Skift Take

TripAdvisor stated earlier this year that its transition to transactions, or Instant Booking, would show progress in the second half of 2016. There is indeed a morsel of progress but not enough to satisfy investors and other critics.

If investors were looking to see progress in TripAdvisor’s attempt to supplement lead referrals, or metasearch, with its Instant Booking transactions, they didn’t get much solace.

TripAdvisor reported its third quarter results Tuesday and in prepared remarks the company indicated that while Instant Booking made some progress in the U.S. in terms of growth in click-based and transaction revenue, and revenue per hotel shopper — a key metric — outside the U.S. revenue per hotel shopper faced “significant headwinds.”

Overall, revenue per hotel shopper in the third quarter declined 12 percent to $0.45. Revenue per hotel shopper faces pressure because of the transition from desktop to mobile, and metasearch to transactions, and the conversion hurdles on relatively small-screen mobile devices.

If investors were looking for signs of improvement, at least the revenue per hotel shopper decline was slower than it was in the third quarter of 2015, before Instant Booking was rolled out globally, when it was 19 percent.

TripAdvisor stated, though, that advertising and revenue per hotel shopper trends improved in October.

“On the user side, total average monthly unique hotel shopper growth stabilized in the quarter, and improved each month from the soft June and July,” the company stated. “We continue, however, to experience hotel shopper growth headwinds on desktop, due to the shift to mobile devices as well as the general travel market and competitive backdrop.”

In after-hours trading, TripAdvisor’s stock price declined more than 12 percent to around $55 per share. The market doesn’t seemingly have much patience for TripAdvisor’s self-identified long game.

TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer stated at the Skift Global Forum in New York City in September that the company remains committed to Instant Booking and is focusing on the company’s long-term interests.

“We are still in the early days of re-educating users about our end-to-end user experience, building repeat behavior and plugging the monetization leak in our business. We believe this journey will pay off financially, but will take time,” TripAdvisor stated. “Consistent with our past commentary, we play the long game and remain focused on building for the long-term.”

TripAdvisor states that its Instant Booking transition is now in “phase 3.”

“With phase two of our instant booking initiative completed in the second quarter, we spent the third quarter focused on phase three: improving our hotel shopping experience to drive increased user engagement and better conversion and more bookings for partners. We are furthest along in the U.S., and we remain hard at work deepening relationships with large hotel chains, OTAs, and with an ever-increasing number of independent hotels, in order to further enhance our best price value proposition.”

Overall for the third quarter, TripAdvisor’s net income was flat at $78 million on $421 million in revenue, an increase of just 1 percent.


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Tags: earnings, instant booking, tripadvisor

Photo credit: TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer (right) told Skift CEO Rafat Ali during the Skift Global Forum in September that TripAdvisor was committed to seeing the company's Instant Booking initiative succeed. Skift

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