Forget Instagram—TripAdvisor wants to be your main source of vacation photo spam

Forget Instagram—TripAdvisor wants to be your main source of vacation photo spam
Image: Reuters/Rafael Marchante
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Just when you thought you could not bear to see another Instagram post of a Mediterranean sunset or colorful tiled facade accompanied by the hashtag “#neverleaving,” TripAdvisor is giving vacationers a new and improved way to impose their photos on the world.

The internet’s largest travel company—which has 456 million average monthly unique users—announced yesterday an expansion of its offerings which will roll out before the end of the year. The new TripAdvisor will feature an expanded focus on social sharing and travel inspiration, and will integrate more professional-quality content from publishers and influencers.

While the site is best known as a place to read reviews of that random hostel you want to book in Thailand or a pizza spot in Naples, it’s also long been a place to book travel—although the site has previously struggled to convert users to the latter behavior. Now TripAdvisor seems to be doubling down on offering the kinds of of travel inspiration and aspirational content that users are routinely inundated with on networks like Instagram and Facebook.

While it’s always been possible to post pictures on TripAdvisor for a listing, the new format will give users expanded tools to create and view travel-related content including photos, videos and articles. Per a press release, the world’s first “travel feed” will give users a personalized feed, which is designed to help them with the discovery process of where to go and what to do when booking a trip. “For example, members planning a trip to Paris may see a food critic’s article on the best restaurant in the city, an influencer’s travel guide of ‘must-do’s, and a friend’s review of a new hotel near the Eiffel Tower.” In addition, a new “trips” function will allow users to create travel guides, itineraries, and wish lists—as well as share those with other users if they wish.

While the site previously was integrated with Facebook, TripAdvisor’s CEO Steve Kaufer said at the launch event that just seeing where your friends have stayed on TripAdvisor is not enough. “It’s about people you trust, which includes brands, influencers, very prolific authors, professionals—your Facebook friends are just one of those sources.” In other words: Be prepared to be inundated with travel content.

Not everyone is convinced it’s possible to be a one-stop travel shop for absolutely everything, from trip planning inspiration to the actual booking process itself. As Skift’s co-founder Dennis Schaal wrote, “No online travel agency has ever been able to effectively provide users with loads of travel inspiration while trying to get them to quickly make bookings before being lost to competitors’ sites. In other words, no company has succeeded at being everything to everyone.”

TripAdvisor is certainly going to try.