This report takes a deeper dive into the factors influencing TripAdvisor’s competitive positioning against other online travel booking sites. If travel is the industry that touches all other industries, TripAdvisor is the brand that touches all other travel brands – both consumer and enterprise facing. Despite monetization challenges, TripAdvisor’s wide footprint within the online travel ecosystem makes the company worth paying close attention to; its uncertain future could prove pivotal in the delicate balance of power playing out between online travel brands.
After much anticipation over the launch of instant booking (IB) and TripAdvisor’s potential to rise up against the established big two online travel agencies (OTAs), results have been mixed. With the global launch of IB now complete, the company needs to push for travel buyer and hotelier adoption. This will be challenging and could push TripAdvisor to fall back on existing revenue streams with its metasearch product. While anticipated, first quarter earnings results for 2016 exposed the long road toward IB adoption; adding pressure on leadership to to make instant booking work, as well as growing its non-hotel revenues including its tours and activities business.
Going forward, TripAdvisor will need to work smart and lean to make good on a multi-pronged growth agenda while meeting investor and analyst expectations. Much of it will depend on how instant booking performs in the second and third quarter of 2016. Financially, the company may need to raise money to fulfill its strategic goals.
While speculative, some are pointing to a possible acquisition of TripAdvisor. This will undoubtedly shake up the online travel industry – the degree to which will depend on the buyer. Trip’s deep connection to the traveler is what makes it an attractive buy. At the same time, the online travel landscape is changing. CEO Stephen Kaufer and team will need to keep up technologically to stay relevant and profitable across multiple product categories and booking methods.