TripAdvisor changes its logo yet again in the face of reality.
For a long time I’ve been watching TripAdvisor. This online hotel review site is a classic ‘user generated content’ business: it has to juggle making it easy for users to add content (reviews) from a position of effective anonymity, with trying to ensure those reviews aren’t gamed for advantage (or disadvantage). It has to try to do these while avoiding litigation from hotel owners and disgruntled travellers alike. And it has to somehow make the content relevant enough to drive valuable and qualified traffic to parent company Expedia.
As I’ve said previously, I think this is an equation that can’t possibly work out. Not particularly because TripAdvisor is doing something wrong, but because you simply can’t mix anonymous reviews with commercial interests and create ‘trust’.
Without trust, a business like TripAdvisor has nothing.
While the ‘downgrading’ of its strapline from claims about truth and objectivity (what the traveller REALLY needs) to claims about itself being a big site (who cares??) is at least realistic, it’s a shame. It goes to prove that somewhere in TripAdvisor, the decision has already been made not to try to build a business with trust at its core and to pursue a shorter term strategy instead.
Why shorter term? Because many people using TripAdvisor or watching it professionally get the impression that hotel owners (and others) are gaming the system. Given the precariousness of the economy and the struggle that most hotels are experiencing, it is hardly surprising that many will seek to raise their standing in what is still the most frequently-consulted hotel review site.