Will Facebook reviews trip up TripAdvisor?

Remember the scene in the movie “Jurassic Park” where a glass of water vibrates with each step of an approaching T-Rex? Well, TripAdvisor’s once-placid waters have begun to ripple thanks to the review world’s apex predator: Facebook.

In the past year or so, you might have noticed Facebook making user reviews a more prominent feature of business pages. Last November, it began testing 5-star ratings. And in January, it rolled out changes that allowed hotels to publicly respond to customer reviews. In other words, Facebook Reviews have begun to more closely mirror TripAdvisor’s. Facebook has even started testing a “Was this helpful?” button, a key feature of the review-ranking systems popularized by TripAdvisor and Yelp.

Since so many people frequently log on to Facebook, it has a leg up in terms of convenience. Why go to a hotel-specific site, create an account and post a review when you can simply share feedback where you’re already voluntarily spending your time? Moreover, a significant percentage of new reviews on TripAdvisor are posted via Facebook-connected accounts. The former’s mass adoption was due in large part to the convenience provided by the latter.

With a massive, active user base (more than 800 million daily users), Facebook has the potential to seriously threaten TripAdvisor and other niche review sites. That’s before even mentioning mobile, where Facebook’s 600 million daily mobile users far exceeds TripAdvisor’s 100 million total app downloads.

On the other hand, if users are looking for detailed reports on hotel stays from experienced reviewers with credentials, they may find a more thorough account on TripAdvisor. And hotels catering to a certain clientele may prefer TripAdvisor for the same reason.

It is clear Facebook has the tools and the popularity to overtake TripAdvisor along with its competitors. We can only wait and see how the stars will align.