Tripadvisor

  (Redirected from TripAdvisor)

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.[1] Its headquarters are in Needham, Massachusetts.

Tripadvisor Inc.
Type of businessPublic
Traded as
FoundedFebruary 2000; 21 years ago (2000-02)
HeadquartersNeedham, Massachusetts,
U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
OwnerLiberty Tripadvisor Holdings (Liberty Media) (22.5% equity, 57.9% voting)
Founder(s)Stephen Kaufer
Key peopleStephen Kaufer, CEO & President
Ernst Teunissen, CFO
Greg Maffei, Chairman
IndustryTravel services
ProductsHotel and flight booking
Vacation rental
Table reservation
Guide books
RevenueDecrease $1.560 billion (2019)
Net incomeIncrease $126 million (2019)
Total assetsDecrease $1.984 billion (2019)
Total equityDecrease $1.161 billion (2019)
Employees4,194 (2019)
URLtripadvisor.com
Native client(s) oniOS, watchOS, Android, Windows, Windows Phone
[1]

HistoryEdit

 
Logo from 2000 to 2020
 
Stephen Kaufer, CEO, Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor was founded by Stephen Kaufer, Langley Steinert, Nick Shanny, and Thomas Palka in February 2000.[2]

Kaufer has stated the original idea was not a user generated social media review site:

"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."[3]

Seed money was obtained from Flagship Ventures, the Bollard Group, and private investors.[4] In April 2009, Tripadvisor launched in China.[5]

In February 2020, the company changed its name from TripAdvisor to Tripadvisor, using a lowercase "a".[6]

On April 28, 2020, Tripadvisor notified employees the company will 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 downtown Boston and San Francisco (though the Needham, Massachusetts headquarters is in the Boston metropolitan area). The reduction was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[7]

On Dec 8th, 2020, China blocked 105 apps, including Tripadvisor, from mobile app stores. The Cyberspace Administration of China stated that the apps were "illegal", and that public concerns were raised around "obscene, pornographic and violent information or fraud, gambling and prostitution".[8][9]

Composition and brandsEdit

The company's most notable brand, Tripadvisor.com, reached 463 million average monthly unique visitors in 2019. In December 2020, the website drew 90.2 million visits, and the Tripadvisor app was among the top 10 travel apps in 26 countries as of January 2021.[10] 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.

In 2019, Tripadvisor earned 33% of its revenues from Expedia Group and Booking Holdings and their subsidiaries, primarily for pay-per-click advertising.[1]

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.[1]

Controversies and criticismEdit

Criticism of reviewsEdit

Tripadvisor has been the subject of controversy for allowing unsubstantiated anonymous reviews to be posted about any hotel, bed and breakfast, inn, or restaurant.[11]

In May 2021, Tripadvisor faced criticism for allowing an offensive review to be posted about the Auschwitz concentration camp museum in which a visitor described bringing a baby to the gas chambers. Tripadvisor initially stated the review complied with their submission guidelines but later removed it following social media backlash.[12][13][14]

BlackmailEdit

Tripadvisor itself potential has stated that it understands "'blackmail' — when a guest threatens to write a negative review unless a demand for a refund, upgrade, or other request is met — is an occasional concern", and, in 2018 took a step to try and manage down this risk for businesses that accepted a requirement to have a user account with them.[15] Nevertheless, media reports indicate that the concern continues in 2020.[16]

Fake reviewsEdit

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.[17]

In November 2017, Oobah Butler, a journalist for Vice Media, claimed to have made money posting positive reviews for restaurants he never visited, in exchange for payment.[18]

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."[19]

Phantom establishmentsEdit

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.[20]

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.[18][21][22][23][24]

Reviews alleging crimeEdit

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.[25][26] 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.[27]

Reviews in exchange for inducementsEdit

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.[28] In 2018, Meriton was fined AU$3 million by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission for misleading consumers.[29][30][31]

Malicious reviewsEdit

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.[32]

In 2012, an action was brought in a Sheriff Court in Scotland, by Richard Gollin, the owner of a guesthouse in the Outer Hebrides who claimed damages for malicious statements. Tripadvisor asserted that the Scottish courts lacked jurisdiction.[33] The outcome of this case was called a "landmark victory". Tripadvisor conceded that it could be sued in the UK's jurisdictions (having previously claimed to be outside the remit of Scots law because it is based in Massachusetts). The court ruled that Tripadvisor's terms of use constituted a contract, which was actionable/enforceable by the business being reviewed. The case was found to involve issues relating to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Act of 1977, and these issues were referred to a higher court in Stornoway. The plaintiff eventually dropped the case because he could not afford to pursue it.[34]

TrollingEdit

In 2019 a guesthouse being used as the headquarters for the Brexit Party was "trolled" by hundreds of users leaving one-star reviews on Tripadvisor. The guesthouse in Norfolk was owned by the husband of Catherine Blaiklock, the leader of the political party.[35]

Fine for Improper commercial practicesEdit

In December 2014, the Italian Antitrust Authority fined Tripadvisor €500,000 for improper commercial practices on the Tripadvisor website.[36][37][38] 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.[39]

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.[40][41][42]

Breaches of advertising standardsEdit

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.[43] The ASA found that Tripadvisor "should not claim or imply that all its reviews were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted",[44] and as a result of the investigation, Tripadvisor was ordered to remove the slogan "reviews you can trust" from its UK web site.[45] 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.[46] 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.[47]

 
Tripadvisor booth at ITB Berlin, 2014

Approximately 30 hotels have been penalized on the website by the company for suspicious reviews, including a Cornwall hotel that bribed guests to leave positive reviews of the hotel.[48]

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.[49] The website also allows the community of users to report suspicious content, which is then assessed by Tripadvisor staff.[50]

Data protection breachEdit

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.[51]

Drip pricingEdit

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.[52]

Involvement in Israeli settlementsEdit

On 12 February 2020, the United Nations published a database of all business enterprises involved in specified activities relating to the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Golan Heights.[53][54] Tripadvisor has been listed on the database in light of its involvement in activities related to "the provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements".[53][54] The international community considers Israeli settlements built on land occupied by Israel to be in violation of international law.[55][56][57]

Ownership and acquisitionsEdit

In 2004, the company was acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp.[58] In August 2005, IAC spun off its travel group of businesses under the Expedia, Inc. name.[59]

In April 2011, Expedia, then led by Dara Khosrowshahi, announced that it would split into two publicly traded companies by spinning off Tripadvisor.[60] The corporate spin-off was completed in December 2011.[61][62]

AcquisitionsEdit

In 2007, the company acquired

  • Smarter Travel Media, operator of SmarterTravel.com, BookingBuddy.com, SeatGuru.com, TravelPod.com, and Travel-Library.com.[63]
  • The Independent Traveler, Inc., publisher of Cruise Critic and IndependentTraveler.com.[64]

In 2008, the company made the following acquisitions:

Holiday Watchdog, user-generated travel site in the U.K.[65][66]

  • Airfarewatchdog.[67]
  • Virtualtourist, a travel website with reportedly about one million registered members and OneTime.com, a travel comparison site.[68]
  • A majority stake in FlipKey.com, a vacation-rental website.[69]

In October 2009, the company acquired Kuxun.cn, China's second-largest consumer travel site and hotel and flight search engine.[70] Kuxun was later sold to Meituan.[71] In June 2010, the company acquired holidaylettings.co.uk, the United Kingdom's largest independent vacation rental website.[72] 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.[73] In July 2011, the company acquired Where I've Been, a Chicago-based Facebook app.[74] In October 2012, the company acquired Wanderfly, an NYC-based travel inspiration website for an undisclosed sum.[75][76]

In 2013, the company acquired:

  • Jetsetter, an NYC flash sale site.[77]
  • GateGuru, an NYC-based flight and airport information mobile app for an undisclosed sum.[78][79]
  • Oyster.com, a hotel review and photography website.[80]

2014 acquisitions comprised:

  • Vacation Home Rentals and Tripod.[81]
  • LaFourchette for $140 million.[82][83]
  • Viator for $200 million.[84][85]
  • Mytable and Restopolis.[86]
  • London-based travel community Tripbod.[87]

In 2015, the company announced the acquisition of Iens, a Dutch restaurant review website, and SeatMe, a Dutch table reservation website,[88][89][90] along with Portuguese startup BestTables,[91][92] and Australian startup Dimmi for $25 million.[93][94]

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.[95][96][97]

In April 2018, the company acquired Icelandic startup Bokun, a provider of software for travel booking,[98][99][100] and in November 2018, the company added DoorDash to its restaurant listings.[101]

AwardsEdit

In 2019, Tripadvisor was named America's Best Midsize Employer by Forbes.[102]

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit