Today, online consumer reviews have become a vital source of information for customers. When it comes to travel, many people like to plan their trip, search for vacation ideas for families, and get inspiration online. As a result, there is now a vast array of review websites and social media platforms dedicated to users who travel, read and generate comments, creating what is referred to as ‘Travel 2.0’. One such example is TripAdvisor.
Founded in 2000 by Stephen Kaufer and Langley Steinert, TripAdvisor is the largest travel website and opinion aggregator, helping 463 million travelers each month to plan and book the perfect trip. With more than 859 million reviews as of year-end 2019 and an average of 390 million monthly unique visitors, TripAdvisor allows users to post reviews, compare prices on hotels, flights or cruises, find vacation ideas, and book accommodation through seamless links to other online travel agencies. Since its launch, the platform has revolutionized the travel industry, becoming so influential that many believe it is outgrowing other sources of knowledge about travel and making traditional hotel accreditation schemes superfluous.
With plenty of information about the nature and quality of the service provided, prices and brand names are no longer the sole indicators of quality. This encourages business to differentiate themselves and compete on a more equal footing. At the same time, travelers are more informed about the quality of travel-related products and services such as hotels, tours, airlines or restaurants
In addition to offline word-of-mouth, consumers’ decision-making process is increasingly influenced by online communities. The unbiased reviews featured on TripAdvisor can increase users’ trust in the information provided.
From a vast array of accommodation types to vacation ideas for families, TripAdvisor is a one-stop-shop for travel research. For virtually every place, a corresponding page exists.
Users can easily compare various options on their own terms. For example, if you are looking for vacation ideas for families, you can filter information based on price, amenities, rating, style or other criteria.
TripAdvisor offers seamless links to other online travel agencies or property websites, helping the customers book easily with only a few clicks.
Business model – How does Trip Advisor Make Money?
The company started with a completely different business model in mind than the current one. More specifically, the founders wanted to build a database of travel information and provide a white level search engine for online travel websites such as Expedia or Booking.com. The sole way of making money was through online advertisements
After realizing that the company could not break even, the founders switched to a cost-per-click model. Every time someone clicked on a hotel to book a room, TripAdvisor charged a certain amount to the hotel. Three months after launching this new business model, the firm started earning a monthly revenue of $70,000 and achieved breakeven. Today, the company has four major revenue streams:
- Click-based Advertising – Accommodation providers pay the company according to the number of clicks that have been made in a given time period
- Display Advertising – Travel-related content from other companies is featured on their website in the form of banners or other shape ads
- Subscription-Based Revenue – Businesses can pay TripAdvisor to be featured on their website and gain a larger exposure
- Affiliate Model – The company’s affiliate program allows other businesses to leverage the TripAdvisor brand in order to increase their revenue streams.
From a Business-to-Business (B2B) perspective, TripAdvisor offers a range of marketing tools for hospitality businesses. Below you can find a list of the free features available:
- Showcase your reviews on your Facebook page
- TripAdvisor Social media Buttons
- Add a widget to display your trip advisor awards and reviews on your website
- Get a TripAdvisor sticker for your property
Accommodation and restaurants providers can also increase their conversion and gain more visibility with additional paid tools:
- Business Advantage: access to analytics and exclusive marketing tools, as well as the ability to connect with travellers directly
- Instant Booking: Travelers can click on the ‘Book on Tripadvisor’ button and reserve the hotel directly from the website
- Sponsored Placements: Accommodation providers can pay to make their listings appear on top of the search results page.
Vacation Ideas for Families
Assuming that you are a consumer looking for vacation ideas for families, with the help of TripAdvisor, you can plan and book the perfect trip. Their website offers a range of family-friendly vacation spots. If you click on any of the pictures, the website redirects you to a page with all the properties in the area.
With an ever-growing number of contributors who leave reviews and comments for free, information is constantly updated about every imaginable element of your perfect family-friendly vacation.
Browsing through all the options may be impossible. This is why TripAdvisor lets you sort the listings according to criteria that suit your needs. For example, here is a list of all the available amenities that you can choose from.
Alternatively, you can search for ‘vacation ideas for families’ directly on their website, select the desired location, and start browsing. At the end of your trip, you can also leave a review for future travelers.
A first concern is that it is extremely hard to fairly compare the widely diverse opinions from travelers with different expectations. Thus, when planning a trip, objectively evaluating a place may become challenging
With the ‘reputation economy’ growing, the industry of fake reviews is also flourishing. Fake reviews can now be bought, sold or traded, a significant threat for TripAdvisor’s core offering. Additionally, competitors can always find their way to create false accounts and comment on another firm’s page. Dissatisfied travelers may also use TripAdvisor to defame a brand and broadcast their bad experiences, sometimes posting compromised or fake photographs.
As TripAdvisor’s business model depends on having genuine reviews from real people, the company is constantly fighting to ensure maximum accuracy. In doing this, TripAdvisor, like many other tech companies, has now found itself in the position of an arbiter of truth, having to determine which of these reviews are real and how free speech should be defined. Thinking retrospectively, one of the company’s first mottos can now be perceived quite comically: ‘Get the truth and go’
TripAdvisor is a great platform where you can go praise, critique, or plan your next holiday. It is, at its core, a guestbook, a place where you can record your holiday experience to help future guests and service providers improve their offerings. With the help of this online guestbook, people can now exchange advice, memories, and complaints and ultimately, make the most informed choices when it comes to travel.