Frenemy relationships have a storied history in the push and pull of the travel industry. Tripadvisor's relationship with Google seems to have improved, and there are probably several areas where they might collaborate further.
Tripadvisor is currently attempting a turnaround under a new CEO hired in 2022, and one of the reasons it needs one is Google had used its market power to divert users to sponsored ads and take back the free traffic Tripadvisor benefited from.
In 2012, a U.S. Federal Trade Commission staff report found that Google, starting in 2006, used Tripadvisor’s user reviews on Google.com without Tripadvisor’s permission. Google ended the practice and today has its own trove of user-written reviews.
But earlier this month, that new Tripadvisor CEO, Matt Goldberg, said at an investor conference that his company is having “really good conversations” with Google about a potential partnership.
“When I say they [Google] want us to exist, that’s for multiple reasons,” Goldberg told financial analyst Richard Clarke at a Bernstein conference. “Number one, they’ve got regulatory challenges. They would like to have competitors in these spaces. They do not want to destroy the competition… We are a paying user of Google. They want us to continue to pay. And so we have really good conversations around how we can differentiate, how we can focus on what we’re going to do best, and how we can partner there.”
To be clear, Tripadvisor and its Viator tours and activities brand already spend a ton of money on Google ads and other sponsored placements. But Google is making a big push in offering “things to do,” and Tripadvisor/Viator is likely the largest player in the world, so there are potential areas for a deeper relationship.
Over the years, Tripadvisor has been one of the most aggressive voices in the travel industry calling on regulators to level the playing field regarding Google’s business practices as they impact competitors — and some say travelers, as well.
Goldberg said at the investor conference that he isn’t approaching discussions with Google naively.
“And of course, we’re not rosy eyed about it,” he said. “We recognize that Google has, in many ways, advantaged their own monetization, and that’s had an impact on us. But we are very focused on differentiating and finding ways that we can cooperate that will be effective for us.”
Skift has reached out to Google for comment.
Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch
Photo credit: An Athens hop-on hop-off bus tour. Tripadvisor and Google are having conversations about a partnership. Source: Flickr/Flaco Ermert https://www.flickr.com/photos/132646954@N02/29932499797/in/photolist-MB2TmH-fnB1ZD-9DL77q-cgw58b-29YsHok-Ahz4ka-h2BSCy-CTL7Ld-exgeoM-eFaq5m-dfp9jb-21o4bTN-bLGTei-hcuwzy-oDi65e-vAZe29-fnRcdN-hcuAWN-ChMq3R-dbhCu7-exgmSc-cQn1tm-5xQPJo-26tiou1-21evMzG-2edhD4b-JsjFqb-29mLNML-4z9Q9d-4z9NVY-4z5AY2-CbmDcM-hcuJ6Y-2ccF7E9-6RUA6z-qcJ1b8-cQmYe5-2aR6fSq-Ho4BQa-cWEsAN-YtMg9R-2fug4Y9-xPo1n4-23BRDUj-9x5gPD-2cF3XjD-2bh9Xs2-25HgStU-4z9NjU-4z5wrn Falco Emert / flickr.com