Kayak claims Tripadvisor has ‘polluted the web’

Travel metasearch specialist Kayak will go head-to-head with Tripadvisor when it unveils its revamped reviews site at the end of March.

Kayak chief executive Steve Hafner said the company was planning a significant marketing push for Travelpost in the coming weeks.

Travelpost, he claimed, would do a better job on independent reviews than Tripadvisor.

“I don’t think the consumer sees Tripadvisor as comprehensive or unbiased. It is hard to get to the review and they don’t display the website address or contact details for the hotel.”

He added that Tripadvisor had become very “commercially driven.”

“It got an early lead and hotel reviews become synonymous with their brand name but over time they have polluted the web with over-commercialisation. I think we will do it much better.”

Hafner was speaking to Travolution in response to Tripadvisor’s launch of a flight metasearch tool, unveiled last week.

He said Kayak had been expecting the move for some time and predicted it would be kept  small so as not to cannibalise Expedia’s business.

“It will cannibalise it a bit but they will be careful about how much. I don’t think anyone is going to let Expedia be cannibalised, they will be very careful about how they manage it. I don’t think they are intending to spend marketing dollars pushing it.”

Hafner added that overall Tripadvisor’s flight booking tool would help grow the metasearch space.

“As more consumers become aware of the deficiencies of just searching Expedia or Orbitz they will embrace metasearch. Most people are not aware that Kayak or Tripadvisor even exist so as they become aware they will use them more often and prefer them.

He also said a hotels metasearch tool was unlikely.

“It would have been more interesting but they make a lot more money on hotels with the current model then they would on metasearch.”

A Tripadvisor spokesman said: “Tripadvisor’s unique users keep growing, as does its content, which indicates strongly that consumers still see TripAdvisor as an independent source for making decisions about their travel.”

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