- TripAdvisor has added a new subscription service, called TripAdvisor Wi-Fi Plus, that allows restaurants to offer customers the ability to opt in to receive free Wi-Fi in exchange for their contact information, according to a press release.
- Restaurant operators can use this information to connect with their customers and encourage them to leave reviews about their dining experience on TripAdvisor's website.
- Stores that use this service will be able to create automated email marketing messages to customers who opt in to the Wi-Fi.
TripAdvisor claims that offering customers access to free Wi-Fi will drive more business and so,me studies have backed this up. According to Windstream Enterprise, for example, Wi-Fi leads the top technologies that have affected the dining experience positively across all age groups. That same study found restaurant customers often take guest Wi-Fi into consideration when choosing where they want to eat, and 65% say it is a must-have at quick-service restaurants.
TripAdvisor's new offering could make it easier for restaurants to meet these growing expectations. The company also claims that restaurants will benefit from positive reviews. In the press release, Evan Becker, head of key accounts for TripAdvisor Restaurants, said the "vast majority of reviews" on the site are positive, so asking guests to share their restaurant experience on TripAdvisor drives ratings, he said.
With an average of 417 million monthly unique visitors, TripAdvisor has a vast network of potential customers who may be intrigued by such positive reviews. A survey by ReviewTrackers revealed that nearly 56% of customers view online reviews as influential when choosing a restaurant.
Still, perhaps the biggest benefit from this offering may come with TripAdvisor's added automated email marketing messages, targeted to customers willing to offer their information in exchange for the service. Wi-Fi Plus allows operators to create automated, personalized email marketing messages, such as wishing diners a happy birthday. This is a big deal for restaurant owners, typically familiar with food and service, but less so with technology and marketing.
This type of service isn't necessarily new in the space. Yelp launched its Turnstyle service two years ago, evolving that service into Yelp WiFi. According to Yelp, approximately 77 million unique visitors visited Yelp via mobile web, 62 million visited Yelp via desktop and 37 million users visited Yelp via its app on a monthly average. Yelp also provides turnkey marketing support with its service. The difference between Yelp and TripAdvisor, however, is hundreds of millions of unique visitors.
According to new research from Acquia, 65% of customers said they would stop using a brand that wasn't transparent about how it was using their data. In other words, by simply offering an opt-in function for customers to share their information, both Yelp and TripAdvisor will be at an advantage here.