The future direction of Tripadvisor under new CEO Matt Goldberg is coming into view.
In a call with financial analysts to discuss the company’s fourth quarter and full year 2022 financial results, Goldberg shared what he describes as a three-part strategy “founded in deeper traveler engagement enabled by better products and stronger execution.”
Goldberg, who joined the company in July, alluded to new strategic priorities last November in comments about the company’s third quarter earnings and during an interview at The Phocuswright Conference.
In the call Wednesday morning to discuss the latest results, Goldberg provided details of the strategy framed around three areas of focus, describing the overarching concept as creating a “modern media marketplace for travel.”
First, he says, the company will develop “differentiated content” to help travelers make decisions and plan trips, built on the foundation of the site’s existing reviews, forums and “other community contributions.”
“We will focus on new immersive formats with fresh, authentic perspectives, like itineraries, guides and collections, that we can create and curate with technology and data at a global scale,” Goldberg says.
“We will deliver this content through essential trip planning tools that are more useful to travelers than anything else offered today. This includes both pre-trip planning, when travelers are building the perfect itinerary, as well as in destination when travelers are making immediate decisions about what to do next.”
Goldberg says the content will be developed with a mobile-first approach to drive more repeat usage of the Tripadvisor app.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
Second, the company will work to develop deeper engagement and a “more persistent relationship” with travelers.
“Today our model is optimized in attracting high volumes of traffic bouncing on and off our platform to verify their travel choices as part of the travel planning process," he says. "We will continue to fine tune that, but we also have a significant opportunity to do a better job of addressing the needs of the majority of our audience.”
As part of this, Tripadvisor will develop ways to recognize and reward its most loyal users.
While the company will “continue to experiment” with its paid Tripadvisor Plus membership program, Goldberg says “we think strengthening the value proposition of a free membership program is the right place to start.”
And the third part of the new strategy will focus on driving value for Tripadvisor’s partners.
“This engagement model will enable us to accelerate and diversify the monetization of our valuable audience, whether through hotel meta, media advertising solutions or emerging marketplaces across valuable travel categories, starting with experiences,” Goldberg says.
In addition, he says the company has two other monetization opportunities. The first is through scaling the inventory of bookable experiences on the site and then extending the “learning to other categories where matching supply and demand is valuable for both travelers and partners.”
And the second monetization opportunity is media, which Goldberg says is an “opportunity to expand our value proposition with brands both in travel related and non-endemic categories to engage our audience in a contextually-relevant manner that is additive to the consumer experience.”
Describing the plan as the company’s “North Star,” Goldberg says, “We know delivering on this plan requires focused execution. Value will be delivered by making it happen in practice. And we recognize that our past execution has not always delivered on our aspirations.”
To spur better execution, the company is changing its management
“We've introduced an updated operating model that balances
the autonomy and empowerment of P&L [profit and loss] ownership with strong
functional alignment and collaboration. We've added critical new leadership
roles and aligned our teams around product, marketing, technology and data,
sales and operations,” he says.
“This breaks down silos, and already, we're seeing improved
efficiency and productivity and increased capacity in areas like engineering to
reallocate resources to our top strategic priorities.”
Tripadvisor has loudly announced – and then quietly dropped or de-prioritized – several initiatives over the years. Most recently, it was Tripadvisor Plus – the membership program that it launched in beta in December 2020 and rolled out in the United States in June 2021, touting it as a “win-win-win” for Tripadvisor, partner hotels and travelers. Three months later, Tripadvisor restructured the program due to rate parity concerns, and since then it has received little more than a passing comment on earnings calls.
In December 2020, Tripadvisor launched Reco, a service to connect consumers with travel advisers for a fee. The service appears to still be available, although it has not been mentioned by executives in some time.
And in September 2018 Tripadvisor launched a redesign that was touted as “the new Tripadvisor,” built as a travel-focused social feed intended to give users a more personalized experience. In the years since, the site has – quietly – gone back to its more traditional search-focused design.