And while consumers would often complain about the annoyance that would come with multiple windows being triggered by a search, enough would click on a partner site to make it worthwhile for TripAdvisor and its advertisers. But things have been changing. For one thing, response rates to this inventory have gotten weaker and that put pressure on TripAdvisor to move towards something cleaner and more straightforward.
So TripAdvisor has started integrating all the search query results into the core page – providing what is known as meta search. But with the layer of display ads, TripAdvisor, like a number of other sites, including Google, have employed a hybrid: meta display. When you execute a query on TripAdvisor, you get the results on the page along with a map which pinpoints locations in users search results.
"It's not too different from what the other meta-search engines are doing or even Google is doing if you look at Hotels.Google.com," Fitzgerald says. "It delivers a better user experience and as usage patterns continue to migrate to mobile and tablet, that's a better type of presentation for the applicable form factors."
That's not the only cosmetic improvement TripAdvisor has implemented. Filters have also been added to make the search function and resulting display ads more appealing to users by segmenting results according to things like price, property type, chain, all of which provides for greater ability for consumers to drill down on the type of hotel most suitable to their interests. The idea of structuring its ads this way also dovetails with TripAdvisor's main function as a reviews site. Results can better match ratings by users generally or be more specific, such as matching ads to business travelers or family vacationers, people with pets, etc., Fitzgerald suggests.
The ads and results can also be integrated with TripAdvisor's social media tool, "Trip Friends," which lets users see if any of their Facebook friends have stayed at a given destination.
TripAdvisor says it's "always looking at ways to improve the user experience and we’re constantly experimenting with new features and functionality to help travelers plan and have the perfect trip," adding that "The enhancement allows users to see hotel pricing options at a room level detail and availability from our booking partners, all on one page."