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TripAdvisor Idea Proposal (TRIP)

TripAdvisor Idea Proposal (TRIP)
 

Is TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking feature seeing increased adoption from hotels and OTAs?

Report Available: October 20, 2016

 

Blueshift’s ongoing research found TRIP’s Instant Booking feature off to a slow start with muted expectations from hotels. TRIP struggled through a disappointing Q2, is facing a slower summer travel season, and has growing direct booking competition from GOOG. Yet Instant Booking is now live globally, has better conversion than meta in certain instances, and mobile revenue growth is happening faster than expected.

 

Observations

  1. TRIP’s Q2 was below earnings and revenue expectations. Financial results showed revenue down 3%, including an 8% decline in revenue from the hotel segment. Profit margin also fell as the company invests in Instant Booking, which went live globally in the quarter. Click-based revenue was lower because of the Instant Booking roll out and efforts to monetize mobile. Still, management remains optimistic that the emphasis on Instant Booking and the shift to capture mobile traffic will play out well for the company in the long run and lead to a turnaround story in the second half of 2016.
  2. A significant challenge for TRIP is the overall travel segment slowing this summer, in what is typically the busiest travel season. TRIP’s hotel shopper growth slowed 3% despite 5% year-to-year growth in marketing spending. Competition continues to build as GOOG ramps up its instant booking business, providing another challenge to TRIP’s Instant Booking success.
  3. Instant Booking boasts partnerships with 8 of the 10 major hotel chains, led by PCLN’s Booking.com with over half of TRIP’s top hotel search results. In instances of simple straightforward vacation stays, Instant Booking is outpacing meta in conversion. Mobile revenue grew about 30% and shopper count was up about 23% in mobile, a faster shift than expected.
  4. Blueshift’s June 23 report showed muted expectations for TRIP’s Instant Booking as hotels are not seeing material returns and are hesitant to expect a significant improvement in the near-term. Pricing is a major concern as commissions, tech support and partnerships necessary for integration approach those charged by OTAs, and there is fear that it will become another competitor to the hotels’ direct-booking efforts. Still, hotels have reason the prefer Instant Booking given the payment for booking at time of stay vs. metasearch’s cost per click. At the same time, hotel sources report strong revenue growth from metasearch, with examples of 14 times return on ad spending, a 33% y/y revenue increase, and a 5- or 6-1 return. Conversely, OTAs are pleased with Instant Booking behind increased inventory exposure.

 

Is Instant Booking gaining traction with hotels and OTAs? How does this compare to June? What are hotels and OTAs seeing from customers with regard to Instant Booking? How are conversion rates on Instant Booking? How is the shift to mobile booking? How does that compare to expectations? What led to the decline in hotel shopper growth in Q2?  How does Q3 hotel shopper growth look? What is happening with the trend of hotel shoppers waiting to arrive at their destination to book rooms? How is this affecting the industry? To answer these and other questions, Blueshift will gather data and issue a market research report from Chain hotels, Independent hotels, Online travel agencies, and Industry specialists.

 

Companies: TripAdvisor (TRIP), Expedia (EXPE), Priceline (PCLN), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), Alphabet (GOOG/GOOGL)

 

Research Begins: October 3, 2016