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TripAdvisor is considering an even bigger brand marketing spend for 2017, admitting that it had been “too optimistic” gauging how quickly travellers would start using the site for booking.
In a prepared remarks document released as part of its Q4/FY 2016 earnings, it said:
“As we further streamline the hotel shopping experience to focus on helping users find the best price, we are also evaluating a multi-year brand marketing investment, including a return to TV advertising…to accelerate the user perception shift to TripAdvisor as a place to price compare and book.
Size, scope, timing, and ROI of such investment are currently under consideration.”
TripAdvisor’s shift from reviews to bookings has been well documented, driven by the launch of its Instant Booking initiative. At the end of the 2016 it had 560,000 instantly bookable properties on its platform.
But at the same time it admitted that the “instant booking rollout induced significant revenue headwinds in 2016, muting revenue growth and significantly impacting profitability.”
The statement references ComScore reports which say that TripAdvisor “influences” 40-50% of the world’s hotel bookings. TripAdvisor wants to convert this influence into bookings, tapping the multi-billion dollar opportunity. It calls this disconnect “a monetization leak” and the proposed branding campaign is one way to address this.
TripAdvisor execs should get some credit for ‘fessing up that they were over-optimistic. The problem appears to be that consumers didn’t get the memo and continue to see the site as somewhere to get advice about properties that are then booked elsewhere. The 45% annual increase in the number of reviews it hosts shows that people are still engaging with the site.