Terrifies Hotel owners
Once upon a time, guidebook writers decided with a keyboard stroke which hotels, lodges, restaurants, and destinations thrived or died. Now we all do. That’s largely thanks to Stephen Kaufer, 49, a Harvard computer-science major and software developer who recognized the power of the crowd. In 2000, he brought Amazon.com’s customer-review model to the travel industry with TripAdvisor. Since then, the company has added ratings for airlines and vacation rentals, mobile apps, and a flight meta-search engine. The design is archaic, but that doesn’t stop 50 million people in 30 countries from visiting TripAdvisor sites every month, making it the world’s largest online travel platform. (Meanwhile, sales of travel guidebooks plummet by about 10 percent each year.) The influence is undeniable: a cottage industry of reputation-management firms has emerged to shape hotel reviews.
By the Numbers 25: new reviews posted on TripAdvisor every minute
Second Opinion “It changed everything,” says Christopher Elliott, the reader advocate for National Geographic Traveler and cofounder of the Consumer Travel Alliance. “It’s a problematic thing to have so much power. Now hotels design their entire social-media strategy based on TripAdvisor.”