Why Travel Bloggers Should Avoid Trivago

| | Making Money

Every blogger gets them – emails requesting advertising of some sort. Some bloggers accept advertising, while others don’t, but we all get the emails.

And so it was that I got an email from Louis from Trivago in mid-August, requesting a sidebar widget on my blog. After a bit of negotiation over the price, we agreed to an amount and he sent over the contract.

And that’s when I got my first inkling that this company was… odd.

trivago

I’ve run a few ads on my site before, but have never, ever, had the stipulation that I would have to pay them back in the event that my PR drops. I wrote back to question that and told him I was very uncomfortable with that stipulation.

I got this in response:

trivago

In the end, I decided I wasn’t willing to live with their stipulations, and they weren’t willing to drop them, so I walked away. I figured I was done with Trivago at that point.

Second Attempt

Louis then came back and asked about a sponsored post: would I be willing to write a post and link to the company? He felt I would feel comfortable with that because “there is no Page Rank condition in the contract for a permanent link.”

I negotiated with him a bit on this one, but somehow managed to overlook the “permanent” part of what he said. I wrote the post and sent him a copy before I posted it to make sure he was okay with what I wrote. I also requested the contract in advance to make sure there was nothing in there I couldn’t live with.

I will accept full responsibility for the failure of this particular negotiation. When I read through the contract and noticed it said a permanent link, I went back and read through the emails. He had been clear about requesting a permanent link the whole time and I had somehow overlooked it.

I wrote back and asked if we could remove the permanent terminology from the contract, as there was no way I could commit to forever.

trivago

I ended up deleting their link entirely. I, once again, thought I was done.

Third Attempt

I should have walked away, but then he came back again.

trivago

After quite a few back-and-forth emails, we finally settled on the following:

trivago

I was fine with the terminology of “as long as possible,” which I would choose to interpret as one year. I thought everything was set. I wrote the article, posted it, and sent Louis an email saying the post was live.

Getting Payment

He didn’t respond.

By now, we had been corresponding for 2.5 months. I knew Louis tended to take two or three days to respond to my emails, but this time, eight days went by before I sent another email.

He finally responded, politely apologizing that he had been out of the office. He attached the contract to the email.

promptly completed the contract and sent it back. By this point, the post had been live for eight days.

Trivago had been very clear and up-front about the fact that they take 21 days to process payment. I wasn’t sure if that was 21 days from when the post went live, or 21 days from when the contracted was submitted. I waited.

I will take responsibility for not following up as quickly as I should have, but I waited 25 days after the contract was turned in (33 days from when the post went live) to write back, once again, asking what was happening.

Louis wrote back promptly. “I sincerely apologize but there seems to be delays the financial department due to various reasons. I told them to place your invoice on a higher priority which should make the payment process go faster.”

36 days after my post went live, I wrote asking to speak to a supervisor.

39 days after it went live, I finally received payment. It had taken four months of negotiation to finally reach that point.

I write this post for one reason: to warn other bloggers about entering into negotiations with Trivago. For some reason, Trivago wants to limit the number of links we can have in our blogs. They also demand repayment if our PR drops – something beyond our control as bloggers.

I’ve dealt with many other companies in the past five years since my blog went live, and I’ve never seen the demands Trivago expects. My personal opinion is that their demands are unreasonable and they are taking advantage of bloggers who don’t know to ask the right questions.

My hope is that, by putting this out there, that the Trivago management will find out what their reps are doing. I have no doubt that Trivago is only trying to grow their business, but they are shooting themselves in the foot with the way they treat bloggers.

A note to Trivago management: We bloggers do want to work with you. We only ask that you streamline your process and make your demands more in line with what is expected by other companies.

Nancy Sathre-Vogel is a long-time schoolteacher who quit her job to spend three years cycling from Alaska to Argentina with her husband and children. Now she lives in Idaho, writing books and blogging to inspire others to pursue their passion and live their dream.

Have you worked with Trivago? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments below.


Recent Comments

  • I wouldn’t leave this giant “come bring down my pagerank some more” flag up for Big Brother to see and act on. Opening selling paid links isn’t looked on too kindly.

    I did a large deal with Trivago that was straight advertising (different contact) and had no issues except some wire transfers getting stuck in transit from Europe. They’re getting bought by Expedia anyway…

  • Trivago tried to place a “widget” on my site that on closer inspection was actually about 5 embedded do-follow links. I declined, and I’ve heard dozens of complaints and horror stories about their practices, so I’m glad I passed.

  • I had a pretty bad experience as well.

    They provided me 7 links I could use and gave me one saying exactly this:
    “Find affordable, low cost hotel in (name of the city ) ,”
    Giving me the opportunity to put in my own city. So I spent a few hours of a good article put in the link. They didn’t like the city I was featuring which was Charleston. Never did they mention anything about which cities to use.

    Before this, I had to argue this part of the email
    “I have a few requirements for our link. First of all it has to look naturally integrated. It shouldn’t look like a paid link. And secondly the article has to stay on the homepage for a couple of months.”
    An article on the front page for a couple of months? Do they realize how blogs work? Fought this one out and was able to get it down to two weeks.

    After sending the article in an email before it was published because I knew they’d give me a hard time, they said this.

    “Honestly I don’t like the way our link would look like. It wouldn’t look like naturally integrated and we are not optimizing Charleston at this point .

    Here is what I suggest. Why don’t you write a new paragraph where you write about online hotel search engines, the benefits of booking hotel online and you recommending our site using the keywords I already sent you.”

    Why would I recommend Trivago? I’ve never used it and my audience doesn’t care. They would be paying me to recommend a service I’ve never used. And seriously? The benefits of online hotel search engines?

    In the end I backed out and an agreement was not met.

    • All good points, but if you’re convinced your audience wouldn’t care, then why did you even consider working with Trivago in the first place? Why would you consider putting links in articles that are of no use to your audience??

  • I am so glad to read this. I was approached about placing a widget on my site and despite not really knowing much about blog advertising, was thinking of going for it. Having read this, I can see working with them is going to be a headache I’m not ready for! Luckily, they closed their offices for the holidays so we didn’t get very far in the back and forth.

  • I’d be careful about posting stories like this publicly – buying and selling links which pass juice (i.e. are not nofollowed) is well against Google’s webmaster guidelines; in the past, both sellers and buyers have been penalized for doing this – everything from manual penalties (buyers – http://www.seroundtable.com/google-chrome-penalty-14543.html ; sellers – http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/why-did-my-pagerank-go-down/ ), to huge scale algorithmic penalties against spammy linking behavior (see Penguin).

    If this case were to be manually investigated, trivago would definitely come out worse off, but you’d also get a black mark for openly admitting that you’re selling links which pass pagerank.

  • Nancy, I think you should remove this post, as I wouldn’t want to make any deals with you if I would be advertiser. From my point of view I treat all emails as confidential correspondence and you publicize everything.
    Thought it was interesting to see rates for PR5 blog 🙂

  • Hi,

    As far as I am concerned, I would say that if a company makes a payment and they are committed to what the contract says : i am fine with it.
    If there is a delay in payment, this can happen and it is not a very big thing to mourn about as we are all humans and we also consume time to put things together.

    Apart from it, the blogger community should ask about the contract terms first hand. I do that. I just don’t go nuts when an offer is made and like greedy scums just grab it.

    In nut shell, I am fine with them and any other company. This is how it goes in this world!!!

  • Hi Nancy,

    Louis got fired. So give it a rest!

    a concerned mom

  • Again, hi Nancy,

    and for your orientation, Nancy….Louis was a 21 year old college student at Trivago, working part time/15hrs a week, doing designated SEO at 8€/hour with possible bonus for completion.

    a concerned mom

    • That’s a shame that Louis was fired but also a shame that Trivago clearly did not train their staff well and let them take the fall when there are customer service issues.

      • I think Luis was very professional and replied frankly to all your concerns. The fact that you did not proof read the contract and didn’t ask or wanted to understand its conditions is entirely your fault. He even worked out some exception for you with the payment being late.
        Finally the fact that you took their deal and complained about the money being late shows how unprofessional and personal you are about an issue that had nothing to do with him. Are you slandered in the states for not paying your bills on time. Yeah you can get a penalty, but it’s not like you did get the money for a service you did daily for 39 days. You got paid for a year deal including the days you mention. Ask them for more compensations or whatever. Publishing his emails and slandering him personally was the worse thing you could do. If Trivago was so unethical why did you accept their offer? You don’t advice other bloggers to be aware of Trivago, you just give a bad example of business ethics. I’m sure nobody would want to work with you after this and any bloggers that will follow your example will suffer in the long term

        And to all your fellow bloggers readers that say how bad i is to buy links and how much Trivago sucks for doing it, spare me the talk. You DO IT of a living! You are the ones sustaining this ecosystems. Call if advertorial, special project, eventually you are selling links on you blog.
        The only one that had any sense was Katrina up to a point. Trivago is better at what they do (hotel search) than everybody else because the are methodical and fair, maybe being German also helps. Just because other companies are stupid enough to give you contracts that benefit you more than them doesn’t make it a standard. It’s diligence and fairness to protect their investment against you guys deleting the link after you get your money (something that Nancy admitted that she in her second deal)

        I hope that his mom gave you the creeps and this Karma comes around your way. If I were you I would sent Luis the money you received for his good work/intentions and the fact that you got him fired. Shame on you! Hope your kids have a better role model than you for work ethics.

        P.S For all you grammar Nazis, combat my arguments not my grammar, I’m not an English native.

  • I’m glad you posted this. I think it’s important not to be afraid to tell the truth about shady dealing. Google also knows that advertising is part of the online economy. One of the reasons that Google doesn’t want you mucking with PR is because it interferes with quality search results; another reason, however, is because Google makes money off selling links. Google’s rules are all about benefiting Google – they should not be taken as altruistic gospel. The trick is not to try and game PR with a bunch of spammy garbage. I turn down far more advertisers than I accept for that reason – and because I don’t want to annoy my readers.

    And for Concerned Mom – every Trivago rep I have spoken with has tried the same garbage with me. Nancy used Louis’s name because he was the one she spoke with; he’s just a convenient face for a pervasive problem. If he got fired, he should consider himself lucky. Now he’s free to seek work at a place that is more ethical and professional.

  • Great informative post, really learnt a lot from this article! I will make sure to avoid trivago in the future

  • Hi Nancy, again,

    today is January 26th after your post of January 2nd. First you were very loud, now you turned very quiet.

    I noticed that you are also a mother of kids which one day in college years might have to fund their studies by employers from Trivago to McDonald’s and the whole broadband inbetween. They certainly don’t need moms like you to go after them, not understanding to differentiate between corporations and college kids.
    You certainly got Louis fired. Well done!

    a concerned mom

    • It’s unfortunate that Louis got fired but you have to understand this isn’t a personal attack on Louis. This is an attack on the company Trivago. I don’t know the backstory but I find it unprofessional that Trivago has blamed Louis for what seems like all of their employees are doing. Take a look what Steph and Katrina commented as I think they made some good points.

    • I’m with Michael – this wasn’t about Louis in any way, shape, or form. This was about Trivago and their policies. Although I dealt with Louis, I have heard identical stories about many other reps. The problem was never with Louis, but with the policies of the company he worked for.

  • Oh Concerned Mom,

    You are sounding more and more like a Fake-O from TrivagO. Which I don’t doubt you are anyway.

    • Hey Marlys,

      sure, you just added insult to injury, come to my world and I will explain to you why us mothers defend our kids and families.

      a concerned mom

      • Hello Concerned Mom. There’s a difference between being a mom and knowing right from wrong. Pay attention to the ethical issues with the company rather than being selfish. Notice in this thread of 17 comments and hundreds of comments on Facebook groups concerning the company’s issues that it’s not about your kid. If your son is serious about his future, working at Trivago is not the right way to go.

      • Hy Michael,

        I don’t know how you can be so blind sighted. This is putting more bad light on Nancy than on Trivago. This whole post shows that she doesn’t understand contracting. She saw everything upfront but she was not able /wanted to understand the contract purpose (the permanent link part) All she did was complaining about a late payment. She made the negotiation last 4 months by being clumsy. She finally understood the contract and took the deal. Trivago did everything right but being late on this part, but she admits that she was late 25 days contacting Luis again. If after 39 days she got her money back, 14 days to solve her claim was good enough for a corporation as big as trivago.
        This whole post shows her lack of understanding of business world, not trivago’s incompetence.

  • Hey all you people,

    there is no point to this conversation no longer. You seem to think you are righteous and great and Louis was just collateral damage.

    a concerned mom

    • To be honest, I’d be quite embarrassed if my mom would post all these comments because I had lost a job. You’re an adult with 21. People lose jobs. Most people don’t work at the same employer for their entire working life, esp. not with 21.

  • I appreciate articles like these that help give guidance to bloggers who may be newly-made entrepreneurs and don’t understand the negotiation process or some of the faulty practices out there with companies. I feel like it unionizes the (travel) blogosphere and can be used constructively to put in place some best practices. I do believe more companies will ask publishers to sign NDAs in the near future. I’ve already seen this.

  • I think Luis was very professional and replied frankly to all your concerns. The fact that you did not proof read the contract and didn’t ask or wanted to understand its conditions is entirely your fault. He even worked out some exception for you with the payment being late.
    Finally the fact that you took their deal and complained about the money being late shows how unprofessional and personal you are about an issue that had nothing to do with him. Are you slandered in the states for not paying your bills on time. Yeah you can get a penalty, but it’s not like you did get the money for a service you did daily for 39 days. You got paid for a year deal including the days you mention. Ask them for more compensations or whatever. Publishing his emails and slandering him personally was the worse thing you could do. If Trivago was so unethical why did you accept their offer? You don’t advice other bloggers to be aware of Trivago, you just give a bad example of business ethics. I’m sure nobody would want to work with you after this and any bloggers that will follow your example will suffer in the long term

    And to all your fellow bloggers readers that say how bad i is to buy links and how much Trivago sucks for doing it, spare me the talk. You DO IT of a living! You are the ones sustaining this ecosystems. Call if advertorial, special project, eventually you are selling links on you blog.
    The only one that had any sense was Katrina up to a point. Trivago is better at what they do (hotel search) than everybody else because the are methodical and fair, maybe being German also helps. Just because other companies are stupid enough to give you contracts that benefit you more than them doesn’t make it a standard. It’s diligence and fairness to protect their investment against you guys deleting the link after you get your money (something that Nancy admitted that she in her second deal)

    I hope that his mom gave you the creeps and this Karma comes around your way. If I were you I would sent Luis the money you received for his good work/intentions and the fact that you got him fired. Shame on you! Hope your kids have a better role model than you for work ethics.

    P.S For all you grammar Nazis, combat my arguments not my grammar, I’m not an English native.

    Sorry for repeating myself, I am not spamming, but I realized that I wrote the comment in the wrong thread.

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  • I just need to know if you have permission to reprint the private email transmissions

  • Tivago creeps me the hell out…

    Sure the chick in the commercial is prissy and pretentious… but the fat pig who is stalking her is fuggin creepy as hell…

    Creepy glances while he lubes himself up.. then he positions himself in the water with his floaties so he has a nice crotch shot of the hot chick is also creepy… while he again has creepy glare at her…

    This is a fucking nasty commercial… sure they may get you a deal if you are lucky.. but promoting stalkers creeping on chicks is bloody stupid!!!

  • I’ve heard Trivago are terrible to work with from many bloggers with similar stories. They need to sort their act out.

    But, do you think they could do anything if you didn’t pay them any residual fee back? And do you think they ever check your PR at a later date? Unlikely I think.

    Anyway, added to the ‘avoid’ list.

    • Thankfulness to my father who shared with me concerning this
      website, this blog is truly amazing.

  • This whole industry is a scam. They are creating a middleman position where none is required. I scan them for information and call the hotels direct.

    I saved 10 dollars once but lots out on free parking, a free continental breakfast and free wifi. Not much of a deal.

  • Tried to find a pet friendly room on trivago. Kept getting hotels that did not allow pets.

  • This is all very simple, I will never use Trivago to research any prices for anything, let alone book something! There is no point letting them advertise on your site because I will just avoid your site all together as will many others. There are so many better sites to use than Trivago, my favorites are still Tripadvisor, Kayak and Expedia.

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