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Forbes.com

TripAdvisor: Boosting Mobile With Savvy Dealmaking

It’s definitely been a solid year for TripAdvisor (TRIP), whose stock is up 53%.

And a key part of the growth has been from mobile. In the latest quarter, the average monthly mobile uniques reached 62 million, up 300% on a year-over-year basis.

But the mobile strategy has been really an evolution. “Back in 2009,” said Adam Medros, vice president of global product for TripAdvisor, “we were getting about 1 million users a month coming to our website via mobile devices.”

So the first step was to optimize the webiste to allow for a better mobile experience, with a focus on finding hotels and reading reviews.

But this was mostly a stop-gap. With mobile traffic continuing to surge at a rapid clip, Adam knew he had to make a bolder play. “We didn’t just want to be good enough,” he said.

To this end, he led a big investment in engineering and a focus on native development for iOS and Android.

Yet this would probably not be enough, either. That is, Adam also went on the hunt for deals.

One startup that caught his attention was EveryTrail. The company had a popular app that allowed users to record their hikes and share them with friends, such as on social networks.

Might this be the launchpad for a broader take on the travel business?

Definitely.

But a deal would also have other benefits. Consider that EveryTrail allowed the company to move into a new category.

Keep in mind that the original business for TripAdvisor was, well, planning for trips. But with EveryTrail, the company could become a major part of its customers’ experience while on a trip.

Yet Adam did not take control of EveryTrail. Instead, he allowed the team to stay in its current office — in Silicon Valley — and gave them lots of independence to innovate.

“TripAdvisor could help with distribution and content,” said Adam. “As for EveryTrail, it could focus on fresh thinking and a mobile-first approach.”

It’s certainly worked extremely well. EveryTrail actually led to another key app: City Guides.

“We realized some important things,” said Adam. “When in another country, a user does not want to pay expensive roaming data charges. This means having more content on the phone itself.”...