TripAdvisor Wants to Become Your Social Media Network for Travel

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TripAdvisor is going social.

What started as a site for travel reviews is pivoting to become a social media hub for travelers, providing a personalized travel planning experience that combines reviews and recommendations from friends, publishers, and influencers, the company announced Monday.

“We’re disrupting travel once again. We’re going from the world’s largest travel site to the most personalized travel community,” said TripAdvisor CEO and co-founder Steve Kaufer.

Though currently in beta mode, the new TripAdvisor will launch by the end of the year.

The new site and mobile app will be centralized around a “Travel Feed,” which brings together photos, article links, and recommendations into one platform. Users can save this content within “Trips:” essentially interactive travel itineraries, where users can see all their hotels, tours, and restaurants saved for a certain vacation.

Those trips can be made private or public and shared with friends and followers.

Kaufer said that the new redesign bridges the gap between when influencers post travel inspiration on social media and when consumers are actually looking for that information to plan a trip.

Jeff Chow, vice president of product, demonstrated for members of the media on Monday how to use the Travel Feed to search for recommendations in Portland, Maine, stumbling across a video a friend took of a restaurant, posted in 2015. TripAdvisor’s algorithm resurfaces that relevant information, making it easier to organize travel advice from friends, he said.

The new app is mobile-first, with a redesign that prioritizes scrolling and discovery over search.

“It’s all tailored for you,” Chow said. “We’re creating new ways to share with articles, photos … making this effortlessly discoverable.”

A redesigned profile page will allow users and brands to showcase trip itineraries or other social content and even repost content their friends have shared. Users can link their social content to a certain place, so that reviews and booking information for that restaurant, hotel, or tour appear alongside the post.

“We want to make sure that every inspirational content is actionable,” Chow said. 

Prices for hotels might appear when you click on a friend’s photo of their suite, or TripAdvisor might suggest related tours when you watch a Travel Channel video about the best art museums in Italy.

TripAdvisor’s Travel Feed uses machine learning technology to understand where a user is in their trip—in the middle of it, or just in the initial planning phase—and digests information on previous travel to provide relevant content in a user’s feed.

Using location data, the app could also send notifications to travelers when they’re nearby a site or restaurant a friend has reviewed on the site.

Beyond the utility it provides for travelers, Kaufer said TripAdvisor will become “a marketplace for content creators and content consumers,” fostering connections with “the people and brands that you trust.”

Publishers like National Geographic, Pop Sugar, and the Travel Channel are some of the first major partners.

“We expect our participation on the new TripAdvisor to really inspire people,” said a representative from National Geographic.