Monday, February 27, 2006

Welcome to the UK, Mr Kaufer

Is this a case of ambition getting in the way of reality…or does TripAdvisor know a thing or two about where the market is going?

The company’s global chief executive Stephen Kaufer, chatting this morning during a brief stopover in London, reckons the new UK site will become the third most popular online travel operation in the country by the end of the year. [Read the story here]

Hiding my surprise well, I soon realised he’s actually deadly serious.

The consumer review site has become a phenomenally important player in the travel industry since it launched in 2000, tickling the fancy of InterActiveCorp, which eventually snapped up the company in 2004.

What is most impressive about Kaufer’s claims is that he is determined to dominate the reviewing scene in one of the maturing online travel markets in Europe – here in the UK.

For starters the new site, which launched in the UK in January, will at some point during 2006 feature a section for consumers that want to comment on the leading tour operators, such as Thomson, Thomas Cook, First Choice and MyTravel – a first for TripAdvisor.

Kaufer reckons the tour operators will see TripAdvisor as a “free marketing vehicle”.

But this is a new area for the US company and some might argue that it has so far only dealt with the odd stroppy hotel or town at the receiving end of a scathing review and will find the full force of a tour operator a different proposition altogether.

But Kaufer hints that he doesn’t really care about all that – which is rather refreshing.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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