TripAdvisor Falls Short of Q1 Projections

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One of TripAdvisor’s main priorities for 2014 was launching the direct booking of hotels in its mobile apps and mobile site – Instant Booking. However, the mobile platform not yet attracted the partner lineup the company was seeking.

During the company’s first quarter earnings call, TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said about 150,000 properties, or about one-third of those e-commerce-enabled, are now available for direct booking, or Instant Booking as TripAdvisor calls it. This can be done on its mobile site, as well as through iPhone and Android apps.

TripAdvisor’s Q1 Earnings
The news on the Instant Booking feature was overshadowed during TripAdvisor’s earnings call, mainly because the company failed to hit its Q1 projections. Sales for the travel review website climbed 32% to $281 million, shy of analysts’ consensus at $282.9 million.

TripAdvisor raised it’s 2014 growth forecast for referral revenue after reporting a nine percent rise in quarterly profit, helped by increased revenue from referrals and display advertisements. Because of this, TripAdvisor’s shares rose as much as 3.8 percent after it reported a 16% increase in referrals income, which makes up three-quarters of its revenue.

The company forecasts 2014 referral revenue growth in the high 20’s in terms of percentages, up from a previous forecast of growth in the low 20’s.

The company is benefiting from higher fees every time a user clicks through to a third-party booking site, after the company changed its display to show prices more prominently. The site now lists prices of hotel rooms from booking sites alongside its user reviews, allowing for easy comparison. This translates into fewer clicks for each booking site, but each click is more likely to lead to a booking.

TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking
Instant Booking enables travelers to book a hotel without leaving the company’s app or mobile site, but is currently only visible to about 10% of U.S. users.

The introduction of Instant Booking in TripAdvisor’s hotel-metasearch product on mobile is extremely important as TripAdvisor believes it will greatly increase monetization. That’s because users will not find themselves lost in the handoff to third-party hotel or online travel agency sites in order to book their stay.

The lack of take-up by bigger online travel agencies like Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz, means TripAdvisor’s major rivals at this point are reluctant to further empower an already formidable competitor.

To read more about TripAdvisor’s Q1 earnings call, click here.

To read more about TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking, click here.

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