Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hitwise talks up Trip Advisor

A couple of weeks ago I went to San Francisco and stayed in a fantastic bed and breakfast that I found on TripAdvisor. I couldn't resist and checked Hitwise data to see how the site is fairing - in short, very well!

TripAdvisor joined the 100 most visited websites based on UK visits in the week ending 30th July 2005 and hit a high the week ending the 18th of February, ranking 83rd among all websites based on UK visits. In February the site ranked 10th among Travel websites.

The share of UK visits to TripAdvisor increased 37% year on year in February - healthy growth compared to the average of 7% for the Travel - Destinations and Accommodations category. Trip Advisor's brand strength has grown significantly - with searches for 'trip advisor' more than doubling year on year last week.

TripAdvisor receives most of its traffic from search engines - accounting for 52% of visits to the site in February. Of these, Google (combined UK and .com) accounted for 70%. Trip Advisor sends 74% of its own traffic to Travel websites, with 41.3% going to Travel Agencies and 31.89% going to Destination and Accommodation websites. The top downstream sites (those visited after TripAdvisor) are those that are prominently displayed in sponsored listings and those that offer price comparisons on hotels listed on the site. Expedia.co.uk, which owns TripAdvisor, received nearly one quarter (22.49%) of visits from Trip Advisor in February. Hotels.com UK received 4.29% of visits, Venere.com received 2.91%, Lastminute.com received 2.89%, and eBookers received 1.80%.

It is not only the big advertisers that are getting traffic from Trip Advisor. Among the top 500 downstream sites from TripAdvisor in February were Sunrise, a resort in Turkey, and Nant ddu Lodge Hotel, a country inn near Cardiff.

By offering reviews of hotels and destinations by individual travelers, TripAdvisor hosts huge amounts of constantly updated content - a feature that helps the site appear among the top organic listings on the search engines. In the past four weeks. there were 38,923 search terms sending visits to TripAdvisor. Among the top 20 were 'blackpool', 'hilton blackpool', 'london attractions', 'paradisus rio de oro' and 'liverpool'.

TripAdvisor attracts 46% more visits from those aged 55+ than average for the internet highlighting the site's strength with "silver surfers". 62% of visits to the site are from those in Social Grade A/B and C1. The Mosaic Group "Symbols of Success" is the Experian Mosaic Group that is most highly indexed on the site. The Symbols of Success group are 61% more likely to be on Trip Advisor than average for the internet. According to offline statistics compiled by Experian, this group is 152% more likely to book three or more holidays per year and 91% more likely to book holidays online - and so represents a lucrative demographic for travel sites.

I should mention that this blog post not only illustrates the strength of Trip Advisor but also reveals the power of Hitwise data to evaluate a potential affiliate or advertising partner. Firms can use Hitwise data to evaluate an affiliate by examining the relevance of search terms sending visits, upstream and downstream websites, and the demographic and lifestyle profile of visitors.

Heather Hopkins, director of research at online analyst, Hitwise

Read more from Heather here

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