Posted May 24, 2007 10:08 am by with 3 comments

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By Roderick Ioerger

It is Simple and Brilliant. TripAdvisor has created a community that leverages user generated content to successfully attract incremental visitors and search engines to their site while creating a self-sustaining ad supported business model which TripAdvisor has had the patience to allow to mature.

But playing the waiting game can be tedious and apparently TripAdvisor has decided that, while it has become a master of the game, it might be time to become more proactive. Just this last week TripAdvisor announced their acquisition of five different travel community websites:

Thus TripAdvisor has secured their strangle hold on some of the best user generated content the web has to offer and cemented their position as the preeminent online travel resource. With their most recent acquisitions the TripAdvisor network of websites is now going to exceed 24 million monthly unique visitors. While this might not be very exciting news to most people, it should have a profound effect on the way marketers are looking at user generated content.

The success of the TripAdvisor business is based on their ability to acquire their content and that content doesn’t really come from a single visitor session, but rather it comes from the community that the visitor has
decided is interesting or worthy enough to want to become a part of and return to. Fostering the community is the key to getting the best and most relevant content and is the place where most businesses that want to build on the user generated content phenomenon fail.

Like so many things in life the eighty twenty rule applies to user generated content. Twenty percent or less of the most active and best users are going to generate eighty percent or more of the new content. With their acquisitions TripAdvisor is getting closer and close to dominating that twenty percent of visitors whom are willing to join a community and contribute in abundance to the travel industry.

While the acquisition of competitors who have profitable businesses is almost always a boon, the true strategic advantage TripAdvisor has accomplished in their acquisitions are the best and most active users from their competition and I am sure with just a little creative thinking TripAdvisor will have those users powering even more unique content across their entire network of newly acquired sites.

TripAdvisor is successfully showing the blue print of how to leverage user generated content, now the only question is the rest of the world watching? And who will be the next business to take this model and dominate a given online vertical in such a comprehensive way?

About Roderick Ioerger

Roderick Ioerger is an online marketing a travel industry veteran with time previously spent at Expedia Inc. parent company of TripAdvisor.

  • Actually when it comes to user participation, it’s not the 80-20 rule. It’s the Participation Inequality Rule (aka the 90-9-1 rule):

    “In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.”


  • Roderick,

    Since TripAdvisor is already known as dominating organic SERPs, the merger of all these other properties will only consolidate that position.

    How do you think other travel (like Travelocity, Orbitz etc) will respond in SEO? Build their own community sites? Focus on SEOing niche mini-websites for particular promotions?

    Since the travel industry is such a competitive space (even in SEO), I’m curious on what you think?



  • Ms. M.

    Tripadvisor has demonstrated three flaws in their user-generated content model:

    1) They do NOT moderate for accuracy of content. If the inaccuracies are reported to them, they respond with “However, we do not remove messages based on complaints of inaccurate, out-of-date, or misleading information. The onus is on the readers to consider the source of the information and follow-up with their own research – on our site or elsewhere – before making their travel plans”.

    2) They do not effectively instill a sense of community on the boards.

    3) They routinely appoint “experts” who are not knowledgeable, but just happen to post frequently.

    Should someone pick up where Tripadvisor leaves off, then they really WILL have something.