Total Reviews

March 26, 2009

TripAdvisor.com

111

128

463

574

TravelPost.com

68*(actually just 3)

1

95

163

IgoUgo.com

9

23

43

52

Hotels.com

72

28

68

140

Orbitz.com

18

31

61

79

Yahoo Travel Guides

2

4

163

165

 *  The raw numbers in this table indicate TripAdvisor.com grew by 111 hotel reviews in the past 8.5 months.  The reviews for the Westin St. Francis on TravelPost.com appear to have grown by 68 reviews, a respectable number of reviews added to the database.  A closer look at the source of these reviews indicates most of this growth is actually from using IgoUgo as an added database of hotel reviews on TravelPost.com.  There were only 3 reviews accessed from TravelPost.com since July 2008 during the timeframe that TripAdvisor added 111 reviews for the Westin St. Francis Hotel.

This is why TravelPost.com has a huge hurdle.  Getting the public posting is a challenge.

 

The following is an excerpt from my July 12, 2008 post “Online Hotel Reviews Website Comparison”.

 

Online Hotel Reviews

Travelers place a lot of faith in consumer-generated hotel reviews. I trust
FlyerTalk.com content because there is a large community of travelers who provide opinions and feedback on each other’s comments. Most major upscale hotels around the world have user comments and reviews from the 100,000+ members of the FlyerTalk.com community.

 

I believe the self-monitoring independent community of FlyerTalk.com provides more accurate hotel reviews than what is typically found on TripAdvisor.com, particularly when it comes to the experience for elite frequent guests in the major hotel loyalty programs.

Social Media Co-Opted by Corporate Media

The best social media websites with consumer generated comments and hotel reviews have been co-opted by corporate media. Social media websites where users generate the content for free has been a successful marketing partnership for major travel industry players. What in many cases started out as independent, organically developed networks of people creating content for free to help other travelers has developed into the current condition of the major global travel reservations corporations like Expedia.com and Travelocity.com owning social network sites like TripAdvisor.com and IgoUgo.com as corporate subsidiaries.

Meta-search engines like Kayak.com who own TravelPost.com, and bulletin boards like FlyerTalk.com and Cruisecritic.com are not sellers of travel, but make money on an advertising model based on travelers frequently interacting as a community creating new content.

Major Online Hotel Reviews and Their Parent Corporations

IgoUgo.com hotel reviews and hotel rate meta-search engine = Travelocity.com (Parent Company)

TripAdvisor.com for hotel reviews and hotel rate meta-search = Expedia.com (Parent company)

Hotels.com has a large database for hotel reviews. Hotels.com is also an Expedia company. Hotel guests must have booked stay with Hotels.com to post a review and most of the reviews do not have any written comments. A point scale survey on Hotel Service, Hotel Condition, Room Comfort, and Room Cleanliness are used to give the hotel a rating on a 5 point scale. This website offers a quick snapshot of customer satisfaction for hotel.

TravelPost.com for hotel reviews and Kayak is a meta-search = Kayak.com (Parent Company)

Orbitz.com generates its own database of user-generated hotel reviews based on hotel guests booking through Orbitz.com and responding via e-mail to a post-stay request for a hotel review.

Yahoo! Travel uses a couple of different hotel review databases. When conducting hotel searches through the Yahoo Travel homepage the results use Travelocity and the hotel reviews are the same as Travelocity. When using Yahoo Travel Guides or FareChase for hotel searches the hotel reviews are a different set.

 

Update March 28, 2009: Here is a link to Elliott Ng’s blog discussing UpTake.com for metasearch of hotel reviews. You should defintiely take a look at the UpTake.com site.

9 Responses

  1. You may want to take a look at uptake.com we have hotel reviews from 5000 sources and include 20 million opinions.

  2. Thanks for pointing me to Uptake.com.

    I spent about an hour going over the site. I like what I see.

    And the travel bloggers network is certainly a feature that caught my attention today, particularly the Hotels Blog.

    http://hotels.uptake.com/blog/

  3. [...] » TravelPost to become a Hotel Review Contender to TripAdvisor … [...]

  4. [...] this kind of mass usage and recognition.”  Ric Garrido (@loyaltytraveler) goes further with a quantitative analysis of the rate of hotel review growth at various sites sampling 1 [...]

  5. [...] Ric Garrido writes about the amounts of UGC that TA and TP have, see his blog post. [...]

  6. This last Sunday was Easter and I visited Nikki Beach Resort Turks and was amazed. They have an incredible Sunday Brunch with everything you can imagine, and it was all great! After we gorged for a few hours with unlimited mimosas we headed to the pool party. DJ on the pool deck with a margarita in the infinity pool was like heaven. We ended the evening with Beach bonfire and BBQ. Once again the food was terrific sitting around the bonfire laughing with some of our newfound friends. I know where I will be staying next time I come to Turks and Caicos.

    For more information in Nikki Beach Turks and Caicos Resort Islands visit http://nikkibeachhotels.com/turks/.

  7. Yes, This is true really appreciable..Thanks a lot …

  8. Interesting idea of search engine scanning hotel prices. It is benefical for large population. Insted try look at Slovakia most known tourist places.

  9. its very nice post great job and thanks for sharing.

home top