TRIP
3 weeks ago
 

TripAdvisor relaunch focuses on price, consistency and user experience

TripAdvisor has timed its confirmation of a relaunch and redesign with its first quarter earnings and is planning to spend $70-$80 million this year on the first phase of a TV brand campaign.

In his prepared remarks, CEO Steve Kaufer said:

“In a few weeks, we are excited to launch a simplified, more engaging hotel shopping experience, including a cleaner interface and a significant emphasis on helping users find and book the best hotels at the lowest  prices.”

TripAdvisor’s senior vice president for product Adam Medros talked through the process of the redesign in a briefing before the earnings came out.

The numbers in the earnings appear mixed – revenues for the quarter were up 6% at $372 million with a net income of $13 million, down 55%, both missing expectations.Having said that, shares in

Having said that, shares in after hours trading jumped by around 6%.

This hike in the share price is widely attributed to some strong growth figures. Transaction revenue per hotel shopper number were up 2% while non-hotel revenues grew by 18%.

The simplified and consistent website is intended to monetize more effectively TripAdvisor’s 368 million average monthly unique visitors.

The new look and functions are being driven by the business’s belief that it is “a competitor of one” and is uniquely positioned “to bring all the pieces together – research and planning, the price comparison, the booking and then the trip itself,” Medros noted.

In practical terms, this has prompted a “reweighting” and “de-emphasising” of certain familiar features, but hotels still dominate because “consumers anchor their trip on the hotel and build around it”.

Price becomes even more prominent, although there is an emphasis on finding the right hotel for the customer as much as the actual cost.

In order to free up screen real estate to give the price more space on the screen, the reviews of the hotel are based around snippets.

Its thinking is that at this stage users do not need to be told that TripAdvisor has detailed reviews and will find them if they want them.

“We are prioritising our ‘best value index’ in the new design,” he said, “because it is smart, more intelligence and learns about the traveller from their previous interactions. A one-size-fits-all sort doesn’t work.”

The team were insistent that, when it comes to the actual booking, it is “agnostic” about whether the user converts via Instant Booking or via a metasearch or OTA partner.

Medros said that instant booking remained an important channel because it worked well on mobile, remembering that half of its traffic is coming through mobile.

Mobile also makes TripAdvisor the perfect travel companion for use in-resort. The financials talked about non-hotel businesses – vacation rentals, attractions, restaurant – “driving higher monetisation on its platform.”

Other new feature of the redesign which reflects its aim to be an in-resort companion is a MyTrips feature, which stores the user’s searches. Jeff Chow, vice president of product, customer experience at TripAdvisor, hinted that this was one of the biggest engineering challenges.

“Travel is the hardest vertical to personalize, because every trip is different. If you’re visiting New York for the fifth time, and we recommend the Statue of Liberty rather than somewhere off the beaten track, we’re probably doing something wrong.

“We’re using keyword signals and machine learning to build up the insights so we can get this context right.”

While there is a lot in the redesign which is complicated, requiring “the engine to be taken apart and rebuilt”, there are some fairly basic improvements as well.

The calendar search function is consistent across product channels, while the interface for hotel search and vacation rental search is now the same.

 

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Martin Cowen

About the Writer :: Martin Cowen

Martin Cowen is contributing editor for Tnooz and is based in the UK. Besides reporting and editing, he also oversees our sponsored content initiative and works directly with clients to produce articles and reports.

For the past several years he has worked as a freelance writer, specialising in B2B distribution and technology.

Before freelancing, from 2000-2008, he was launch editor for e-tid.com, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.

 

Comments

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  1. Sheryl Garrett

    As an owner of a lodging establishment who has advertised on Trip Advisor for nearly 4 years, the “upgrade” they made to their system about 2 months ago, has been an absolute nightmare!!!!! With every call they assured us that the problem was fixed.

    We’ve been on the phone with them 5 times in the last few weeks for DOUBLE BOOKINGS. Yes, it could happen to YOU!!! They are no longer sending owner operators the guest’s confirmation when a guest accepts a quote, so we don’t know there’s a booking without reconciling with their calendar system daily.

    They don’t want anyone using competitive booking sites, which we do, because of their new “control” feature that sends auto-responses to a customer, but nothing to the owner operators. The only way we could use TA without having DOUBLE BOOKINGS is to ONLY use their “service”. That’s not going to happen.

    As a guest, I wouldn’t book through TA simply because of the cost. I can find an better deal without paying their high fees. This service is becoming a commodity. Also, more and more of our business is coming from their competitors. TA is becoming obsolete for us. Thousands of dollars per year from our little establishment is going away. We are about to terminate due to TA hurting our reputation.

    Folks this company charges owners and guests for bookings. Once a guest stays with us, they contact us directly from then on, to save on this unnecessary costs. All of our guests learn this lesson.

    Bottom line, publicly traded company, I’m very tempted to short their stock. They blame owners for their system problems, overcharge customers and owners, the competition is getting extremely aggressive. Pricing will have to come down substantially. That’s never good for earnings. TA needs to get it’s act together asap!

    Watch out for double bookings and overcharges…They can’t figure out how to apply discounts on specials.

    You will get a better deal on price by avoiding TA.

     
  2. Renee

    “Helping users find and book the best hotels at the lowest prices” sound like a nice copy of the mission of another player on the market “be the traveler’s first and independent source of information for finding the ideal hotel at the lowest rate.”
    TA trying once again to catch up with what is working on the market. Not sure how far this will get them.

     
 
 

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