How TripAdvisor Fights Its Biggest Rivals

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Speaking of marketing spend in online travel, here’s Skift on how TripAdvisor is being massively outspent by Expedia and Priceline:

TripAdvisor has some advantages that weaker competitors such as Hipmunk, Room 77 or Hotel Tonight don’t but consider that while TripAdvisor grew its total selling and marketing spend 9 percent to $756 million in 2016, at the same time Expedia Inc. ratcheted up its marketing spend 29 percent to $4.36 billion, and the Priceline Group’s jumped 23 percent to $4.35 billion.

China’s Ctrip, meanwhile, spent a bit more on selling and marketing than TripAdvisor, $844 million, in 2016, and this amounted to a 90 percent jump that was largely tied to its taking control of online booking rival Qunar. […]

With Google turning search largely into a paid marketplace, the advantage goes to scale players such as Expedia and the Priceline Group.

TripAdvisor still has its huge community.

When you travel around the world today, TripAdvisor signage in stores, hotels and restaurants is omnipresent, with each touting various commendations from TripAdvisor. Its global sites have 465 million reviews and opinions, and travelers know TripAdvisor as a place to consume those reviews when figuring out which hotel or restaurant to visit.

“We’ve made the point about our scale supporting TripAdvisor through this transition innumerable times,” TripAdvisor chief marketing officer Barbara Messing told Skift in an emailed statement Monday. “We have so much traffic, including hotel shopping traffic, that is already up funnel, that is already discovering us and loving the TripAdvisor brand for our review content. Our opportunity is to get those individuals to come back to book with us also and find great prices on hotel stays. […]

The company is increasingly sending location-based notifications to users when they are ambling by a restaurant or attraction. TripAdvisor’s cross-marketing and selling opportunities are numerous.

It makes one wonder if a merger between AirBnB and TripAdvisor would make sense.

Recently, TripAdvisor announced the closing of Travelpod, its travel blogging platform. TripAdvisor is planning to increase brand marketing spend in 2017.

TripAdvisor remains peerless within the travel industry in what the company can follow through on:

TripAdvisor is making a big move to further monetize its 4.2 million restaurant listings by launching a subscription service with added features for dining establishments.

In so doing, TripAdvisor is taking a shot at what Yelp and Google, among others, are doing in their own efforts to wrangle advertising dollars out of restaurateurs. TripAdvisor already attracts plenty of restaurant advertising, which plays off free listings and 100 million reviews, but its latest foray, as distinguished from Yelp’s and Google’s, goes beyond a pay-per-click business model and offers restaurants extra services for a monthly or annual fee.

TripAdvisor’s new restaurant subscription business, which was soft-launched in the U.S. and Spain in the fall but now goes global, supplements the dining reservation services provided by TripAdvisor’s The Fork and the Priceline Group’s OpenTable.

Everyone else needs to buy companies to be able to go into those kinds of business.

TripAdvisor remains the underdog against the big two but, like AirBnB, it can leverage a large network of end consumers to do what others can not.

It ‘just’ needs to find the best levers.

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