TripAdvisor launches money-back hotel booking site Tingo

Another dip into the world of hotel bookings for TripAdvisor with the launch of Tingo, a new site which automatically refunds users the difference if the price drops.

The new site is being run out of the Smarter Travel Media offshoot from TripAdvisor, the umbrella brand which includes BookingBuddySmarterTravelSeatGuruAirfarewatchdog and

It is the second booking service within the group following the launch of the flash sale brand SniqueAway in the summer of 2010.

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.


Tingo says:

“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.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  4. Kostas Trivizas

    As several of you have identified, possibly hotels will now be forced get behind cheap non flexible (non canvellable etc) rates, big time! The more of these non flex (or semi flex) products/rates are booked the more the opportunity cost will rise; later booked at products – both non flexible and flexible- will have higher prices (unless highly unforseen circumstances..) . If revenue managers will need to drop rates (mostly on the semi or flexible products) later on, before arrival, the idea is that these rates (after drop) will never go below the initial discounted non flexible rates. (that is what most airlines achieve).

    In effect Tingo may (?) become the one force for hoteliers to trully get a grip on their bid prices. Hotels with no RM systems (or with RM systems that dont forecast….as strange as it sounds!) will have a much harder time. This will also force RM systems to enhance the gradient of forecasting error and finally will force many more traditional tour operators – those that have not yet- to contract with resorts etc on the basis of dynamic rates (discounted from BAR); that means that their own systems need to modernise fast. I would nor be surprised if Tingo itself gets to be an investor in RM system cos.

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  8. Dan Wacksman

    Struggling to figure out what their business model is, how do they make money?

    • AutoSlash

      They are partnered with Expedia and make a commission on each booking just like thousands of other sites out there.


      “TINGO’s supplier Travelscape LLC is a registered seller of travel in each of the states listed below:”

      “TINGO’s supplier LP is a registered seller of travel in each of the states listed below:”

      Both Travelscape and EAN are part of Expedia. Since TripAdivsor was owned by Expedia until very recently, this is far from a surprise.

  9. Ranjan Jena

    My doubt here would be, when Tingo says, “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.”.

    For eg., if today i booked a hotel room with Tingo for $100 per day, and after 14 days, the price drops to $80, then $20 to be refunded. But what if, before i check-in the hotel, the price rises; so does it mean, only if the price drops, then it would be considered, but not any increase in price in later dates before check-in.


      Your price will only drop. Each time Tingo finds a lower rate, they just cancel and re-book the original reservation (assuming the customer is still within the cancellation window as specified by the hotel they booked). That’s the reason Tingo says that on each price reduction your cancellation number will change. It works the same way at

      • I Want That Flight

        AutoSlash – I am sorry see that several of your suppliers have objected to the cancel+re-book model. Do you think that Tingo will face the same issues, or will Expedia be able to take the heat for them?

        • AutoSlash

          Thanks, appreciate the sentiment. The position the car rental companies have taken is truly unfortunate, especially for the consumer. Fortunately we have no plans to fold-up and go home. We’re working on a new and improved service that we think will be even more useful to the consumer. Stay tuned…

          As to your question, it’s tough to say. Things working in Tingo’s favor are:

          – The hotel industry is much more fragmented than the car rental industry which is dominated by a handful of major brands

          – The backing of Expedia/EAN which is one of the most powerful companies out there in terms of online travel and hotels

          – The leverage TripAdvisor has with hotels given its core focus on reviews and the business it pushes their way

          I think it really depends on how much the model catches on, and whether or not the major chains perceive it as something that puts pressure on their margins.

  10. Ming


    1. Hotels adopt Everyday pricing (steady low/average) model and reduce price flutuation. This limits the ability to use price as a lever to drive room sales. Perhaps generating need to use/ come up with other marketing levers. i.e. additional cost i.e. lower margin.

    2. Hotels widens product ranges and product price tiers to manage margin and yield. This could potentially be cumbersome to manage i.e. additional cost i.e. lower margin.

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  12. Yannis

    Interesting.. so they cancel and re-book them?.. I guess so.
    All large OTAs – and obviously Expedia – have solid contracts (and automated checking mechanisms) to ensure that hotels offer rates with parity. That means that giving better rates to “others” is not really an easy option. There are always exceptions but I can imagine hoteliers who know what they are doing, will think twice before dropping prices (which one could argue is a BAD thing for consumers in general – not just the hotelier). I can also see this causing a harder focus on non-refundable rates… A very aggressive move – they aren’t making any friends here for sure.

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  14. Rodney

    If you’re a relatively homogenous hotel and you compete on price, let the race to the bottom continue.

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  16. Chiron Emmanuel

    It’s a new way to show that only the ended customer is important for expedia not their fairly partner the Hotel

    at the end Hotel profitability will drop again. forecast is not an exact science and monitoring rates with fluctuating rates was the best opportunity to answer to the question how to acheive the best RevPAR

    If i have the choice I will not lower rate from now on EXPEDIA I prefer not to be in rate parity… partnership is a win-win situation not only one winner…

  17. Patrick Landman

    Patrick Landman

    simple quick fix for hotels, from now on if you find yourself in the position you would need to lower rate, give it to all channels, except for Expedia 😉

    Expedia will get highly unpopular with hotels really fast …

    • Martin Rusteberg

      maybe macquarie should have let their creative juices flow as well prior to their glowing review as patricks fix sounds easily feasable – just give EXPE the rack rate, all other channels BAR…

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      So about the rate parity concept for all our online partners

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    Tingo apparently means “to borrow objects from a friend’s house, one by one, until there’s nothing left”


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