Tripadvisor: the GrandDaddy of all Travel Sites
Tripadvisor is the GrandDaddy of all Travel Sites. Who amongst us has not spent hours on TripAdvisor - exploring, reading, writing reviews ourselves, researching for our next trip? Being Grossed Out by the 2011 Dirtiest Hotels, vowing to do even MORE research for our travels? I am fascinated by the depth of knowledge that TripAdvisor has, and constantly use it for travel planning (and entertainment). I make sure to write my own reviews, so that others can benefit from our own experiences - what a way to give back! The TripAdvisor community is millions-strong, and an incredible travel resource.
Always curious, I wanted to learn the back story of TripAdvisor. How did it start? What's new? Are they real people? How can readers best utilize their knowledge? I was lucky enough to speak with Justin Drake of TripAdvisor on these very issues. Here's what he had to say....
Justin Drake, Tripadvisor
WE: Please tell us about your site, TripAdvisor.com...
JD: TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, is a one stop shop for travel planning and inspiration. Our goal is to help travelers plan and have the perfect trip. We’re best known for our more than 40 million reviews and opinions written by real travelers about hotels, restaurants, and attractions, but we also have a number of newer offerings, including TripAdvisor Flights, our more than 100,000 vacation rental listings, and a suite of mobile offerings, including free apps for the iPhone, Android, Nokia, and Palm smartphones, and the iPad.
WE: What was the genesis of your site?
JD: TripAdvisor was founded by CEO Steve Kaufer back in 2000 as a way for travelers to get candid travel advice. Prior to starting the site, Steve had been trying to plan a trip and found that the only information available about different resorts came from the properties themselves. He thought there should be a way for consumers to get the truth from their fellow travelers about the good, the bad, and the ugly about different properties. So, he decided to create TripAdvisor as a resource for travelers to get the truth about hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
Ten years and more than 40 million reviews and opinions later, TripAdvisor is now the world’s largest travel website.
WE: Now you've got a new airlines ratings feature - can you please tell us more about it?
JD: We launched a new airline ratings feature on TripAdvisor Flights, our site’s flight meta-search engine, as a way for travelers to get candid feedback from their fellow fliers on the world’s airlines. TripAdvisor Flights now features eight airline rating categories covering various aspects of the flight experience that can be rated by travelers on a scale of one to five, including baggage handling, check-in experience, in-flight amenities, in-flight service, punctuality, reasonableness of fees, seat comfort, and value.
When travelers conduct a flight search on TripAdvisor Flights, they can quickly view and compare traveler ratings for different airlines by clicking on the carrier’s name. In addition, travelers can filter search results by minimum rating and add airline ratings of their own, as long as they are signed in as a TripAdvisor member. With the new feature, travelers have more information at their fingertips to find the flight that best fits their travel needs.
WE: How can readers interact with TripAdvisor via Facebook?
JD: TripAdvisor recently launched a new integration with Facebook to give travelers easier access to the trusted travel advice of their friends and provide them with three levels of inspiration. First, on the homepage, travelers can now see their friends’ travel maps highlighting the places they’ve been, their friends’ most recent travel activities and their friends’ most popular travel destinations.
In addition, the integration enables travelers to view a destination page on TripAdvisor and see all of the reviews their friends have written first. Travelers will also see their friends’ reviews first when researching a hotel, attraction, or restaurant.
WE: How can travelers get the most out of trip planning and inspiration with TripAdvisor?
JD: Travelers can get the most out of trip planning and inspiration with TripAdvisor by really engaging with the community on our site. By that I mean that travelers tend to get the most out of TripAdvisor if they not only use the site to get trusted travel advice, but also to give back to their fellow travelers by writing reviews about their experiences, posting photos of their journeys, and contributing to the discussions going on in our travel forums.
I’d also encourage travelers to explore all of their options when planning a trip, and to use the wealth of resources available on TripAdvisor. For example, some destinations, like Orlando, Florida, are great spots to consider renting a home for a trip. TripAdvisor allows travelers to calculate the potential savings of renting a home versus staying in another accommodation type with our Vacation Rentals Calculator, which can be found at www.tripadvisor.com/vacationrentals.
WE: You've got a new branch of TripAdvisor, called SniqueAway - can you please tell us more about that?
JD: SniqueAway was launched by TripAdvisor and our sister site SmarterTravel this past fall as a way for travelers to gain access to exclusive offers from hotels and resorts that are highly-rated on TripAdvisor. Once a traveler becomes a member of SniqueAway, they receive several great deals each week for hotels and resorts around the world. They need to act fast, though, as sales only last for one week, or until the rooms are booked. It’s a great way to score a stay at a luxury hotel for a fraction of the listed rate.
SniqueAway also gives credits to members when friends they invite to join book a hotel stay through the site. It’s an excellent way to give your friends access to special deals while building up credit towards a future stay of your own.
WE: How are your reader reviews assessed before publication?
JD: We take the authenticity of reviews on TripAdvisor very seriously, and have safeguards in place to ensure that reviews reflect the candid opinions of real travelers. First, we have automated tools that help flag questionable content for review. Second, we have a passionate community of more than 40 million travelers who keep an eye on our content and flag suspicious reviews. And lastly, we have a team of moderators that investigate questionable content.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
JD: We just announced the acquisition of EveryTrail, a cool company that's developed a GPS-enabled publishing platform to create outdoor tours and city guides for mobile devices. It allows travelers to share trips, connect with other travelers, and find great things to do in their travel destinations.
As you can tell, the technology will complement TripAdvisor's more than 40 million traveler reviews and opinions quite well, and enrich the quality of travel information consumers can access from their smartphones. We're looking forward to integrating parts of the TripAdvisor and EveryTrail mobile apps in the year ahead, and think it'll make our mobile offerings even more helpful for travelers on-the-go.
WE: Thanks so very much, Justin. It's lovely to learn the back story of an extraordinary travel company - one that we ALL use (and love!).
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