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TripAdvisor Abandons Plus Subscription to Prioritize Free User Experience

After three years, TripAdvisor discontinues its Plus subscription to enhance free membership benefits amid evolving consumer expectations.

TripAdvisor has officially announced the discontinuation of its Plus subscription program. Launched in June 2021, the subscription was initially intended to provide members with discounts and perks such as reduced rates on hotels and car rentals for a $99 annual fee. But now, the subscription is being halted just over three years after its inception, with the company now looking to enhance its free membership offerings.

TripAdvisor Plus was initially hailed as a potential game-changer for the travel industry, aiming to transform booking habits and supplier relationships. However, its transition to a cash-back model just three months after launch was a clear response to the difficulties of securing participation from larger hotel chains. 

Under the guidance of CEO Matt Goldberg who assumed his role in July 2022, TripAdvisor undertook a thorough review of its Plus program and uncovered the significant challenges the company faced in persuading consumers to adopt a paid service from a platform traditionally known for its free access. 

In announcing the end of the Plus program in an email to its subscribers, TripAdvisor emphasized its ongoing commitment to innovation and community service. Per reporting by Skift, Plus subscribers will receive a prorated refund for plans ending after April 15, 2024.

The company asserts that insights gained from the Plus initiative will inform its future strategies to provide more meaningful and engaging experiences for its users. By focusing on enhancing free memberships, TripAdvisor aims to cultivate deeper engagement and lifetime value among its most active users, moving away from the subscription-based model.

INSIDER TAKE

TripAdvisor’s decision to terminate its Plus subscription reflects consumer resistance to additional fees, especially for services from traditionally free platforms. The move also underscores the challenges faced by companies attempting to introduce subscription models in markets saturated with free alternatives. For TripAdvisor, its free membership benefits represent an adaptation to evolving market conditions and consumer expectations.

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