After booking a few hotel rooms recently, I thought it worth making some notes about why TripAdvisor is the only aggregator I feel truly comfortable using.
Unsurprisingly, it is the reviews on TripAdvisor, the service’s raison d’être, that prove so compelling to me. But there are a few other notable features, too.
A note on design
Look at the three listings pages below from TripAdvisor, Booking.com and LateRooms.com.
TripAdvisor is by far the least ‘busy’ design. There’s white space, a coherent pallette, sympathetic icons that work together and don’t clash, and where ‘urgency’ tactics are used, the messaging is not overly distracting (as it is on Booking.com).
Just look how much text there is on the pages of the two OTAs! LateRooms.com even has an unnecessary banner for branding. A tad distracting.
With TripAdvisor, the focus is on the hotels and rightly so.
TripAdvisor – lovely and clear
Booking.com – fetch me the eyewash
LateRooms.com – not too bad but not too good either
A note on cookies
This isn’t unusual, Booking.com and LateRooms.com do this, too.
Now, there may be some people who think this form of consent isn’t unambiguous and, given that cookies may be construed as personally identifiable information, that this isn’t the strictest compliance with the GDPR. But as the consumer, I have to say that the functionality the cookies deliver (personalised advertising, remembering my searches) is all within my expectations. Ultimately, the site is easy to use this way.
A note on filters
Whilst we’re on filters, I love this distance filter, allowing me to search for hotels within a certain range of any landmark. I haven’t seen anything comparable on the other sites I’ve visited. The suggested text in the field is excellent, too, tailored to my destination.
A note on listings
Reviews are the major strength of TripAdvisor and I like how on listings pages, each listing is given a ranking e.g. #1 of 35 Hotels in Bath. This is priceless information when searching, to help you avoid that fleapit hotel that is bottom of the pile.
This is a rare feature on OTAs (not seen on LateRooms.com or Booking.com).
A note on reviews
Now we get to the glorious reviews. There are two things I love. Firstly, the overview review card on pruduct pages, with its ‘travellers talk about’ feature. This is really useful to get a flavour for the hotel.
Admittedly, there are OTAs that offer something similar, such as Booking.com’s “what guests loved most” feature (seen below) on product pages. But this feature is nowhere near as focused, and doesn’t give an aggregate view.
The full reviews section on TripAdvisor product pages is even more elegant. Frequently used words and phrases are highlighted, and I can click on them to read corresponding reviews. This is really handy, for example, in cities like Bath, where parking is at a premium and I want to understand how the parking permits work at a particualr hotel.
And look at all the amazing filters available for reviews – time of year, language, traveller type. Excellent stuff ensuring TripAdvisor lives up to its branding – “Know better. Book better.”
To be fair to a competitor, Booking.com does offer a review feature that is not too far behind TripAdvisor. But the strange thing is it is not shown on product pages – users have to know to click on the average review score (something I had never done until writing this article) which will then show a pop-up review feature, shown below.
Why this would be hidden away, I’m not sure.
There is similar functionality (without the filters) on Booking.com, but it is hidden away, with users having to click on average review rating.
A note to finish
In summary, as much as OTAs are undoubtedly putting effort into conversion rate optimisation, I feel like some of them can’t see the wood for the trees. Takinga step back and viewing design in the round will produce a much more elegant solution, and that’s what TripAdvisor has achieved.
What do you think?