Revelation!  I love it.

I don’t always have stuff hit me, but it hit me today.

So I hadn’t figured out why Tripadvisor’s Restaurant Reviews had recently, so vigorously, taken off.  For those of us in hospitality who are aware of our brands online, it was hard to miss.  It is vital to stay on top of all conversation, reviews, and mentions, and whether through Google Alerts, or a random internet search… you noticed restaurants began to get reviews on Tripadvisor. It’s not really a surprise, and it is a completely natural direction for a travel site like TA.  But, where there wasn’t even an option to review or add restaurants until a couple months ago, the frequency of seeing reviews pop up is gaining momentum. MASSIVE momentum… and it seemed like it had to be larger than the Tripadvisor user base. I really noticed when some of our restaurants were ending up with as many, if not more, reviews than Yelp. I hadn’t been able to figure it out, but when I just added one of our newly opened restaurants to the Tripadvisor database, it used *FACEBOOK CONNECT* to populate the information about the restaurant, meaning the database lives both in Tripadvisor, where people can review it natively from that site, as well as inside Facebook as an application called “Tripadvisor Local Picks”.

Uh oh Yelp.

Yelpers can be attention seekers, but the platform of Facebook is the mecca of ME ME ME. If there is one thing a Facebooker is going to enjoy doing, it’s share their opinion – *ESPECIALLY* to their real live network of people who may be affected (or forewarned) by a review. It is obviously a natural part of networking, community, and connecting.  Oh.. it also vests itself in ego, and the desire to establish equity in social status. Go figure… but it never hurt, that while recommending a nice romantic restaurant to a friend, an ex fling sees your exciting life.  I am certainly not claiming this to be me, but the fact that studies have been done on detecting narcissism through facebook profiles, it’s certainly something that exists.  Here is another article that goes a bit deeper into social media and ego.

This means that, alongside the Tripadvisor user base populating restaurant reviews, we now have unwitting Facebook users contributing content to that database. You have a 400 million person population casually being redirected to Tripadvisor to help add content.  But this content generation is happening *from within Facebook*. This app makes it so that FB users are not leaving the site.  This reinforces the travel industry understanding that we can no longer create community when competing with communities like Facebook.  If Tripadvisor is learning this, and allowing off-site content generation, what do you think of your small community?  You need to congregate where people already exist, and reach out to them where they are online, not where you wish them to be (cue $100,000 website laden with bulky flash and slow load times).

In the meantime, you may have noticed Facebook searches being populated with hotel listings, and other brand names in wider internet searches. If a 400 million user population gets used to searching brand names and businesses for reviews, and information… that is the beginning of some powerful commerce. What’s more, Yelp could quickly become irrelevant under the crushing weight of Facebook’s population eager to add content for Tripadvisor, whether they know what they are doing or not.  It has been suggested that Facebook users don’t always know what they are doing (warning: hilarity ensues. Yes I know I have posted that a couple times.  It is too funny).

The way these two are dancing, I could see a marriage in the future. I think they want to date for a bit, but they might become a bit more popular than some of the other options out there. I am not saying Facebook could acquire Tripadvisor, but I am wondering what Google is going to do now that Yelp is off the table, or if that is something that might be revisited? Facebook and Tripadvisor paired could become a brutal force against Google’s plans, not to mention OTA’s like Expedia.  As for Yelp… they might not even see it coming.  Opentable reviews have already legitimized the review process in a way that Yelp has not been capable of.  Reviewing for friends, family, and network in a Facebook model creates more legitimacy still.

As always, I might be missing something. I know FB Connect works with Yelp in some ways, but I don’t think you can generate content from within a Facebook app?  There is so much to consider, I might be off.  But it’s always fun to watch this stuff develop. As always I promise to keep you posted. =)

About Michael

6 Responses to “Facebook & TripAdvisor; an issue for Google or Yelp?”

  1. Mike Redbord

    Another TA masterstroke for content and SEO. Pretty brilliant, frankly: give up control to win at content in an already oversaturated marketplace. This could easily explain why TA has been showing up more and more in restaurant searches, beyond their normal SEO skill.

    TA spells out their FB sell in 1, 2, 3 here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/TripFriends

  2. Ryan Miller

    As a member of the TA tech team, I’m glad you like our work, but I just thought I’d point out that we’re already wholly owned by Expedia, and have been for years.

  3. Michael Hraba

    Since then, in conversations since that post… I was reminded of that. It’s something I likely new… forgot… and then *wham* it’s like being hit by obviousness. As if there weren’t enough bad bloggers out there – I totally didn’t update this. Which you just did. Thank you so much. =)

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