The Champagne should have been popping in the Massachusetts offices of TripAdvisor when it was announced that the review giant just became the first stand-alone travel site to top 50 million unique visitors a month.
Using data from Comscore, TripAdvisor reported that the big event happened July 2011 when traffic was up 22% over same time last year.
This is clearly an impressive feat for an eleven year old company!
I can remember sitting in their cramped offices, having coffee with CEO Steve Kaufer, talking about the new company, and trying to grasp his vision.
Dennis Schaal, writing in TNooz does a great job summing up some TripAdvisor highlights since then:
• TripAdvisor is in 30 countries in 21 languages, with Egypt being the latest
• The TripAdvisor Media Group posted revenue increases of more than 30% per quarter for the last six quarters
• The “Group’s” revenue accounted for 16.5 % of parent company, Expedia’s total revenue in the second quarter of this year
With 50 million user reviews (many of them dated or suspect) the company could still very well be a billion dollar business.
I should have stayed for more than coffee.
But there is a dark cloud here.
TripAdvisor, as we reported earlier, is being investigated by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and this has forced the site to modify its brand.
As we Tweeted a few days ago, and as Travelbite.UK.CO reports, TripAdvisor has changed its slogan from “reviews you can trust” to “reviews from our community.”
TripAdvisor of course denies the change has anything to do with allegations many of its reviews are flawed or fake, and that he change reflects a “constantly evolving aspect of the business.”
But KwikChex, an online reputation management company, says it has been approached by more than 2000 hoteliers and managers disputing “the authenticity and accuracy” of TripAdvisor’s reviews.
What matters is this: have the bad publicity and questions about TripAdvisor’s credibility trickled down to the users?
Apparently with 50 Million visitors, not yet.
And how much of a threat does Google’s Places and, again, as we reported, Google’s novel Hotel Finder pose to TripAdvisor?
Kaufer’s company has been the review-based industry leader forever, and presumably continues to be.
But whether the 50 million reviews-mark is a last hurrah, remains to be seen.