Marketing: Process or Philosophy?
Marketing is a multifaceted and complex concept that involves numerous theories, models, techniques, values, and business management approaches. Given such complexity of this issue, marketing is commonly addressed as a process and as a philosophy. On the one hand, marketing is approached as a process that involves a series of steps of a company’s interaction with its consumers. Since several stages of the involvement of a prospective customer in the interaction with a product or service promoted by a company imply development, marketing might be regarded as a process.
However, the overall purpose of marketing is in the delivery of values to the customers and the utilization of users’ values for better abilities to meet their needs. Indeed, according to Ruiz de Sabando, Forcada Sainz, and Zorrilla Calvo (2018), in the modern world, marketing is defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large” (p. 41). As follows from this definition, marketing reaches beyond the mere order of stages as implied by the process and focuses on the implementation of strategies and value-based considerations as a means of connecting with the target market.
Moreover, marketing activities are aimed at integrating external and internal environment influential factors to guide the overall business process. Any company is regarded as an enterprise that functions within a socio-economic domain, “which is accompanied by the transformation of its internal and external relations, and as a result the development of a complex socio-economic system” (Raiko and Cherepanova, 2019, p. 193). To be able to operate in a highly competitive and ever-changing environment of this socio-economic system, a company must follow a well-defined set of values, guidelines, and pivotal aspects that define the philosophical direction of the organization. Therefore, marketing is a philosophy that prioritizes customers’ needs and satisfaction by all means.
Company Introduction: Trip Advisor as a Travel Industry Company
The travel industry has expanded with the development of transportation, international ties, and economic globalization. The world in the twenty-first century is more integrated than ever before with the traveling opportunities becoming available for more and more people every year. Given such a tendency, there is a high level of competition between the companies operating in this industry. Moreover, since the advancement of information technologies allows for reaching customers across the globe, the competition reaches beyond the physical borders of particular countries.
Trip Advisor is an American organization that hosts an online platform providing travel information to its customers around the world. The primary services the company offers include reviews and opinions on “accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines, and cruises” (Trip Advisor, 2020, para. 1). The company posits itself as a travel companion that targets hundreds of millions of users by providing and continuously updating the content of the website and app with more than 878 million reviews (Trip Advisor, 2020). As the information provided in Appendix 1 demonstrates, the company has generated 1.56 billion dollars in 2019, which is almost 1 million dollars less than in the previous year (Revenue of TripAdvisor worldwide from 2008 to 2019, 2020). The geographies in which Trip Advisor targets its customers include all world, which is validated by the fact that this service is available in 49 markets and 28 languages (Trip Advisor, 2020). Thus, the company is one of the largest travel agencies in the world that strives to obtain a competitive advantage in the industry on a global scale by expanding its operations in multiple markets and geographies.
Such an active presence of Trip Advisor in the economic environment of the travel industry implies a strong influence of competition. Indeed, there are multiple competitors that Trip Advisor encounters, which include some large corporations. They include Booking.com, Home Exchange, Airbnb, Home Away, and other travel companies (Hajibaba and Dolnicar, 2018). The majority of the leading competitors also operate in over one hundred countries and implement a similar peer-to-peer information exchange approach in their businesses. Overall, Trip Advisor is a leader in its industry among its competitors, and it continuously strives for improvement when implementing its marketing strategies.
Changes in the Company’s Operating Environment in the Last Five Years
Since the time of its founding in 2000, Trip Advisor has overcome significant changes in both the external and internal marketing environment. The concept of the marketing environment, which is introduced and defined in Appendix 2, implies a set of factors within the organization and beyond it that predetermine marketing strategies and the overall business management decision-making. According to Camilleri (2018), the external environment or macroenvironment is comprised of market forces, such as “political, economic, social and technological forces” (p. 51). Over the past five years, Trip Advisor managed to mitigate the influence of external factors by implementing marketing strategies for better consumer engagement.
The company implemented a revolutionary approach to service creation through direct interaction with users, which has never been done before (Kinstler, 2018). The social implications of the diminished trust toward conventional travel agencies were transformed by means of a new approach. Indeed, Trip Advisor created a platform for “constantly updated information about every imaginable element of travel, courtesy of an ever-growing army of contributors who provide their services for free” (Kinstler, 2018, para. 4). Thus, the corporation expanded its scope by initiating cooperation with multiple businesses and brands that are positioned as subsidiaries of Trip Advisor, Inc. (Trip Advisor, 2020). In such a manner, the social particularities of the environments in different countries have been addressed through customized approaches provided by subsidiary websites and apps specific to separate countries.
Another change that occurred due to external forces is the increase of international operations with the help of online technology advancement. In response to the global changes toward the mobility of people and more frequent use of electronic devices and the Internet, Trip Advisor expanded its operations beyond the USA. Indeed, as stated by Byng (2015), “everything is now mobile …companies are more accessible, allowing for a much more global profile” (para. 14). As a result, now Trip Advisor is “the largest review site on the planet accounting for more reviews than the next ten review sites combined with over 50 million reviews” (Youssef, 2017, p. 9). Being able to utilize the technological advancement and globalization trends in people’s everyday life, the company managed to shape its unique marketing and overall business philosophy that unites the opinions of users from different corners of the world to create high-quality reliable content.
Importantly, as a brand, Trip Advisor launched a trend in the travel industry that shifted the direction of consultations toward user-to-user review distribution. Moreover, using the brand name, the company has created and enhanced its positive image among its customer by creating a reputation as a reliable information source (Byng, 2015). In such a manner, Trip Advisor has demonstrated that it not only responds effectively to macroenvironmental factors but also uses the potential of change to expand its performance scope, improve the quality of service, and launch new trends in the industry of travel as a whole.
It is worth mentioning that the most recent external environment changes influenced by the global COVID-19 pandemic have caused significant alterations in the travel industry’s functioning and encouraged companies to seek alternative marketing ideas. Trip Advisor maintains the reputation of a travel companion on whom customers may always rely by analyzing and effectively addressing user needs (See Appendix 2). As stated by Sorrells (2020), Trip Advisor makes “updates to its platform to help travelers find and corroborate health and safety measures being implemented by hotels and restaurants” (para. 1). By means of frequent posting of news and guidelines on how to adjust trip planning and cancel the booking, the company managed to provide continuous support to its user, thus maintaining their loyalty in times of crisis. From the marketing perspective on customer needs, Trip Advisor met users’ economic and emotional needs.
As demonstrated in Appendix 1, the company has had significant financial losses during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic with its traveling restrictions and economic implications. Indeed, in 2019, the total revenue of the organization was 1.52 billion dollars, which is much lower than in 2018, when the total revenue was 1.6 billion (Revenue of TripAdvisor worldwide from 2008 to 2019, 2020). Despite such a decrease in the financial situation caused by the external forces, the corporation was able to mitigate its losses and prioritized consumers’ interests since users are the primary contributors to the content on which Trip Advisor builds its business.
Another source of change is the internal marketing environment that leads a company in the direction of more enhanced consumer-centered decision-making. This microenvironment is comprised of “forces which are close to the companies themselves, forces which will affect their ability to serve customers” (Camilleri, 2018, p. 59). In particular, the microenvironment is defined by the resources used by a company, its capital structure, staff and leadership capabilities, goals, marketing opportunities and intermediaries, and competitors. For Trip Advisor, the changes inside the company related to the company goals that targeted global expansion beyond the USA borders were triggers for exploring new marketing intermediaries. As the official website of the company states, Trip Advisor has generated a wide range of subsidiaries. The corporation has managed to “own and operate a portfolio of travel media brands and businesses, operating under various websites and apps” (Trip Advisor, 2020, para. 2). Thus, the company effectively responded to the most significant changes in the external and internal forces of the marketing environment and was able to maintain a reputable brand name, the loyalty of customers, and stable revenue generation.
Trip Advisor’s Approach to Creating Value for Customers
Within the marketing philosophy framework, creating value for stakeholders and primarily for customers is the driving force of an organization’s marketing strategy. As a company that focuses on travel experience support and online advertising related to travel, Trip Advisor creates value through information delivery and experience improvement. As pointed out by Bloom (2017), “Trip Advisor creates value for its readers because of its massive – and growing – accumulation of candid reviews of hotels, restaurants, activities, and sights around the world” (para. 5). Indeed, the primary customer value is generated by collecting and posting real updated reviews on the website about all available hotels, restaurants, sights, cafes, and other destination points.
The most recent findings in the industry of traveling support the assumption that word of mouth is the most reliable and approachable element in travel-related decision-making. According to Filieri, Alguezaui, and McLeay (2015), the results of the research “have provided evidence that online consumer reviews influence hotel rooms sales and travelers’ purchase intentions about which destination to travel to … and which accommodation to the book” (p. 175). In the contemporary world where online content gives answers to many questions, Trip Advisor utilizes this tendency to encourage consumer-generated information, which is now as important as respected official sources of information (Filieri, Alguezaui and McLeay, 2015). Furthermore, modern consumers are aware of the marketing and advertising techniques of accommodation providers and travel agencies that are formal information sources, which is why the level of trust toward them is diminished. In such a manner, Trip Advisor, unlike other agencies in the industry, creates value by ensuring the trustworthiness of the content by allowing reviewers to contribute to the community’s knowledge.
A significant aspect of successful and sustainable value created by the corporation is related to the scope of entities that benefit from the value. Indeed, Trip Advisor manages to address the needs of all the involved parties, including businesses, reviewers, users, and others (Bloom, 2017). Reviewers benefit from the value through the company’s efforts aimed at encouraging posting reviews and contributing to the existing content. In addition, Trip Advisor “creates value for the proprietors of restaurants, hotels, by making them highly visible to potential customers” (Bloom, 2017, para. 7). Since both travel service providers and travelers benefit equally from the content generated by Trip Advisor reviewers and businesses, the website and its apps have become a perfect advertising platform that drives the trends in the travel industry (Bloom, 2017; Filieri, Alguezaui and McLeay, 2015). Importantly, the corporation is efficient in maintaining the generated value through the enhanced improvement of its operations and interaction with the main constituents.
Another critical element of value creation initiated by Trip Advisor is pricing. Since the provision of the reviews and opinions for the users is free of charge, the company creates value inaccessibility of the content that has become a key aspect of travel choices in the life of a modern traveler (Trip Advisor, 2019). That is why online advertising is an important factor in creating value for businesses that also constitute the corporation’s user population. In an attempt to create value with its shareholders, the company has developed a specific compensation philosophy, the primary aim of which is “to design pay opportunities that align with our performance and result in strong long-term value creation for our stockholders” (Trip Advisor, 2019, p. 28). Thus, long-term commitment and building loyalty are the pivotal elements of value creation in Trip Advisor’s marketing philosophy.
Marketing Strategy Implementation Assessment and Recommendations
Trip Advisor is currently one of the leaders in the industry of online travel. Its marketing strategy presents a set of techniques that involve innovative solutions, technology use, and consumer focus that helps the company create value and expand its operations. According to the 2019 annual financial report submitted by Trip Advisor, the company articulates its marketing strategy based on enhanced competition. Indeed, the corporation competes “for content, traffic, advertising dollars and, more generally, to attract and retain our users’ attention, both in terms of reach and engagement” (Trip Advisor, 2019, p. 5). The company reports that it invests primarily in experience improvement, an increase in listings and inventory for booking, as well as an increase in consumer awareness.
An important aspect of a successful marketing strategy is the utilization of multiple marketing channels, which include online-based platforms, such as e-mails, social media promotion, and online search engines, and offline, which is television advertising (Travel Advisor, 2019). Importantly, the company invests efforts in maintaining its reputable brand name. Since the modern world lives in a time “when word of mouth is the number one driver of sales and competitive advantage” in business (Youssef, 2017, p. 5). Therefore, it is pivotal for the company to ensure that it is a reliable service provider for its loyal consumers.
The critical analysis of the marketing strategy used by the company involves an identification of the most influential factors and the activities that the corporation initiates in response to those factors. Using a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of the marketing strategies utilized by Trip Advisor, one might evaluate and critically interpret the current marketing situation and make relevant recommendations for future development and improvements.
Table 1. SWOT Analysis matrix for Trip Advisor.
|Strengths ||Opportunities |
|Weaknesses ||Threats |
As the table shows, there are multiple strengths in the currently utilized marketing strategy, which justifies the leading position of Trip Advisor in the market. The strengths that most prominently influence the marketing decision-making in the company include maintained value creation for customers, businesses, reviewers, and all other involved parties (Bloom, 2017). Innovations in marketing opportunities and channels as a competitive advantage are also strengths of the company. The lack of payment for consumers’ usage of the content and the positive brand reputation and company image contribute to the list of advantages (Trip Advisor, 2019). A wide range of subsidiaries elevates the accessibility of the content and allows for market segmentation based on user geographic positioning and preferences (Trip Advisor, 2020). Finally, the global presence of the company and its high-quality customer-generated content make the platform a reliable source of information that maintains customers’ loyalty.
The weaknesses are identified based on the researched information and the observed marketing activities utilized by the company. Business owners have repeatedly initiated lawsuits and demanded removal reviews on the basis of harassment. According to Kinstled (2018), “from 2015 to 2017, TripAdvisor users removed more than 2,000 reviews from the site” due to the above-mentioned reason (para. 39). Although some strategies have been initiated to regulate critical reviews and ensure the usage of proper language, the issue remains relevant and requires addressing and control. As for the threats, the company is recommended to advance its coping mechanisms to respond to the continuous COVID-19-related economic and traveling implications, as well as solidify its competitive advantage to win the competition in the market.
Based on the observed marketing strategy, its SWOT analysis, and interpretation, one might make several recommendations for Trip Advisor to consider implementing for more effective utilization of marketing strategies. While it is recommended for the company to enhance and improve the areas of strengths, minimize weaknesses, and address threats to mitigate the risks, the most valuable area for recommendations is the opportunities. As the analysis demonstrates, the opportunities for Trip Advisor’s improvement and ineffective marketing strategy utilization include new suggestions and recommendations for maintaining the achieved results. Firstly, Trip Advisor should continuously increase and improve the quality of work of subsidiaries and partners. Secondly, it might expand its operations to include more travel-related activities. Thirdly, innovative solutions and technology applications should be prioritized to win the competition and improve service provision. Fourthly, the market should be more diversified and segmented to enhance customer-oriented content provision. Finally, continuous users’ education to utilize the platform for the most beneficial experience will also contribute to the generated value and strengthen the company’s leading position in the highly competitive market environment.
Bloom, S. (2017) TripAdvisor: It’s not about the destination – it’s about disrupting the travel guide industry on the journey. Digital Innovation and Transformation. Web.
Byng, R. (2015) 15 years of Tripadvisor: How 200 million reviews changed the way we travel. The Independent. Web.
Camilleri, M. A. (2018) The marketing environment. In Travel marketing, tourism economics and the airline product (pp. 51-68). Springer, Cham.
Forbes (2020) TripAdvisor (TRIP). Web.
Filieri, R., Alguezaui, S. and McLeay, F. (2015) Why do travelers trust TripAdvisor? Antecedents of trust towards consumer-generated media and its influence on recommendation adoption and word of mouth. Tourism Management, 51, pp. 174-185.
Hajibaba, H. and Dolnicar, S. (2018) Airbnb and its competitors. In Peer-to-peer accommodation networks: Pushing the boundaries, pp. 63-76. Goodfellow Publishers Ltd.
Kinstler, L. (2018) How TripAdvisor changed travel. The Guardian. Web.
Nasdaq (2020) TripAdvisor, Inc. common stock. Web.
Raiko, D. and Cherepanova, V. (2019) ‘Creation of the image and brand of the enterprise on the basis of marketing as a philosophy of management, Baltic Journal of Economic Studies, 5(2), pp. 191-205.
Revenue of TripAdvisor worldwide from 2008 to 2019 (2020) Web.
Ruiz de Sabando, A. L., Forcada Sainz, F. J. and Zorrilla Calvo, M. P. (2018) ‘The marketing orientation as a university management philosophy: A framework to guide its application’, Cuadernos de Gestion, 18(2), pp. 37-58.
Sorrels, M. (2020) Tripadvisor adds new COVID-response filters, prompts travelers to share safety details in reviews. Phocus Wire. Web.
Trip Advisor (2020) About Tripadvisor. Web.
Trip Advisor (2019) 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K. Web.
Youssef, K. B. (2017) Using TripAdvisor reviews as tools to manage reputation by acting on the 7P’s of service marketing: An exploratory study. International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management, 5(6), pp. 1-19.
Appendix 1. Trip Advisor Detailed Company Information
|Targeted geographies||Provides reviews and opinions on travel destinations on a global scale (Trip Advisor, 2020).|
|Scope of business||Travel destination and accommodation website and app (Revenue of TripAdvisor worldwide from 2008 to 2019, 2020), travel-related activities and online advertising (Trip Advisor, 2019).|
|Number of reviews||More than 878 million reviews (Trip Advisor, 2020)|
|Total revenue in 2019 and 2018 (in million $)||$1,560,000 in 2019 (Nasdaq, 2020); $1,600,000 in 2018 (Revenue of TripAdvisor worldwide from 2008 to 2019, 2020)|
|Brand||Trip Advisor Inc. brand includes “localized versions of the website in 34 countries” (Forbes, 2020, para. 3)|
|Awards and Listings||#1 America’s Best Midsize Employers 2019 #62 Innovative Growth Companies 2017 (Forbes, 2020, para. 3)|
Appendix 2. Concept Definitions
Marketing environment is a number of external (macroenvironment) and internal (microenvironment) factors that determine the marketing decision-making of a company.
The external environment, or macroenvironment, is comprised of market forces, such as “political, economic, social and technological forces” (Camilleri, 2018, p. 51).
The internal environment, or microenvironment, includes the forces that exist inside the company and include the resources used by a company, its capital structure, staff and leadership capabilities, goals, marketing opportunities, and competitors (Camilleri, 2018).
The brand name is a company’s title that determines the public image of the organization and represents its uniqueness in the market (Youssef, 2017).
The needs of users/customers are the requirements a potential consumer has when choosing a product or a service to purchase.
SWOT analysis is a method of business assessment that allows for reviewing, systematizing, and critically assessing external and internal positive and negative factors that influence a company and drive the changes in it. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are the four categories into which all the factors are grouped for analysis.