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New TripAdvisor arm moves into cruise reviews, bookings

April 15, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

TripAdvisor, which claims the title of the world’s largest travel site, has moved into the cruise arena, launching TripAdvisor Cruise to “solve the complexity of planning and booking a voyage”, letting both new and seasoned cruisers write cruise ship reviews, share photos and shop.

The cruise review space has hitherto been dominated by Cruise Critic, which TripAdvisor also owns, having acquired it in 2007. Cruise Critic offers “over 150,000 cruise reviews, ship ratings and the largest cruise forum”, according to its website.

TripAdvisor says Cruise Critic will continue to operate independently alongside TripAdvisor Cruise, adding that the existence of Cruise Critic makes TripAdvisor Cruise “already an expert in the industry”.

“Building upon this rich history, TripAdvisor will apply those learnings and expertise to its massive audience of 490 million unique monthly users who place their trust in user generated content.”

The audience figure means that every month, about one in every 15 people on earth visits some tentacle of to research travel or adjust a trip.

Plenty of growth in cruising

Cruising, which can be lucrative for travel agents, is a big-ticket item which consumers customarily hesitate to buy online. When the giant online travel agent (owned by China-based Ctrip) launched in Australia last week, its head of marketing, Joanne Heggie, cited the reluctance of Australians to book cruising online as a reason was not currently pursuing the cruise market.

TripAdvisor is headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts. Way back in 2004, when TripAdvisor had only 5 million unique monthly visits, its founders sold the enterprise to the parent company of Expedia for USD 210 million in cash. Years later, TripAdvisor co-founder Stephen Kaufer said of the deal: “In hindsight, this was the stupidest move I ever made!”

Trip Advisor says its new cruise move “expands the TripAdvisor travel ecosystem by exposing cruise to up to half a billion monthly users.

“We know our community demands the best options while traveling, and by adding awe-inspiring cruises to our platform, we’re excited to support the continued growth of the overall cruise industry by bringing cruise to the world’s largest travel audience,” Bryan Saltzburg, president of TripAdvisor Flights, Cruise & Car, said.

“The addition of Cruise will help solve the complexity of planning and booking a voyage, supported by the confidence of rich user generated content with reviews and photos from millions of TripAdvisor members. For example, cruisers can research and book their flight to the port, a hotel room for the night before departure, review ‘Ship-tinerary’ pages, compare cabin options, book excursions, and read reviews all in one place.”

TripAdvisor headquarters in Needham, Massachusetts. Photo: Parker Harrington

According to data from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry continues to grow at a steady pace, with 30 million passengers expected to cruise in 2019, an increase of more than 34% in the past five years.

While this is the first time TripAdvisor will feature cruise reviews, based on 2018 TripAdvisor data, 32% of TripAdvisor users have cruised before and 44% are cruise shoppers.

New TripAdvisor says its new cruising platform will include:

  • User generated content – ability to read and write reviews and share candid traveller photos.
  • ‘Ship-tinerary’ pages – the most comprehensive tool in cruise planning. “Ship-tineraries” deliver robust ship profiles to help users quickly get a sense of “is this the right ship for me.” Featuring traveller reviews, advice and photos, as well as detailed amenities and itineraries, “Ship-tineraries” help travellers make a more informed decision about their trip with an unbiased, detailed view of ships across cruising options.
  • Price comparison – discover deals from partners for the lowest cruise prices globally.
  • Sort and filter cruises by cabin type, itineraries, price and more.
  • Large inventory – shop more than 70 thousand cruises – from ocean and luxury to river and adventure.

TripAdvisor Cruises, including its reviews and functionalities, went live on Friday in the US and UK:

The company says the experience “will continue to evolve with additional cruise lines, cruise ships, cruise ship deck plans, features and content, with expansion to other markets in the coming months”.

Written by Peter Needham

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