The AdTech Evolution No. 4: Owl Vision

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Steve Kaufer could very well be the original TripAdvisor owl. No one knows for sure, but roomer has it the iconic brand mascot was actually modeled after him and his ability to spot distant opportunity. Steve co-founded Trip and has since been at the helm of its bold transition from travel review site into a full-service e-commerce platform.

  Steve Kaufer , CEO of TripAdvisor; original photograph by Tom Stockill; transformed by LUFT.

Steve Kaufer, CEO of TripAdvisor; original photograph by Tom Stockill; transformed by LUFT.

The company pivoted and acquired a couple of key assets in 2014. Investors ditched the stock as profitability slipped year over year. Those investments are starting to pay dividends. Wall Street likes Trip again. Read all about it here.

 Data Source: Company filings; Report:  2020 Outlook on TripAdvisor

Data Source: Company filings; Report: 2020 Outlook on TripAdvisor

Owl Vision

Last year, when Trip announced that it would launch a TV campaign to support its hotel product, we immediately thought - OWL VISION. 

Imagine: The travel shopper starts at home on the TripAdvisor app. Suddenly, he gets sucked in through his device into a magical land. The destination of his dreams. Waiting on the other side is a new world (enter soundtrack) where "owl vision" sets in. Owl eyes appear everywhere, layered over everything. Spinning on the rims of cars and bikes passing by, at the bottom of beer glasses, on swim suits, on volley balls, etc. Last few moments of the commercial. Traveler gets whisked back to living room and swipes "book". You get the idea. 

Needless to say, Trip's creative team went a different direction. A neutral albeit cute owl lounging around in a bathrobe in hotel rooms touting travel planning tips. Not bad. Do I need travel advise from an owl? Hotel booking sites are dime a dozen. Utility and trust. Is that what travel shoppers want? Are we selling hotel rooms or promises or both? TripAdvisor is all about the brand. We say spice it up. Go big. Go bold. Go lifestyle.

Anyway. TripAdvisor had a couple of encouraging quarters. Hotel profitability stabilized with top line gains from its non-hotel segment pushing consolidated revenues up 2% over the previous quarter. Bookable Experiences inventory grew 86%. Projected outward at roughly 12K new bookable experiences per quarter, TripAdvisor inventory could double by Q2 of 2020.   

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