Technology

EXCLUSIVE: TripAdvisor reveals what travellers want

Hannah Edensor

They’ve launched new ads and upped their services, not TripAdvisor want to be known as “a category of one”. Travel Weekly caught up with Global Head of Brand, Neela Pal, to find out how they fit in the travel space.

“Over the past few years, we’ve evolved to a place where travellers can plan and book every aspect of their trip, including hotels, attractions, restaurants, vacation rentals, flights and more – anywhere in the world,” Pal told TW.

“And while we are a well-known travel brand, we now want to make it known that consumers can price compare with us for the perfect hotel that meets their needs.

“Our new advertising campaign is focused on letting consumers know that TripAdvisor searches more than 200 sites to help them get the lowest hotel prices – we want them to know that TripAdvisor is committed to helping them find the lowest price for the “right” hotel for them.”

Pal said TripAdvisor has updated its brand position now to show travellers just how much they can do with just one site.

“We recently updated our brand positioning to better reflect the travel brand we’ve become today,” Pal explained.

“[To become] a brand that can help travellers unleash the full potential of their trip so they know better, are able to find great prices so they book better, and have all the information that they need to go better.”

Asked how TripAdvisor is different to other OTAs, Pal said, “We really see ourselves as a category of one”.

Pal explained TripAdvisor has “more than 500 million reviews and opinions providing travellers with the wisdom of the crowds to help them decide where to stay, how to fly, what to do and where to eat”.

They also compare prices for over 200 hotel booking sites, and claim to help travellers to “maximise [their] trip so they know better, book better and go better”.

So what about the traditional travel agents?

“There will always be the type of traveller who wants to have a human to help pull their travel plans together, so the travel agent will fill that role,” Pal admitted.

But she also said that it’s even better to be able to “consult the wisdom of millions in an instant”.

“Our Viator attractions business works with travel agents as travel agents source things to do for people all the time,” she added.

Pal said she feels TripAdvisor has had a positive impact on the travel industry over the past decade.

“We’ve also diversified and continued to expand, offering users what they want and when they want it, via airline reviews, direct restaurant bookings and even our new travel timeline feature.

“It’s about the scale of content we have across all things travel and the breadth of sites we can help compare so consumers can easily make their decisions at any stage.

“We envision a future of travel planning and booking that will be much more personalised, delightful and effortless, and we are constantly conducting research and improving ourselves so we can be that key to help users unleash the full potential of their trips.”

These are the very characteristics that real world travel agents offer, and while some industry leaders think both agents and OTAs can coexist, personalisation and the element of ‘story-telling’ has long been the agent’s advantage to retaining customers.

“You have to continue to evolve, innovate and iterate,” Pal stressed, looking to the future of all types of travel booking methods.

“You have to listen to the customer and understand and cater to what they need and want. It is something you have to be laser focused on.

“Machine learning and more personalisation are what we are focused on at TripAdvisor, so we can better offer consumers choices that are right for them.

“There is so much choice in the world and it can be daunting; the more we know about a consumer using our platform – whether they are on their mobile device or desktop, on the trip or planning the trip – can make a difference in the decisions they make.”

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