TripAdvisor’s Meta Search Opportunity

On February 27th, TripAdvisor took the wraps off of its new air Meta Search engine. It includes industry-first features such as a built-in fees estimator that other sites do not offer. What makes TripAdvisor the most formidable new competitor within Meta Search, however, is the millions of existing site users who theoretically can be nudged into adopting the product. The challenge will be convincing consumers to put down the hotel reviews for a moment and give the new flight product a try.

Compete data shows that TripAdvisor.com now attracts over 8 million U.S. visitors per month. Since most of TripAdvisor’s content is related to trip, resort, lodging, and other travel reviews, the consumers on the site are predominantly hotel shoppers. Thankfully hotel shoppers tend to also need flights and other travel products, which is where TripAdvisor has an opportunity with its air Meta Search tool. 55% of existing TripAdvisor.com users already shop for flights on other websites in the same month.

The trick for TripAdvisor will be getting its existing site users into a flight-shopping mindset. While 55% of existing site users also shop for flights elsewhere, they don’t look for both at the same time. In fact, when TripAdvisor users shop for flights, only 13% will do so on the same day as their TripAdvisor.com usage.

The market opportunity for TripAdvisor within the air category is significant — a fact that certainly was not lost on the company when it made this decision. Existing TripAdvisor users, however, are spread across thousands of different content areas on the site related to destinations, hotels, and reviews. In order to be successful, TripAdvisor must aggressively channel these consumers into the new "flights" tab, otherwise people may not find it on their own. With the right strategy to do this and grow usage of the product, TripAdvisor is poised to be a major new competitor to the current Meta Search engines.