TripAdvisor just got sexy!

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So the race is on.

Will Google's new Hotel Finder or TripAdvisor's recently upgraded rate comparison metasearch be the ultimate travel search and book website?

In my humble opinion, TripAdvisor's is certainly the current winner. Their new functionality is just damn sexy and makes the customer experience enjoyable while giving the confidence to book appropriately.

Why I love it

TripAdvisor offers superior functionality that allows you to search not only on existing customer reviews but also on price and type of travel, for example business travel, family or romance.

And then it gets even better and makes the experience personal with their integrated TripAdvisor Friends functionality. Throughout your search it allows you to see if any of your Facebook friends have visited the destination and accommodation. A recommendation from a friend is the booking 'golden ticket' and worth ten reviews from people you don't know.

Another reason for my current TripAdvisor infatuation is because in New Zealand, we love staying in holiday homes, and this new functionality includes holiday rentals listed on FlipKey.

"We can do it too!"

TripAdvisor has taken a leaf out of Google's book and is offering properties the option of pay-per-click advertising around rate comparison. With TripAdvisor being the number one travel website in the world, it will be interesting to watch where properties will be spending their online dollars in the future.

The downside

Small operators who are not distributing on OTAs (online travel agents like Booking.com and Expedia) could potentially be left behind.

Both Google Hotel Finder and TripAdvisor's meta search functionality pull the rates and availability from OTAs. Many small properties can't afford or still haven't come to terms with the need for an online booking system and Channel Management. This may see their online bookings drop as bookings are being driven to properties that distribute on OTAs.

The winners

So as Google and TripAdvisor battle each other to create the best customer experience it ultimately means the winners are the travellers. They benefit from better functionality, more relevant and personal data enabling them (us) to book with the assurance that they got the price, quality and style desired to ensure a great holiday.

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