A couple of weeks ago, TripAdvisor announced a site transformation, evolving to become the “most personalized and connected travel community, inspiring and empowering individuals with social assistive tools from people and experts they trust.”
Currently in beta, the new site will act more like Facebook than a reviews site, providing a feed of travel-related stories, videos, and articles from brands, publishers, travel partners and, of course, friends. Type in a destination, like Paris, and you will see a stream of content related to that destination with the ability to save items and build itineraries that help you take the best trip for you. For example, members planning a trip to Paris may see a food critic’s article on the best restaurant in the city.
Image source: Skift.com
While the old TripAdvisor had a ‘one size fits all’ strategy, the new TripAdvisor is all about personalization, using AI and user data to give travelers the most relevant recommendations based on personal interests. While TripAdvisor has had a Facebook integration for years, now your friends help determine the content that you see on your personalized homepage to make dreaming about and planning travel a delightful experience. The newly introduced trips feature helps you plan your next vacation by allowing you to save restaurants, destinations, hotels, and experiences to create the perfect itinerary and share it with friends as a reference for their next trip.
Why the strategic pivot? For one, this move should help TripAdvisor better compete with Airbnb and Google, who continue to take market share. Also, clearly TripAdvisor is thinking about monetization. With a relevant feed comes the opportunity for targeted advertising. Will hotel brands be able to market their properties organically, or will they have to pay? No announcements have been made yet in either direction. One revenue feature already touted is easy booking — when travelers get inspired by their feed, they can immediately book the rooms and experiences directly on TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor is well-positioned to be the next big thing in social travel by connecting all travel experiences for its users. Brands like National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel Channel, Business Insider, PopSugar, and The Knot, among many others, are already providing content for the site. As TripAdvisor brings everything together under one roof, it will be interesting to see if there will be a decline in the number of travel review sites visited by each traveler before making a final booking. A 2018 study from comScore found that 60% of people booking travel online went to TripAdvisor during the travel planning and booking process. With publishers, bloggers, and brands contributing content, will TripAdvisor become a one-stop shop?
Finally, for hoteliers, this means that influencers and regular travelers will likely be talking about their favorite hotels, and those mentions will show up in the feeds of friends and followers. This ensures that the work you do to delight your guests will have a cascade effect and allow friends of guests to organically discover the places that make trips special. Social travel is here to stay.
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