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TripAdvisor is an integral part of the ecosystem of travel

Ahead of its closest competitor by 62 per cent, TripAdvisor has grown to be the largest travel site globally, with growth in India quickly catching up. An increase in traffic and content contribution, strategic partnerships with the travel trade and hotels, and a steady growth in the mobile platform, TripAdvisor is creating an unbeatable niche for itself in the Indian market.

What trends you have witnessed in the usage of TripAdvisor among Indians?

Growth rate is slower right now. However, hospitality seems to be holding its own despite the economic downturn. As opposed to flight bookings, hotel bookings are still growing by up to 25 per cent. It works great for us since we send the hotel traffic to them and that encourages them to invest more with us, which in turn pushes us to focus more on this segment and send them more traffic. We are an integral part of the ecosystem of travel because we provide traffic to these players, and also because we answer the travellers’ questions. We believe that without clarity on the travel and hospitality services, travellers won’t book online.

What are the other initiatives TripAdvisor has taken to increase its brand presence in India?

We are in the process of tying up with a leading airline so that, when you book a ticket with them, they will give you our TripAdvisor content for the city you are booked to. Our Facebook integration is another big initiative we took recently. It has made us the largest social travel site now simply in terms of how we have personalised the travel experience for more than 100 million travellers now. We will continue to try and improve upon that experience. We also keep a tab on traveller trends in India, and have a sizable number of contributors who help us with our regular surveys in the various fields of travel and hospitality.

How has the mobile platform fuelled this growth?

I have spent the last few months meeting up with mobile operators in the country trying to figure out how we can partner with them. We have a partnership space, like on the internet we partner with websites which are travel-related and might find our content relevant to share. In the mobile space the aim is to increase the distribution of our mobile products. For instance, right now, the mobile app, the app site and the city guide, an offline app which currently provides facts about 51 cities around the world, are available on this platform.

We are in talks with mobile service providers and handset manufacturers to take the mobile platform forward. We are trying to get roaming packages designed, where travellers can activate specially priced data service packages to access our products when travelling. We can also give the operators our content, just as we give our content to web sites, so that the mobile operators can use it for their own travel app as well, if they have one.

What sort of growth has TripAdvisor enjoyed so far?

In terms of reach, we have grown 10x since we started. In terms of content, over the last couple of years, most of the reviews on the site have been from Indian travellers. Indians are not just consuming content, but also contributing to it in large numbers. We reached a tipping point six months ago. Our review contribution rates have now gone up about 3x over the last year. Our strategy is that we reach a certain number of people who start writing reviews and eventually develop a habit, until writing reviews becomes a trend. We have reached a point where the Indian contribution rate is fairly comparable with other countries in the world.

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