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Did you ever visit a hotel’s website and see something on their homepage that led you to say to yourself “Self, what the h.ll were they thinking about when they made that decision?”

That’s what happened today while conducting a search for a particular hotel, landed on their homepage, and noticed that little TripAdvisor owl icon displayed prominently between two of the hotel’s calls-to-action.

I clicked on the icon and guess what happened.  Your right, I was immediately transferred from the hotel’s website and delivered to the TripAdvisor page that displayed the hotel’s reviews.  Advantage TripAdvisor.

OK so your saying what’s the big deal!

One, this and every hotel that battles and pays to get prospective customers to their site lost this prospective customer in a matter of less than 10 seconds.  If the hotel spent hard-earned money and their e-Commerce team achieved their goal to get the hotel to rank in the top third of the search return then why risk this sort of “marketing strategy” that sends prospective customers to a competitor’s site?  Advantage TripAdvisor

Two, and this is even more confusing, guess what caught my attention while on the TripAdvisor site?  Your answer doesn’t count because you’ve done this before.  For those of you that haven’t I had the option to book that very same hotel, after I read their stellar reviews, with seven different OTAs.  Yes, Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, Venere, Priceline, Travelocity, and Orbitz.  Advantage TripAdvisor and OTAs

Now, why would a hotel spend time and money to get me to their site then turn around and send me to a competitor’s site that could potentially cost that very same hotel eight times the transaction cost as compared to a direct booking on the hotel’s website?

Now I’m totally confused!

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.

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