Access, curation, and creating value for both consumers and suppliers are critical to the success of Tripadvisor's new subscription product, says a top executive. The company's still working out the kinks with Tripadvisor Plus, but the early word is promising.
Tripadvisor believes its new subscription product could become a new business line generating more than $1 billion a year. But that will likely only happen if the company can make the program about more than just a mechanism for consumers to get discounts on hotels, experiences, and other travel offerings.
That was the word from Brad Soroca, Tripadvisor’s vice president of marketing and business development and general manager of direct to consumer, when speaking about the effort on Wednesday at Skift Live’s Loyalty and Subscription Summit.
Tripadvisor is testing a subscription program, Tripadvisor Plus, and it has plans to unveil to all U.S. users by June. For design inspiration, the company has looked at which subscription programs have been popular with millennials and other digitally savvy consumers outside of travel.
“There are access models, there are curation models, and there are what could be called replenishment models,” Soroca said when speaking with Seth Borko, Skift Research’s Senior Research Analyst. Soroca said the company is looking to build a hybrid of the access and curation models.
“For curation, we sit on a data set that gives us a knowledge base about travelers and their interests,” Soroca said. “We can ultimately go out and match supply to what our paying members are going to be interested in. When you can do that, that’s incredibly powerful. Look at Stitch Fix, [an online personal styling service]. It’s done a great job with that.”
For access, Tripadvisor taps into its more than 400 million monthly visitors on the consumer side and hundreds of thousands of relationships with hotels and experiences on the supply side.
Tripadvisor Plus offers member-only savings on about 100,000 hotels, experiences, and perks for an annual charge of $99. The company’s goal is that its subscribers will get perks they will rarely get elsewhere if they book through its portal. Yet a report on Tripadvisor Plus earlier this month by Bernstein Research estimated that fewer than 10 percent of the program’s approximately 100,000 participating hotels are offering perks during this test phase.
“We’re asking for hotels that participate to have a minimum of 15 percent discount plus perks,” Soroca said. “The product is continuing to evolve. But our intent is to accomplish that.”
Soroca noted that the company is still in the testing phase. It plans to increase the perks and exclusives it offers members. (For more on Tripadvisor Plus, see Skift’s earlier coverage.)
“Our definition of success… will be when consumers are having amazing trips,” Soroca said. “It can’t be just about saving money.”
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Photo credit: Hotel Normandie in Los Angeles has been an early participant in Tripadvisor Plus, where it offers freshly baked cookies to members who book via the subscription program. Hotel Normandie