TripAdvisor is primed to give you advice. A subsidiary of online travel services provider Expedia until late 2011, spun off TripAdvisor offers a search engine and directory that matches hotels with flights and packages. The company provides more than 60 million consumer reviews to help travelers plan consumer-savvy trips. The global source strives to fine-tune search results to provide information that is free of bias and in a mobile format for smartphone use. TripAdvisor partners with top online travel businesses, such as Hotwire, Hotels.com, and American Airlines, and offers some 30 localized versions in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, the UK, China, and other countries.
After separating their businesses, former parent Expedia continues to focus on travel transactions (including airline and hotel reservations) while TripAdvisor, along with nearly 20 other media and advertising brands, concentrates on providing travel-related media. As part of the business separation, Expedia investors gained a stake in TripAdvisor and a tax-free windfall. The deal benefitted stockholders, as well as the fast-ascending TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor accounted for some 15% of Expedia's revenue at the time of the split.
Now trading as a stand-alone company, TripAdvisor has retained its growth strategy. It generates 79% of its sales through click-based advertising. To maintain this momentum, the company continues to count on social media and mobile functions for future revenue. Its Wisdom of Friends initiative with Facebook focuses on boosting TripAdvisor's social presence to drive traffic to its numerous websites. Mobile downloads rose dramatically from 2 million in 2010 to 13 million in 2011 while monthly unique visitors via smartphones and tablets skyrocketed to 16 million in 2011 from a mere 4 million in 2010. TripAdvisor's launch of 20 free Mobile City Guides for Android and iOS and its development of a user-friendly interface have given the company's mobile strategy added traction. TripAdvisor's also mining sales among its 200,000 vacation rental properties and its more than 35,000 hotel business listings, a product launched in 2010.
Acquisitions inked during the past few years have made TripAdvisor a dominant force in travel media and pits the online source squarely against the likes of HomeAway, which caters to customers who rent vacation homes (or a temporary home away from home). The purchases also positively impact its growth strategy. In 2011 TripAdvisor enhanced its mobile offering by purchasing EveryTrail, based in California. Buying the company, which has developed a GPS-enabled publishing platform, allows TripAdvisor customers to access walking tours, city guides, and hiking trails from their smartphones. Also that year TripAdvisor acquired Chicago-based Where I've Been, whose eponymous Facebook application allows users to pinpoint their travels on an interactive map.
The company has been extending its reach internationally. While sales in the US dropped from 61% of 2010 sales to 55% in 2011, TripAdvisor made up for it in the UK and in other countries. Business in the UK grew from 14% to 16% during the same period. By launching individual TripAdvisor sites for countries worldwide, the travel source made up for lost US sales. Accounting for 24% of sales in 2010, countries outside the US and UK saw revenue rises to 29% in 2011. TripAdvisor has launched local sites in Argentina, Indonesia, Greece, and Russia. The travel company also acquired Holiday Lettings (holidaylettings.co.uk), the UK's largest independent website for reserving vacation homes, apartments, and other rentals. The purchase was preceded by the acquisitions of online travel community virtualtourist.com, UK's holidaywatchdog.com, and travel booking comparison site onetime.com.
TripAdvisor used to operate DigitalAdvisor, but the directory of electronic products spun off in 2007 with investments from Riga Ventures, Spinnaker Capital, and private investors.
TripAdvisor is controlled by Liberty Interactive Corp., which acquired a 57% stake in the firm in late 2012. – less