Travel website TripAdvisor was launched in 2000 as an alternative to the sales pitch offered by travel agents and brochures helping travellers plan their trips using reviews based on the experiences of others. Now it is the world’s largest travel website with more than 40 million users every month. This week the website is celebrating 50 million reviews.
The website reportedly receives more than 25 new contributions every minute as travellers can give their personal views on hotels, flights, restaurants and tourist attractions. Users give a star rating as well as a short text review. Over time, as each attraction receives multiple reviews, a consensus is formed allowing users to easily gauge the best places to visit.
Hotel officials are free to comment on any reviews but this doesn’t satisfy some proprietors. Many argue that the reviews are completely unsolicited, and as users are not required to submit any evidence of their visit, rogue users could post commercially damaging and potentially libellous comments. Conversely it is possible those in the commercial sector could post glowing reviews of their own businesses to boost trade.
TripAdvisor would say that its huge-number of users act as a form of self-regulation, but the site also conducts systematic screenings to find any suspicious reviews. It is also possible for users to check the history and contributions of reviewers to help assess their reliability.
TripAdviser was founded by Harvard computer science graduate Stephen Kaufer following a trip to Mexico. Having been given poor information from brochures and agents, he set up the site as somewhere for travellers to get impartial and honest views. Little could he have known that 11 years later his site, and those of its kind, would play such a vital role in the tourist industry.
This 50 million review milestone demonstrates just how popular the site has become with consumers, as content has doubled in just 2 years. Originally based in America the brand has expanded into 27 countries, including France, India, Japan, Russia, the U.K. and Argentina.