TripAdvisor, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary, was one of the pioneers in user generated content to promote businesses, improve travel experiences and generally to make life easier. However, founder Stephen Kaufer, who along with Langley Steinert and a few others created the site above a pizza shop in 2000, were not thinking of user generated content from the very beginning; the development was serendipitous.
Stephen Kaufer told BBC Radio, “We started as a site where we were focused more on those official words from guidebooks or newspapers or magazines. We also had a button at the very beginning that said ‘visitors, add your own review’ and boy, did that just take off. Pretty soon, the number for average consumer reviews far surpassed the number of professional reviews. That is when the site really turned into this collection of what the normal traveler was saying about wherever they were going.”
On its blog, TripAdvisor recounted some of the milestones it has experienced in its 15 years. It is now the world’s largest travel site with 2.5 billion unique users in 2014 and 200 million reviews. The site has evolved from a place where the prospective traveler tries to find the best deals to where he or she plans the entire trip, from flight to tours to hotels.