TripAdvisor launches money-back hotel booking site Tingo
The way the new site works is by guaranteeing if a room price drops post-booking, then Tingo will secure the room again for the consumer at the lower price and refund the difference.
Hotel content is being brought into the system from the Expedia Affiliate Network, but uses its own customer service team for customer queries.
“When we say ‘automatic’, we mean it. There are no forms to fill out to get your Money Back refund and you don’t have to do any research—in short, you don’t have to do any work.
“We’ll email you each time your price drops and we’ll send your Money Back to your credit card within a few days of check out.”
The company reckons travellers in the US could have saved over $300 million during 2011 if such a service had existed before now.
To demonstrate that price fluctuations do exist and are commonplace in the sector, Tingo says almost 500 hotels in Paris have seen prices drop in the past 30 days. There just over 200 in New York and 270 in London over the same period.
The launch of the service is already raising the eyebrows of some observers.
In a note to investors, Macquarie Equities Research says:
“We view the launch of Tingo as TRIP [TripAdvisor] further diversifying its business model with transaction-based business (versus its core advertising-supported travel reviews model).
“It’s too early to say whether Tingo will gain meaningful share of the $300bn global hotel market, but we’d expect the simplicity of Tingo’s value proposition to resonate with consumers (in our view, the reduced friction of receiving refunds when using Tingo will be its primary selling point).
“If Tingo does gain traction with consumers, we do see potential for some competitive issues, both in terms of competing OTAs promoting similar features as well as potential conflicts of interest for TripAdvisor’s core advertising business (whose largest clients include the major hotel booking sites such as PCLN [Priceline], EXPE [Expedia], OWW [Orbitz]).”
Of course, being a sister brand to TripAdvisor, user reviews and photos from the mothership are included on all hotel pages on Tingo.
At present, Tingo is only featuring prices in US currency.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.