TripAdvisor plans a social network via new feed, site and partners

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Credit: TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor wants to be a one-stop-shop for consumers to share, plan and learn about trips. To reach that goal, the Needham, Massachusetts-based travel site is unveiling a new website and mobile offering later this year that gives consumers the option to connect with friends, influencers, brands and publishers to build social feeds and plan trips.

"One size fits all becomes a personalized trip for you," said Stephen Kaufer, chief executive and co-founder of TripAdvisor at an unveiling event in New York on Monday morning. "I'm an individual, I'm unique," he added, noting that consumers want to hear what other voices are saying, and then pick and choose accordingly. According to TripAdvisor data, 66 percent of trip planning incorporates reviews from other travelers, and 62 percent comes from friends and families sharing tips.

TripAdvisor users will have profile pages and the ability to gain followers and follow others.

In beta right now, the brand has signed on more than 500 partners including National Geographic, the Knot, GoPro and Goop for its new offering. The redesigned site should launch later this year. In the meantime, TripAdvisor will use social media and existing customer data to promote the changes, according to Neela Pal, VP of brand marketing. Next year, the brand will explore marketing the offerings through broadcast spots, most likely leveraging relationships with existing agencies Mistress, in LA and Joint, in London, Pal says.

Travel experts applauded TripAdvisor's strategy, noting that the transformation into more of a social site will enable the brand to be an inspiration destination.

"While they had great information, historically, TripAdvisor wasn't an inspiration-based site," says Robert Patterson, VP, marketing and technology at MMGY Global, a travel and hospitality marketing firm. "Now, they're allowing people to follow the brands and influencers in their own social sphere and can more easily capture users early in that process and keep them within their ecosystem." He notes that this move will allow TripAdvisor to stand out in what is becoming an increasingly noisy travel landscape with competitors including Airbnb and Google taking market share.

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