Travel can be full of headaches and tons of stressors even if you’re excited about your end destination. In fact, a fun family vacation can quickly turn into a slog when you end up booking a bad hotel, visiting attractions that are overpriced and underwhelming and generally getting the worst of the city or country you’re in. Until the age of the internet, there wasn’t much you could do outside of telling your friends about it.
Today, sites like TripAdvisor aim to help travelers learn more about their destination before they even book a trip. Designed as a sort of review aggregator, many people religiously consult TripAdvisor before booking a hotel or even checking out a popular travel destination.
Use this guide to learn more about TripAdvisor and whether it’s really worth bookmarking and checking before you plan a trip for business or pleasure.
TripAdvisor Company Background
TripAdvisor is a large online review site that was designed to help travelers learn more about their destinations to maximize trips. While predominately aimed at leisure travelers since popular attractions are included, many business travelers use the site to check hotels and amenities that they’ll need during a trip.
Founded in February 2000 by Stephen Kaufner, Thomas Palka, Nick Shanney and Langley Steinert in Needham, Massachusetts where the company is headquartered. The company officially launched their site to put forth more information similar to guide and travel books, helping travelers find their way around cities and locate points of interest. During the site design, they added an “add your own review button,” and according to the company’s founders, it took off much better than expected. In fact, that button would eventually become what TripAdvisor is all about.
The company stayed private until 2004 when it was purchased by IAC/InterActiveCorp. In 2005, IAC began branding all of its travel-related holdings as Expedia, Inc., which may be a familiar name to many travelers already. TripAdvisor continued to grow, and in 2009, they branched out into China, making them a global player in the online travel world.
In 2011, TripAdvisor was split from Expedia, making them a publicly traded company in their own right. TripAdvisor earns a great deal of their revenue from Expedia and Priceline, mostly through click-based advertising.
TripAdvisor is a trusted site that many travelers use on a regular basis. For individuals that travel regularly, it can feel like an indispensable tool. Similarly, irregular family vacation-style travelers can use TripAdvisor to try and make the most of any away from home travel.
TripAdvisor Pros Include:
• Cost. TripAdvisor is free to use, making it a very valuable resource since so many people sign up. The free nature of TripAdvisor is also part of what ensures that reviews are accurate, fair and open to all.
• TripAdvisor is popular with travelers. This helps ensure that hotels and destinations get lots of reviews from people from all walks of life. It also means that overly positive and overly negative reviews aren’t all there is for travelers to view.
• Users can post photos. Sometimes a photo speaks 1,000 words, especially when it comes to hotel rooms and attractions.
• Hotel managers and business owners now have the ability to respond to issues or positive reviews. This helps create an open dialogue that improves the travel experience for everyone.
• It’s easy to book flights, hotels, car rentals and more through TripAdvisor once you’ve chosen your destination. However, users are not required to do this.
TripAdvisor has a lot of benefits for travelers, especially since it is a free service. However, some travelers have reported a few issues that you might want to be aware of.
TripAdvisor Cons Include:
• Major gaps in user experience can make it hard to find a hotel or attraction that seems appealing or perfect for your needs.
• Some travelers are concerned that glowing reviews are often fake and placed by the hotel or attraction, not a real user.
• Hotels and attractions may reach out to customers offering free or discounted stays or services in exchange for positive reviews that may not be accurate.
• Some review tips and user-created guides may not be accurate. Others may simply be out-of-date.
• Negative reviews unrelated to the general experience can make great hotels or attractions seem bad. One bad hotel stay doesn’t necessarily mean a bad hotel.
TripAdvisor Bottom Line
TripAdvisor is a large user-based review site that’s extremely popular for a reason. While the site is free, which has helped improve popularity greatly, the varied opinions available from so many travelers worldwide generally ensure that the reviews you’re reading are fair, honest and up-to-date.
TripAdvisor may not be able to help you plan a trip like a personal concierge, but new features that allow you to book right from the site make it easy to begin comparing prices. It’s important to note that TripAdvisor is affiliated with Expedia though, so checking pricing on your own through other sites is always recommended.
Lack of price-checking features aside, which isn’t the main goal of TripAdvisor, the site is a valuable resource that anyone looking to book a trip should consider checking often.
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