TRAVEL review site TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking feature – which allowed users to book hotels directly on TripAdvisor instead of referring them to external agencies such as Expedia – is not showing signs of growth following its launch in 2015.
The feature was also meant to allow TripAdvisor a higher-margin booking fee by bypassing external online travel agencies (OTAs) and other third-party agents.
However, it cut into revenue growth causing caused the company’s stock price to tumble to its lowest since 2012.
TripAdvisor senior vice-president of product Adam Medros said, “TripAdvisor is ‘increasingly agnostic’ about how its customers book their accommodations whether through the site directly or via links to hotel booking sites”.
According to Bloomberg, the company has since changed the Instant Booking feature to be less prominent on the site.
The move was met with relief from investors and boosted TripAdvisor shares up by eight percent.
TripAdvisor said, “Company-branded, click-based ad revenue and revenue from Instant Booking rose 11.6 percent in the first quarter, despite continued revenue dilution from last year’s launch of Instant Booking in certain non-US markets.”
Despite its lack of success, Medros stressed the feature was still a key part of TripAdvisor’s strategy.
“If Instant Book wasn’t working, we would just kill it, but we’re not killing it. We are trying to change the perception of TripAdvisor to not just be a review site,” he said.
Reuters reported the company planned to spend up to US$80 million on television ads, starting with US ads.
TripAdvisor chief executive officer Steve Kaufer said in a statement the ad campaign aimed to “build user awareness of TripAdvisor as not only a great place to research a hotel, but a great place to find the lowest prices when a user is ready to book”.