now claims to the "first standalone travel brand" to hit the 50 million unique monthly visitor mark.
Using global data from
, TripAdvisor says it reached the milestone in July 2011, when traffic increased 22% over the year-earlier period.
Founded in 2000, TripAdvisor, a trip planning and user review site, can boast some heady statistics in addition to the traffic milestone:
TripAdvisor clearly is a big business and it's on a global mission to get even larger and more influential.
With profit margins in its media business of around 50%, Expedia believes TripAdvisor can be a $1 billion business
But, what does it all mean?
TripAdvisor's growth and projections come despite intense criticism in sectors of the hotel industry, and the UK's Advertising Standards Authority is investigating the company
for publishing allegedly false and defamatory user reviews.
Several questions loom.
Do TripAdvisor's 50 million monthly unique visitors find value in the site and will they keep on using it and clicking on the ads, or has word about allegedly fake reviews simply not filtered down to the masses?
Will the Advertising Standards Authority take action and will the U.S. Federal Trade Commission
get involved, as well?
TripAdvisor certainly has been tuned into the outside noise and is making changes on the periphery by altering its branding
But, there have been no moves by TripAdvisor to change the way it collects reviews or to require that reviewers prove they actually stayed in the hotel, for instance.
And, will Google
get in the way of TripAdvisor's growth?
Google Places clearly hasn't killed off TripAdvisor yet
, although TripAdvisor probably would have grown faster without Google Places in the way. In Google Places, Google's own new-found user hotel reviews have taken precedence over TripAdvisor reviews, as they have in Google Hotel Finder
And, Google may have to play nice for awhile as it expands its travel offerings beyond Google Hotel Finder into Google Flight Search
, and enters other verticals, too.
The FTC and European authorities are probing Google, and a U.S. Senate antitrust committee is slated to hear testimony Sept. 21 about Google's practices.
But, outside distractions haven't slowed TripAdvisor's growth and product rollouts so far.
In March, TripAdvisor began giving review writers the option to "add a tip to help travelers choose a good room" and produced Room Tips, which provide users' advice on which rooms or sections of a hotel to book.
And, TripAdvisor continues to expand its flight metasearch offering, with Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain among the latest countries to get the feature on their TripAdvisor websites.
Fifty million monthly unique visitors later, TripAdvisor continues it growth path with few major obstructions in its way -- yet.