It’s the world’s biggest travel website, and it’s revolutionising the industry for both industry leaders and independent attractions. The website is, of course, TripAdvisor, one of the most prominent and influential community-driven websites in the travel space. Since its slow rise to popularity in early 2001, the website has grown into a do-all travel portal, and it’s soon to grow even more.
Founder and CEO Stephen Kaufer has made it clear that TripAdvisor is his own creation. Despite a series of proposed sales and large offers from other travel industry leaders, the remains in Kaufer’s hands and is operated by his own team of employees. Now numbering almost six-hundred, steady growth has seen TripAdvisor’s workforce expand to include workers in every populated continent.
It’s growth that’s been fuelled by the company’s community-friendly approach to reviews and hotel information. TripAdvisor limits the amount of censorship and screening on its website, preferring a hands-off approach to the selected information often seen in travel magazines. Negative reviews are published in their entirety, with users encouraged to offer honest, useful travel advice.
Perhaps that’s why the website has grown so influential over the past decade. For decades, the most visible information on any destination was almost entirely positive – magazines refrained from any overtly negative content or lengthy criticism pieces due to partnerships and style. It’s TripAdvisor’s honest and balanced negativity that often sells (or anti-sells) a destination to readers.
For independent travellers, the website remains a hit. For independent travel businesses, it’s an even bigger success, generating thousands of leads monthly for those that feature in its database. With the boutique travel sector growing throughout the recent economic downturn, small hotels and tourism operators may have found their promotional winner in a prominent TripAdvisor listing.