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.

trip advisor

TripAdvisor – lovely and clear

booking.com

Booking.com – fetch me the eyewash

late rooms.com

LateRooms.com – not too bad but not too good either

A note on cookies

TripAdvisor uses cookies to remember my search history. When I visit the site for a second time, the search bar contains my destination, number of guests and stay dates.

This isn’t unusual, Booking.com and LateRooms.com do this, too.

But TripAdvisor also uses cookies to remember my filter selection on listings pages. So when I visit again, my listings are filtered for free parking, for example. Very handy – I don’t have to do the legwork twice.

I think it’s worth mentioning the GDPR here. There’s a little message telling me about how cookies are used when I first visit the site. Here’s what it says: “TripAdvisor uses cookies to improve your site experience. Learn more or change your settings. By continuing, you consent to our cookies.”

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.

filters tripadvisor

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).

trip advisor listing

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.

tripadvisor reviews overview

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.

what guests loved most booking.com

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.”

trip advisor reviews

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.

booking.com reviews

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 teh 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?

Econsultancy offers both UX and online merchandising training. For more inspiring case studies, see the Festival of Marketing 2018 agenda and get yourself to East London, October 10-11.