Digital advertising revenue surely is a key motivation behind the new TripAdvisor China joint venture, but whether the dollars are guaranteed is another question in China's rich and innovative digital media landscape.
Trip.com Group says getting digital advertising revenues from its new TripAdvisor China joint venture is secondary to the need of providing global and more comprehensive content to its changing customers.
Going forward, however, Trip.com Group can be expected to maximize this stream of income.
“It does have a lot of great potential,” said the group’s CEO Jane Sun, addressing analysts in a briefing call on Thursday morning in China about TripAdvisor China.
Asked to quantify the potential, given that user engagement is expected to be higher as a result of greater content, Sun said, “As of now, the focus is to get the global information (from TripAdvisor) and present it in the most user-friendly way so that our customers will be very well-served. Advertising [revenue] is secondary, but it does have a lot of great potential later along the road.”
The Chinese online giant said Chinese customers are increasingly traveling the world while its customer base is also becoming more global, in particularly with Trip.com and Skyscanner. As such it has become important to provide reviews, opinions, and photos of accommodations and activities worldwide generated by other travelers, in local language.
“This way, our customers will have greater confidence to book at our platform and have a more comprehensive idea of what to expect when they arrive at a destination.
“This will generate growth, especially for Trip.com and Skyscanner,” Sun said.
Both platforms currently carry basic, limited reviews.
Trip.com Group will take the lead in the day-to-day running of TripAdvisor China. It owns the majority share, with TripAdvisor having a 40 percent stake.
Details on how Trip.com China will be using the content, however, such as where it will sit in its brands Trip.com, Skyscanner, Ctrip, and Qunar, and whether there could be overlaps in hotel listings and reviews, are sketchy.
“It will be presented in our brands. [As for] where the buttons are, we will be A/B testing,” Sun said.
An analyst also asked if there is already reviews-sharing between Trip.com Group and its seven-year partner Booking Holdings and how the new deal with TripAdvisor will tie in with Booking and the company’s global ambitions.
Sun said the company has always maintained an “open platform mentality.”
“Regarding our partnership with Booking and other partners, I think it’s very complementary. The world is very, very big, and every company has its own strength. And our philosophy has always been … an open platform, and whichever supplier or partner wants to have good access to our 300 million users, we are always open-minded, and [we] encourage them to list their products and information on our platform and we link them up with our users,” she said.
Booking Holdings in Asia did not respond to Skift’s request for a comment at press time.
Photo credit: Chinese tourists in Singapore. More of them are traveling the world. Raini Hamdi, Skift