|Type of business||Public|
|Headquarters||Needham, Massachusetts, |
|Owner||Liberty Tripadvisor Holdings (Liberty Media) (22.5% equity, 57.9% voting)|
|Key people||Stephen Kaufer, CEO & President|
Ernst Teunissen, CFO
Greg Maffei, Chairman
|Products||Hotel and flight booking|
|Revenue||$1.560 billion (2019)|
|Net income||$126 million (2019)|
|Total assets||$1.984 billion (2019)|
|Total equity||$1.161 billion (2019)|
|Alexa rank||413 (April 2020[update])|
|Native client(s) on||iOS, watchOS, Android, Windows, Windows Phone|
Tripadvisor, Inc. is an American online travel company that operates a website and mobile app with user-generated content and a comparison shopping website. It also offers online hotel reservations and bookings for transportation, lodging, travel experiences, and restaurants. Its headquarters are in Needham, Massachusetts.
Tripadvisor was founded by Kaufer, Steinert, Shanny, and Palka in February 2000. Kaufer said the original idea wasn't a user generated social media site to swap reviews:
"We started as a site where we were focused more on those official words from guidebooks or newspapers or magazines. We also had a button in the very beginning that said, 'Visitors add your own review', and boy, did that just take off."
In April 2009, Tripadvisor launched in China.
In September 2010, SmarterTravel, part of TripAdvisor Media Group, launched SniqueAway (now Jetsetter), the first members-only site where each travel deal is endorsed by member reviews.
In April 2011, Expedia, then led by Dara Khosrowshahi, announced that it would split into two publicly traded companies by spinning off TripAdvisor. The corporate spin-off was completed in December 2011.
In February 2020, the company changed its name from TripAdvisor to Tripadvisor, using a lowercase "a".
Composition and brands
The company's most notable brand, Tripadvisor.com, reached 463 million average monthly unique visitors in 2019. The website has versions in 48 markets and 28 languages worldwide. It features approximately 859 million reviews and opinions on approximately 8.6 million establishments—including 1.4 million hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts and specialty lodging, 842,000 rental properties, 5.2 million restaurants, and 1.2 million travel experiences worldwide.
The company's other websites include Airfarewatchdog, Bokun.io, Bookingbuddy.com, Cruise Critic, Familyvacationcritic.com, FlipKey.com, Thefork.com (including Lafourchette.com, Eltenedor.com, and Iens.nl), Holidaylettings.co.uk, Holiday Watchdog, Housetrip.com, Jetsetter.com, Niumba.com, Onetime.com, Oyster.com, SeatGuru.com, Smartertravel.com, Tingo.com, Vacationhomerentals.com, and Viator.com.
In 2007, the company acquired
- Smarter Travel Media, operator of SmarterTravel.com, BookingBuddy.com, SeatGuru.com, TravelPod.com, and Travel-Library.com.
- The Independent Traveler, Inc., publisher of Cruise Critic and IndependentTraveler.com.
In 2008, the company made the following aquesitions:
- Virtualtourist, a travel website with reportedly about one million registered members and OneTime.com, a travel comparison site.
- a majority stake in FlipKey.com, a vacation-rental website.
In October 2009, the company acquired Kuxun.cn, China's second-largest consumer travel site and hotel and flight search engine. Kuxun was later sold to Meituan. In June 2010, the company acquired holidaylettings.co.uk, the United Kingdom's largest independent vacation rental website. In July 2011, the company acquired Where I've Been, a Chicago-based Facebook app. In October 2012, the company acquired Wanderfly, an NYC-based travel inspiration website for an undisclosed sum.
In 2013, the company acquired:
- Jetsetter, an NYC flash sale site.
- LateGuru, an NYC-based flight and airport information mobile app for an undisclosed sum.
- Oyster.com, a hotel review and photography website.
2014 acquisitions comprised:
- Vacation Home Rentals and Tripod.
- LaFourchette for $140 million.
- Viator for $200 million.
- Mytable and Restopolis.
In 2015, the company announced the acquisition of Iens, a Dutch restaurant review website, and SeatMe, a Dutch table reservation website, along with Portuguese startup BestTables, and Australian startup Dimmi for $25 million.
In 2016, Tripadvisor acquired New York City startup Citymaps.com, which developed a social mapping site and cross-platform map engine based on OpenStreetMap data,and Couverts, a Dutch table reservation website.
Criticism of reviews
In March 2014, TripAdvisor's Chinese site came under scrutiny when a user was found to have reviewed 51 Parisian restaurants in one month, while also reviewing 50 hotels in other countries.
In September 2019, consumer organisation Which? said TripAdvisor was still failing to stop fake reviews. Its survey of nearly 250,000 reviews for the ten top-ranked hotels in ten popular tourist destinations around the world found that one in seven had "blatant hallmarks" of fake positive reviews. TripAdvisor responded: "We are committed to ensuring reviews on TripAdvisor offer useful and accurate information, and we are very aggressive in catching fake reviews and pursuing the fraudsters behind them."
In May 2013, a fake restaurant was set up by a disgruntled businessman and reportedly had diners looking for the eatery in an alley filled with garbage cans. The fake listing went undetected on TripAdvisor for about two months.
In November 2017, journalist Oobah Butler used fake reviews to boost a nonexistent restaurant named The Shed at Dulwich to the top of TripAdvisor rankings for restaurants in London.
Reviews alleging crime
In November 2017, it was reported that TripAdvisor had deleted numerous reviews which contained allegations of serious criminal activity at resorts in Playa del Carmen, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. The deleted reviews included those from two women who were raped at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya in separate incidents 2010 and 2015, one of which involved a hotel security guard. The women said they received assurances from hotel staff that they would help out and contact the authorities, but the staff failed to take any follow-up action. The women then posted advisories and warnings on TripAdvisor, but the reviews were deleted. The review of first victim, Kristie Love, was eventually reinstated, but the company claimed the review of the second victim, Jamie Valeri, was "hearsay" and it was not reinstated. The reports also highlighted at least 12 other such incidents at hotels and resorts across Mexico, including one of a 29-year-old man who was raped by a massage therapist at a resort in the same area, where reviewers had attempted to warn people through reviews on the company's site about criminal incidents that the resorts and local authorities had failed to pursue any criminal or legal action for, only to have those reviews either taken down or declined for posting by TripAdvisor.
Reviews in exchange for inducements
In October 2015, an ex-hotel manager at Australian property manager Meriton said guests were offered inducements to change ratings they left on the site. In 2018, Meriton was fined AU$3 million by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for misleading consumers.
In March 2015, Dietmar Doering, a German hotelier based in Sri Lanka accused TripAdvisor of hosting malicious reviews of his resort The Cosy Beach in Marawila. He claimed he was compelled to take legal action for the estimated damages of US$500,000.
Fine for Improper commercial practices
In December 2014, the Italian Antitrust Authority fined TripAdvisor €500,000 for improper commercial practices on the TripAdvisor website. The Italian Authority said TripAdvisor and its Italian arm should stop publishing misleading information about the sources of the reviews. In June 2015, a fake restaurant created by a newspaper rose to the top of the site's rankings in Italy.
In August 2013, Kenneth Seaton lost a $10 million lawsuit against the company in which he claimed that the ranking for his Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, as "America's dirtiest hotel" was based on unsubstantiated rumors.
Breaches of Advertising Standards
In September 2011, after receiving a complaint submitted by online investigations company KwikChex, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched a formal investigation into TripAdvisor's claims to provide trustworthy and honest reviews from travelers. The ASA found that TripAdvisor "should not claim or imply that all its reviews were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted", and as a result of the investigation, TripAdvisor was ordered to remove the slogan "reviews you can trust" from its UK web site. It changed its hotel review section slogan to "reviews from our community". TripAdvisor said the branding change had been planned for some time and that changes began in June 2011, before the ASA investigation. ASA commented that "it was concerned that consumers might be fooled by fraudulent posts since the entries could be made without any form of verification", but recognized that TripAdvisor used "advanced and highly effective fraud systems" in an attempt to identify and remove fake content.
Tripadvisor has stated that reviews are subject to a verification process which considers the IP address and email address of the author, and tries to detect any suspicious patterns or obscene or abusive language. The website also allows the community of users to report suspicious content, which is then assessed by TripAdvisor staff.
Data protection breach
In March 2011, Tripadvisor informed its members that it suffered a data breach and an unauthorized party had stolen some of its email list and might use it for spamming. No passwords or other information was stolen.
In July 2012, Tripadvisor was fined $80,000 by the United States Department of Transportation for violating fair trading regulations requiring taxes and fees to be shown for prices quoted for airfares. The rule had come into effect in January of that year.
Layoffs and reductions
On April 28, 2020, TripAdvisor notified employees the company be eliminating 600 jobs in Canada and the United States and 300 more in other countries as part of a 25 percent reduction in their workforce around the world. The company also said they would be closing offices in Boston and San Francisco (though the Needham, Massachusetts headquarters is in the Boston metropolitan area). The reduction was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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