It appear that Apple, at least in the hotel world, is testing the use of reviews beyond their traditional partner Yelp.
AppleInsider reported this morning the appearance of reviews from TripAdvisor and Booking.com on a limited number of hotel listings within Apple Maps.
It makes sense that Apple would expand their review partnership beyond Yelp. While Yelp has a great many reviews in restaurants, their presence in hotels is not as expansive as either booking.com or TripAdvisor.
What is not clear is if this a test or a final solution. There are, more questions than answers. It is an option for certain hotel chains, will TA reviews will just be used on hotels and will, at some point in the future, multiple review sources show?
This does though show how Apple, unlike Google, will partner with market leaders rather than trying to either take the reviews unbidden and not compete directly by trying to do it themselves. Its not that they wouldn’t do it themselves if it becomes necessary or beneficial to do so, its just not the default setting.
If you have Apple Maps on your desktop this link will take you to an example.
Greg Sterling has good coverage of this move vis a vis international searches and notes that TA and booking.com are predominantly visible outside the US. He notes:
A search for “restaurants, Prague” or “restaurants, Mexico City” show Yelp results, while restaurant searches in most European capitals show TripAdvisor content. It’s not clear whether Yelp is simply better in these cities or whether Apple hasn’t yet gotten around to replacing the Yelp content.
It goes on: a search for “hotels, Vienna Austria” displays reviews from Booking.com while “museums, Vienna Austria” continues to show Yelp results.
Yelp has good European restaurant reviews coverage. However in a majority of cases Apple appears to have entirely replaced them with TripAdvisor reviews. Yet TripAdvisor probably has more comprehensive and better hotel reviews coverage than Booking.com. It strikes me as odd that Apple would use Booking.com instead of TripAdvisor for hotel reviews — unless the capacity to book directly through the latter is being valued. (TripAdvisor is predominantly a lead-gen site for other booking services.)
TripAdvisor has always been important to hotel operators but now it must become a new focus for restaurants outside the US (if it wasn’t already). And Booking.com gains new prominence among hotel review sites.