Annual Report


 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

Form 10-K

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from          to          

Commission file number: 001-35362

 

TRIPADVISOR, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

80-0743202

(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

400 1 st Avenue

Needham, MA 02494

(Address of principal executive office) (Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:

(781) 800-5000

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class:

 

Name of each exchange on which registered:

Common Stock, $0.001 par value

 

The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

 

Accelerated filer

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

 

Smaller reporting company

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes       No  

The aggregate market value of the common stock of the registrant held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter was $7,344,191,894 based on the closing price on The NASDAQ Global Select Market on such date. For the purpose of the foregoing calculation only, all directors and executive officers of the registrant are assumed to be affiliates of the registrant.

 

Class

  

Outstanding Shares at February 10, 2017

Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share

  

131,359,879 shares

Class B Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share

  

12,799,999 shares

 

Documents Incorporated by Reference

The registrant intends to file a proxy statement pursuant to Regulation 14A not later than 120 days after the close of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016. Portions of such proxy statement are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

 

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Table of Contents

 

 

  

 

 

Page

PART I

 

2

 

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

2

 

 

 

Item 1A.

  

Risk Factors

 

10

 

 

 

Item 1B.

  

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

27

 

 

 

Item 2.

  

Properties

 

27

 

 

 

Item 3.

  

Legal Proceedings

 

27

 

 

 

Item 4.

  

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

28

 

 

PART II

 

29

 

 

 

Item 5.

  

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

29

 

 

 

Item 6.

  

Selected Financial Data

 

32

 

 

 

Item 7.

  

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

34

 

 

 

Item 7A.

  

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

66

 

 

 

Item 8.

  

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

69

 

 

 

Item 9.

  

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

120

 

 

 

Item 9A.

  

Controls and Procedures

 

120

 

 

 

Item 9B.

  

Other Information

 

122

 

 

PART III

 

122

 

 

 

Item 10.

  

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

122

 

 

 

Item 11.

  

Executive Compensation

 

122

 

 

 

Item 12.

  

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

122

 

 

 

Item 13.

  

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

122

 

 

 

Item 14.

  

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

122

 

 

PART IV

 

123

 

 

 

Item 15.

  

Exhibits; Financial Statement Schedules

 

123

 

 

SIGNATURES

 

124

 

 

 

 

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We refer to TripAdvisor, Inc. and our wholly-owned subsidiaries as “TripAdvisor,” “the Company,” “us,” “we” and “our” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove incorrect, could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.  The statements contained in this Annual Report that are not purely historical are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act.  The following words, when used, are intended to identify forward-looking statements:  “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “project,” “result” “should,” “will,” and similar expressions which do not relate solely to historical matters.  We caution investors that any forward-looking statements in this report, or which management may make orally or in writing from time to time, are based on management’s beliefs and on assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management. Such statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions and are not guarantees of future performance, which may be affected by known and unknown risks, trends, uncertainties and factors that are beyond our control. Some of the risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements are more fully described in Part I. Item 1A. "Risk Factors".  Moreover, we operate in a rapidly changing environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for management to predict all such risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all such risk factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. We caution you that, while forward-looking statements reflect our good faith beliefs when we make them, they are not guarantees of future performance and are impacted by actual events when they occur after we make such statements. We expressly disclaim any responsibility to update our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Investors should also refer to our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q for future periods and current reports on Form 8-K as we file them with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, and to other materials we may furnish to the public from time to time through Current Reports on Form 8-K or otherwise, for a discussion of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements.

 

 

 

 

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PART I

 

Item  1.

Business

Overview

TripAdvisor, Inc., by and through its subsidiaries, owns and operates a portfolio of leading online travel brands. TripAdvisor, our flagship brand, is the world’s largest travel site, and its mission is to help people around the world plan, book and experience the perfect trip. We accomplish this by, among other things, aggregating millions of travelers’ reviews and opinions about destinations, accommodations, activities and attractions, and restaurants worldwide, thereby creating the foundation for a unique platform that enables users to research and plan their travel experiences. Our platform also enables users to compare real-time pricing and availability for these experiences as well as to book hotels, flights, cruises, vacation rentals, tours, activities and attractions, and restaurants, on either a TripAdvisor site or app, or a travel partner site or app.

Our TripAdvisor-branded websites include tripadvisor.com in the United States and localized versions of the TripAdvisor website in 48 markets and 28 languages worldwide. Our TripAdvisor-branded websites reached nearly 390 million average monthly unique visitors in our seasonal peak during the year ended December 31, 2016, according to our internal log files.  We currently feature approximately 465 million reviews and opinions on 7 million places to stay, places to eat and things to do – including 1,060,000 hotels and accommodations and 835,000 vacation rentals, 4.3 million restaurants and 760,000 activities and attractions worldwide.  

In addition to the flagship TripAdvisor brand, we manage and operate the following 23 other travel media brands, connected by the common goal of providing users the most comprehensive travel-planning and trip-taking resources in the travel industry: www.airfarewatchdog.com, www.bookingbuddy.com, www.citymaps.com, www.cruisecritic.com, www.familyvacationcritic.com, www.flipkey.com, www.gateguru.com, www.holidaylettings.co.uk, www.holidaywatchdog.com, www.housetrip.com, www.independenttraveler.com, www.jetsetter.com, www.thefork.com (including www.lafourchette.com, www.eltenedor.com, www.iens.nl, www.besttables.com, www.dimmi.com.au , and www.en.couverts.nl), www.niumba.com, www.onetime.com, www.oyster.com, www.seatguru.com, www.smartertravel.com, www.tingo.com, www.travelpod.com, www.tripbod.com, www.vacationhomerentals.com, and www.viator.com.

Our Business Model

Our platforms connect users wishing to plan and book the best travel experiences with providers of travel accommodations and travel services worldwide. We manage our business in two reportable segments: Hotel and Non-Hotel. We derive the majority of our revenue from our Hotel segment.

Our Hotel business accounted for 80%, 85%, and 91%, of our Company’s consolidated revenue in the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, respectively, and includes the following revenue sources:

 

Click-Based advertising and transaction revenue. Our largest source of Hotel segment revenue is generated from click-based advertising on TripAdvisor-branded websites, which is primarily comprised of contextually-relevant booking links to our partners’ sites. Our click-based advertising partners are predominantly online travel agencies, or OTAs, and direct suppliers in the hotel product category. Click-based advertising is generally priced on a cost-per-click, or “CPC”, basis, with payments from advertisers determined by the number of users who click on a link multiplied by the price that partner is willing to pay for that click, or hotel shopper lead. CPC rates are determined in a dynamic, competitive auction process that enables our partners to use our proprietary, automated bidding system to submit CPC bids to have their hotel rates and availability listed on our site. Transaction revenue is generated from our instant booking feature, which enables the merchant of record, generally an OTA or hotel partner, to pay a commission to TripAdvisor for a user that completes a hotel reservation on our website.  

 

Display-Based and subscription-based advertising revenue. Advertising partners can promote their brands in a contextually-relevant manner through a variety of display-based advertising placements on our websites. Our display-based advertising clients are predominately direct suppliers of hotels, airlines

 

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and cruises, as well as destination marketing organizations. We also accept display advertising from OTAs and attractions, as well as advertisers from non-travel categories. Display-based advertising is sold predominantly on a cost per thousand impressions, or “CPM” basis. Subscription-based advertising is offered to hotels, B&Bs and other specialty lodging properties. This advertising product is sold for a flat fee and enables subscribers to list, for a contracted period of time, a website URL, email address and phone number on our TripAdvisor-branded websites, as well as to post special offers for travelers .

 

Other hotel revenue. Our other hotel revenue primarily includes revenue from non-TripAdvisor branded websites, such as smartertravel.com, independenttraveler.com, and bookingbuddy.com, which includes click-based advertising revenue, display-based advertising revenue, hotel room reservations sold through these websites, and advertising revenue from making cruise reservations available for price comparison and booking.

A significant percentage of our users are not hotel shoppers and visit TripAdvisor sites without navigating to pages that contain a listing of hotels in a particular city or a specific hotel’s page. These users contribute to our Non-Hotel segment revenue, which accounted for 20%, 15%, and 9% of our consolidated revenue for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, respectively, and consists of the following businesses, or operating segments:

 

Attractions. We provide information and services for users to research and book activities and attractions in popular travel destinations through our dedicated attractions business, Viator. We generate revenue by charging the operators a commission for each transaction we facilitate through our online reservation systems. In addition to its consumer-direct business, Viator also powers activity and attractions booking capabilities to its affiliate partners, including some of the world’s top airlines, hotel chains and online and offline travel agencies. Viator’s bookable inventory is available on www.viator.com as well as on TripAdvisor-branded websites and mobile applications.

 

Restaurants.  Through our restaurant reservations business The Fork we provide information and services for users to research and book restaurants. The Fork is an online restaurant booking platform operating on a number of sites (including www.lafourchette.com, www.eltenedor.com, www.iens.nl, www.besttables.com, www.dimmi.com.au , and www.en.couverts.nl), with a network of restaurant partners primarily across Europe and Australia. The Fork generates revenue by charging our restaurant partners a fee for each restaurant guest, or seated diner, that we facilitate through our online reservation systems. The Fork also provides flexible online booking and a premium data and analytics tool, for which the restaurant owner pays a subscription fee. The Fork’s bookable inventory is also available on TripAdvisor-branded websites and mobile applications.

 

Vacation Rentals. We provide information and services for users to research and book vacation and short-term rental properties, including full home rentals, condominiums, villas, beach rentals, cabins and cottages. The vacation rentals business generates revenue by offering individual property owners and property managers, the ability to list their properties on our websites and mobile applications through a free-to-list, commission-based option, and to a lesser extent, an annual subscription-based fee structure. These properties are listed on a number of platforms, including www.flipkey.com, www.holidaylettings.co.uk, www.housetrip.com , www.niumba.com, and www.vacationhomerentals.com , as well as on our TripAdvisor-branded websites.  

Our Growth Strategy

We leverage significant investments in technology, operations, brand-building, and relationships with advertisers and other partners to expand our business and enhance our global competitive position. We continue to focus on the following areas to grow our business:

 

Delivering a Great User Experience. In 2016, in addition to completing the global instant booking rollout to all users on all devices worldwide, we also made it easier for users to find the best room prices on our site, whether offered through hotel metasearch or instant booking. We believe our continued progress in creating end-to-end travel solutions on our platform will result in better user experiences, and ultimately drive higher conversion to transactions for our partners and higher revenue per hotel shopper for our hotel business. Our innovative culture supports bringing product enhancements to market at speed. In doing so, we believe that we can continue to improve the user experience and

 

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engagement by growing, among other things, high-quality content, best room price availability on hotel listings, in-destination bookable supply, and real-time email and push notifications, thereby also enhancing our competitive positioning.

 

Increasing Traffic to Our Platform. We seek to amplify our global brand and products through various online and offline performance-based marketing channels in order to increase the number of users who navigate to our site either directly, also known as domain direct traffic, or from other marketing channels. We have leveraged, at different points in time, a number of offline advertising channels, including permanent branding campaigns such as TripAdvisor-branded travel awards, certificates, stickers and badges and television advertising. We also leverage a number of online advertising channels, including: customer relationship management email campaigns, or “CRM”; social networks; “SEM”, which promotes websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results through paid placements, contextual advertising, and paid inclusions; and retargeting, which targets consumers based on their search behavior. In addition, for sources of user traffic, we rely on search engine optimization, or SEO, which promotes websites with relevant and current content that rank well in “organic,” or unpaid search engine results, as well as referrals from partners whose sites contain links to TripAdvisor content, badges or widgets. In order to continue growing unique visitors to our websites and enhancing the quality of those visits, we intend to invest in, some or all, of the aforementioned channels, as well as any new channels that we may identify in the future.

 

Enhancing Our Mobile Offerings . Innovating and improving our mobile products is a key priority as mobile devices continue to proliferate and consumers increasingly conduct more internet searches and commerce on these devices. During the year ended December 31, 2016, nearly half of our average monthly unique visitors came from mobile phone, growing 29% year-over-year, according to our log files. We anticipate that the growth rate in mobile visitors will continue to exceed the growth rate of our overall monthly unique visitors, resulting in an increased proportion of users continuing to use their mobile devices to access the full range of services available on our websites and applications. We are investing significant resources to improve the features, functionality, engagement, and commercialization of our travel products on our mobile websites and applications.

 

Growing Attractions, Restaurants and Vacation Rentals Businesses. A significant percentage of our users come to our websites for content on 760,000 activities and attractions, 4.3 million restaurants, and 835,000 vacation rentals, and we believe that continuing to build in-destination listings gives us a unique opportunity to delight users in more moments during more trips.  We continue to execute this strategy and increase the stickiness of our products by investing in increasing bookable supply and strengthening our user engagement through our mobile platform.  

Our Key Strengths

Our mission is to help people around the world plan, book and experience the perfect trip. In order to achieve this goal and our growth strategies, we leverage our key assets—a loyal travel community, rich user-generated content, end-to-end travel experience, continuous technological innovation and global reach—as follows:

 

Loyal Travel Community . We believe that we have the largest breadth of travel-planning content in the global travel industry and, as a result, travelers gravitate to our websites to research and plan their trips. We view our large, highly engaged and loyal community of travelers as a valuable resource and provide them an interactive platform to share their experiences. After completing their trip, consumers can return to our websites to write reviews to give back to the community that helped them plan their trip. To encourage better experiences for travelers and to create a feedback loop between the hospitality industry and travelers, we engage hospitality management representatives to respond to reviews of their properties on our website. Through this cycle, more content is generated, which further drives community, traffic, loyalty and higher search engine rankings, all of which leads to additional content creation. We believe this sense of community among users and brand loyalty is a key competitive advantage for TripAdvisor.

 

Rich User-Generated Content. To help our users plan their trip, the TripAdvisor platform contains 465 million reviews and opinions as well as 90 million candid traveler photos on 7 million places to stay, places to eat and things to do. This valuable content creation reached 290 contributions per minute

 

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in 2016, up approximately 40% from December 31, 2015. In addition, our tools and travel content are available to users around the world in 28 different languages on all devices, including mobile phone, desktop and tablet.

 

End-to-End Travel Experience. TripAdvisor products enable users to research, plan, price compare and book travel in a comprehensive, end-to-end fashion across a portfolio of 1,060,000 hotels, 835,000 vacation rentals, 4.3 million restaurants and 760,000 activities and attractions worldwide. In addition to user-generated content, our websites and applications feature price comparison tools and search functionality with links to partner websites, including travel advertisers, on which users can find and book their travel arrangements at the best prices. We also enable users to book hotels, activities and attractions and restaurant reservations on our site. These capabilities cover all phases of the travel experience, from pre-trip research and booking to in-destination booking to post-trip review submission.

 

Technology and Product . Continuous product testing and speed to market are two of our most important priorities, as they enable us to create a richer user experience. We operate on a regular product release cycle, where releases contain new product features for our websites and mobile applications. Our ongoing commitment to innovation also extends to content syndication and review collection partnerships, as we leverage our technology and content for the benefit of other websites. In addition, we utilize manual and electronic fraud detection in order to maintain the quality and authenticity of user reviews.  

 

Global Reach . We are a global company, evidenced both through the reach of our portfolio of branded websites and through our in-market staffing in 24 countries. As of December 31, 2016, we had 1,614 employees based outside of the United States, representing approximately 49% of our employee population.  As of December 31, 2016, we had branded websites in 48 markets outside the United States in 28 languages. We have approximately 1.6 billion review translations, and are committed to continuing to improve the in-country user experience and the local content coverage for all of our points-of-sale. We believe that the universally-relevant content and community of our core TripAdvisor platform and our other brands uniquely position us to appeal to travelers throughout the world.

Our Industry

We operate in the global travel industry, focusing exclusively on online travel activity and the online advertising market.

According to Phocuswright, global travel spending is expected to be greater than $1.3 trillion in 2017, or an increase of 5% over 2016. Recent trends show that, each year, an increasing percentage of global travel spending is conducted online through supplier websites and OTAs. We believe that this trend will continue as online penetration continues to grow, as more consumers around the world gain broadband access to the internet, as smartphone, tablets and other mobile computing devices continue to proliferate, and as travel activity increases along with an expanding middle class in certain countries like China and India.

We believe that the internet will continue to become even more integral to the travel-planning process due to increasing worldwide online penetration, particularly given the capabilities that the internet provides travelers, including the ability to refine searches, compare destinations, read and contribute user-generated content, view real-time pricing and determine availability, complete bookings, and access information while in-destination.

Travel-related advertisers continue to allocate greater percentages of their marketing budgets to online channels, mirroring the trend in consumer media consumption generally. Given the size and growth of the global travel market, as well as a growing percentage of travel transactions taking place online, we believe that travel-related businesses will continue to devote significant marketing dollars to online platforms in order to advertise their travel products and services.

Our Competition

We compete in rapidly evolving and competitive markets. We face competition for content, users, advertisers, online travel search and price comparison services or what is known in the industry as hotel metasearch, and online

 

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reservations. In the competition to attract users to our platform, we rely on our ability to acquire traffic through offline brand recognition and brand-direct efforts such as online search, email and television.  These marketing strategies can be impacted by competitive site content, changes to our website architecture and page designs, changes to search engine ranking algorithms, updates in competitor advertising strategies, or changes to display ordering in search engine results such as preferred placement for internal products offered by search engines.

We compete with different types of companies in the various markets and geographies we participate in, including large and small companies in the travel space as well as broader service providers. More specifically:

 

In our Hotel segment, we face competition from OTAs (including Expedia, Inc. and The Priceline Group, Inc. and certain of their respective subsidiaries), hotel metasearch providers (including Trivago, Kayak, Ctrip.com International, Ltd., and HotelsCombined), large online search, social media, and marketplace companies (including Google, Microsoft Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Facebook, Alibaba, and Amazon), traditional offline travel agencies, and global hotel chains seeking to promote direct bookings.

 

We also face competition in our Non-Hotel segment. Our Attractions business competes with traditional travel agencies, online providers, wholesalers, and individual tour operators. Our Restaurants business competes with other online restaurant reservation services, such as Yelp and OpenTable (a subsidiary of Priceline), and local or regional providers. Our Vacation Rentals business competes with companies focused on alternative lodging and shared accommodations, including Airbnb and HomeAway (a subsidiary of Expedia).

As the industry shifts towards online travel services and the technology supporting it continues to evolve, including platforms such as smartphone and tablet computing devices, we anticipate that the existing competitive landscape will continue to change, new competitors may emerge, and industry consolidation may continue.

Our Commercial Relationships

We have a number of commercial relationships that are important to the success of our business. Although these relationships are memorialized in agreements, many of these agreements are for limited terms or are terminable at will or on short notice. As a result, we work hard to ensure the mutual success of these relationships.

We have commercial relationships with the majority of the world’s leading OTAs as well as a variety of other travel suppliers pursuant to which these companies purchase traveler leads from us, generally on a click-based advertising basis. For the year ended December 31, 2016, our two most significant click-based and transaction advertising partners were Expedia and Priceline, including certain of their respective brands.

 

Our instant booking feature enables hotel shoppers to book directly with a third-party partner, without leaving our website. To facilitate this user experience, we have entered into contracts with the majority of the world’s top hotel chains, including Accor, Best Western International, Carlson Rezidor, Choice Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott International, Hilton, and Wyndham Worldwide. We have also partnered with Priceline and Expedia whereby certain of their online travel brands participate in our instant booking feature.  As a result, users are able to book more than 560,000 hotels worldwide, powered by our partners, without leaving the TripAdvisor site or mobile experience.  

Marketing and Promotions

Our marketing programs are intended to build and maintain the value of our brands, promote consumer engagement and contributions, drive qualified clicks to our partners and strategically position our brands in the market. Our long-term success depends on our continued ability to maintain and increase the overall number of users flowing through our platform in a cost-effective manner, to engage users throughout the travel planning and booking phases, and to attract consumers who will share their reviews from their trips. We reach consumers across mobile and desktop devices through our online traffic acquisition programs, such as SEM, retargeting and online marketing campaigns, as well as through our offline brand campaigns. We also utilize our CRM channels by sending relevant and engaging communications to our members via email. We have a robust global public relations program that yields placements on a constant basis in major print and online publications. From 2013 to 2015, we invested in television advertising campaigns to promote the TripAdvisor brand as well as to publicize our new price comparison

 

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and booking product features. During 2016, we began utilizing promotional campaigns, such as sweepstakes and giveaways, to educate and reward consumers for using our instant booking product. We continue to explore new ways to build brand awareness and growth in both new and existing marketing channels, which may include traditional media and social media channels including Facebook and Twitter to deepen user engagement.

Operations and Technology

We have assembled a team of highly skilled software engineers, computer scientists, data scientists, network engineers, and systems engineers whose expertise spans a broad range of technical areas, including a wide variety of open source operating systems, databases, languages, analytics, networking, scalable web architecture, operations, and warehousing technologies. We make significant investments in product and feature development, data management, personalization technologies, scalable infrastructures, networking, data warehousing, and search engine technologies. The TripAdvisor-branded websites are powered primarily using Java programming language.

Our systems infrastructure, web and database servers for TripAdvisor-branded websites are housed at two geographically separate facilities and have multiple communication links as well as continuous monitoring and engineering support. Each facility is fully self-sufficient and operational with its own hardware, networking, software, and content, and is structured in an active/passive, fully redundant configuration. Substantially all of our software components, data, and content are replicated in multiple datacenters and development centers, as well as being backed up at offsite locations. Our systems are monitored and protected though multiple layers of security. Several of our individual subsidiaries and businesses, including Viator, have their own data infrastructure and technology teams.

Intellectual Property

Our intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, domain names, trade dress, proprietary technology and trade secrets, is an important component of our business. We rely on our intellectual property rights in our content, proprietary technology, software code, ratings indexes, databases of reviews and forum content, images, videos, graphics and brands. We have acquired some of our intellectual property rights through licenses and content agreements with third parties. These licenses and agreements may place restrictions on the use of our intellectual property.

We protect our intellectual property by relying on our terms of use, confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions, as well as on international, national, state and common law rights. In addition, we enter into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with employees and contractors, and confidentiality agreements with other third parties. We protect our brands by pursuing the trademark registration of our core brands, as appropriate, maintaining our trademark portfolio, securing contractual trademark rights protection when appropriate, and relying on common law trademark rights when appropriate. We also register copyrights and domain names as deemed appropriate. Additionally, we protect our trademarks, domain names and copyrights with the use of intellectual property licenses and an enforcement program.

We have considered, and will continue to consider, the appropriateness of filing for patents to protect future inventions, as circumstances may warrant. However, many patents protect only specific inventions and there can be no assurance that others may not create new products or methods that achieve similar results without infringing upon patents owned by us.

Government Regulation

We are subject to a number of United States federal and state and foreign laws and regulations that affect companies conducting business on the internet, many of which are still evolving and being tested in courts, and could be interpreted in ways that could harm our business. These may involve user privacy, libel, rights of publicity, data protection, content, intellectual property, distribution, electronic contracts and other communications, competition, protection of minors, consumer protection, taxation and online payment services. In particular, we are subject to United States federal and state and foreign laws regarding privacy and protection of user data. Foreign data protection, privacy, and other laws and regulations are often more restrictive than those in the United States.

 

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United States federal and state and foreign laws and regulations are constantly evolving and can be subject to significant change. In addition, the application and interpretation of these laws and regulations is often uncertain, particularly in the new and rapidly-evolving industry in which we operate. There are also a number of legislative proposals pending before the United States Congress, various state legislative bodies, and foreign governments concerning data protection, which could affect us.

In addition, we provide advertising data and information and conduct marketing activities that are subject to United States federal and state consumer protection laws that regulate unfair and deceptive practices, domestically and internationally. The United States and European Union have begun to adopt legislation that regulates certain aspects of the internet, including online editorial and user-generated content, user privacy, behavioral targeting and online advertising, taxation, and liability for third-party activities.

United States federal, state and foreign governments have considered from time to time alternative legislative and regulatory proposals that would increase regulation on internet advertising. It is impossible to accurately predict whether new taxes or regulations will be imposed on our services, and whether or how we might be affected. Increased regulation of the internet could increase the cost of doing business or otherwise materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or operational results.

We are subject to laws that require protection of user privacy and user data. In our processing of reservations, we receive and store a large volume of personally identifiable data in the United States, Europe and Asia. This data is increasingly subject to laws and regulations in numerous jurisdictions around the world, including the Commission of the European Union through its Data Protection Directive and variations and implementations of that directive in the member states of the European Union. The enactment, interpretation and application of these laws is in a state of flux, and the interpretation and application of such laws may vary from country to country.

Corporate History, Equity Ownership and Voting Control

TripAdvisor was co-founded in February 2000 by Stephen Kaufer, our current President and Chief Executive Officer. In April 2004, TripAdvisor was acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp, or IAC. In August 2005, IAC spun-off its portfolio of travel brands, including TripAdvisor, into a separate newly-formed Delaware corporation called Expedia, Inc., or Expedia. On December 20, 2011 Expedia completed a spin-off of TripAdvisor into a separate publicly-traded Delaware corporation. We refer to this second spin-off transaction as the “Spin-Off.” Following the Spin-Off, on December 21, 2011, TripAdvisor began trading on The NASDAQ Global Select Market, or NASDAQ, as an independent public company under the symbol “TRIP.”

On December 11, 2012, Liberty Interactive Corporation, or Liberty, purchased an aggregate of 4,799,848 shares of common stock of TripAdvisor from Barry Diller, our former Chairman of the Board of Directors and Senior Executive, and certain of his affiliates. Following this transaction, Liberty beneficially owned 18,159,752 shares of our common stock and 12,799,999 shares of our Class B common stock.

On August 27, 2014, the entire beneficial ownership of our common stock and Class B common stock held by Liberty was acquired by Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc., or LTRIP. Simultaneously, Liberty, LTRIP’s former parent company, distributed, by means of a dividend, to the holders of its Liberty Ventures common stock, Liberty’s entire equity interest in LTRIP. We refer to this transaction as the Liberty Spin Off. As a result of the Liberty Spin-Off, effective August 27, 2014, LTRIP became a separate, publicly traded company holding 100% of Liberty’s interest in TripAdvisor. 

As a result of these transactions, as of December 31, 2016, LTRIP beneficially owned 18,159,752 shares of our common stock and 12,799,999 shares of our Class B common stock, which shares constitute 13.8% of the outstanding shares of common stock and 100% of the outstanding shares of Class B common stock. Assuming the conversion of all of LTRIP’s shares of Class B common stock into common stock, LTRIP would beneficially own 21.5% of the outstanding common stock. Because each share of Class B common stock is generally entitled to ten votes per share and each share of common stock is entitled to one vote per share, LTRIP may be deemed to beneficially own equity securities representing approximately 56.4% of our voting power.

 

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Financial Information about Segments and Geographic Information

Our reporting structure includes two reportable segments: Hotel and Non-Hotel. Our Non-Hotel reportable segment consists of three operating segments, which includes our Attractions, Restaurants and Vacation Rentals businesses.  The segments are determined based on how the chief operating decision maker regularly assesses information and evaluates performance for operating decision-making purposes, including allocation of resources. Financial information related to our two reportable segments and geographic information required herein is contained in “Note 17  — Segment and Geographic Information ,” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8.

For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, Expedia and Priceline, each accounted for more than 10% of our consolidated revenue and together accounted for 46%, 46% and 46% of our consolidated revenue, respectively.  Nearly all of this concentration of revenue is recorded in our Hotel segment for these reporting periods. As of December 31, 2016 and 2015, Expedia accounted for 12% and 11%, respectively, of our total accounts receivable.

Employees

As of December 31, 2016, we had 3,327 employees. Of these employees, approximately 51% were based in the United States. We believe we have good relationships with our employees, including relationships with employees represented by international works councils or other similar organizations.  

Seasonality

Traveler expenditures in the global travel market tend to follow a seasonal pattern. As such, expenditures by travel advertisers to market to potential travelers and, therefore, our financial performance, tend to be seasonal as well. As a result, our financial results tend to be seasonally highest in the third quarter of a year, as it is a key period for travel research and trip-taking, compared to the first and fourth quarters which represent seasonal low points. Further significant shifts in our business mix or adverse economic conditions could result in future seasonal patterns that are different from historical trends.

Additional Information

We maintain a corporate website at ir.tripadvisor.com. Except as explicitly noted, the information on our website, as well as the websites of our various brands and businesses, is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, or in any other filings with, or in any information furnished or submitted to, the SEC.

We make available, free of charge through the Investor Relations section of our website, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports, filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a) or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after they have been electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC.

We post our code of business conduct and ethics, which applies to all employees, including all executive officers, senior financial officers and directors, on our corporate website at www.tripadvisor.com. Our code of business conduct and ethics complies with Item 406 of SEC Regulation S-K and the rules of NASDAQ. We intend to disclose any changes to the code that affect the provisions required by Item 406 of Regulation S-K, and any waivers of the code of ethics for our executive officers, senior financial officers or directors, on our corporate website.

 


 

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Ite m 1A.

Risk Factors

You should consider carefully the risks described below together with all of the other information included in this Annual Report as they may impact our business, results of operations and/or financial condition. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe are immaterial may also impair our business, results of operations or financial condition. If any of the events described in the following risks factors occur, our business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

If we are unable to continue to increase visitors to our websites and mobile apps and to cost-effectively convert these visitors into revenue-generating users, our revenue, financial results and business could be harmed.

Our long term success depends on our continued ability to maintain and increase the overall number of visitors flowing through our platforms in a cost effective manner, to engage users throughout the travel planning and booking phases and to attract consumers who will share their reviews from their trips. The primary asset that we use to attract visitors to our websites and convert these visitors into engaged users and bookers is our ability to collect or create, organize and distribute high-quality, commercially valuable content and products that meet users’ specific interests.  Our traffic and user engagement could be adversely affected by a number of factors, including but not limited to increased competition, reduced consumer awareness of our brands, declines or inefficiencies in traffic acquisition, and macroeconomic conditions.  In the past year, certain of our competitors have launched advertising campaigns expressly designed to drive consumer traffic directly to their websites, and these campaigns may negatively impact traffic to our site.  There can be no assurances that we will continue to provide content and products in a cost-effective manner or in a manner that meets rapidly changing consumer demand. Any failure to obtain and manage content and products in a cost-effective manner that will engage users, or any failure to provide content and products that are perceived as useful, reliable and trustworthy, could adversely affect user experiences and their repeat behavior, reduce traffic to our websites and negatively impact our business and financial performance.

Our dedication to making the user experience our highest priority may cause us to prioritize rapid innovation and user engagement over short-term financial results.

We strive to create the best experience for our users, providing them with the information, research and tools to enable them to plan, book, and experience the perfect trip.  We believe that in doing so we will increase our rates of conversion, revenue per shopper and, ultimately, our financial performance over the long-term.  We have taken actions in the past and may continue to make decisions going forward that have the effect of reducing our short-term revenue or profitability if we believe that the decisions benefit the aggregate user experience.  For example, we may introduce changes to existing products or new products that direct users away from formats or use cases where we have a proven means of monetization, e.g. our instant book product.  In addition, our approach of putting users first may negatively impact our relationship with existing or prospective advertisers. These actions and practices could result in a loss of advertisers, which in turn could harm our results of operations.  The short-term reductions in revenue or profitability could be more severe than we anticipate or these decisions may not produce the long-term benefits that we expect, in which case our user growth and engagement, our relationships with users and advertisers, and our business and results of operations could be harmed.

We derive a substantial portion of our revenue from advertising and any significant reduction in spending by advertisers or redirections of advertising spend could harm our business.

We derive a substantial portion of our revenue from the sale of advertising, primarily through click-based advertising and, to a lesser extent, display-based advertising. We enter into master advertising contracts with our advertising partners, however, these agreements are generally limited to matters such as privacy and compliance, payment terms and conditions, termination and indemnities and most can be terminated by our partners at will or on short notice. Our ability to grow advertising revenue with our existing or new advertising partners is dependent in large part on our ability to generate revenue for them relative to other alternatives. Advertisers will not continue to do business with us if their investment in such advertising does not generate sales leads, customers, bookings, or

 

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revenue and profit on a cost-effective basis. Our ability to provide value to our advertising partners depends on a number of factors, including acceptance of online advertising versus more traditional forms of advertising or more effective models, competitiveness of our products, traffic quality, perception of our platform, availability and accuracy of analytics and measurement solutions to demonstrate our value, and macroeconomic conditions, whether in the advertising industry generally, among specific types of marketers or within particular geographies.  We cannot guarantee that our current advertisers will fulfill their obligations under existing contracts, continue to advertise beyond the terms of existing contracts or enter into any additional contracts with us.

Click-based advertising accounts for the majority of our advertising revenue. Our CPC pricing for click-based advertising depends, in part, on competition between advertisers. If our large advertisers become less competitive with each other, merge with each other or with our competitors, focus more on per-click profit than on traffic volume, or are able to reduce CPCs, this could have an adverse impact on our click-based advertising revenue which would, in turn, have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We rely on a relatively small number of significant advertising partners and any reduction in spending by or loss of these partners could seriously harm our business.

We derive a substantial portion of our revenue from a relatively small number of advertising partners and rely significantly on our relationships. For example, for the year ended December 31, 2016, our two most significant advertising partners, Expedia and Priceline (and their subsidiaries), accounted for a combined 46% of total revenue. While we enter into master advertising contracts with our partners, the terms of these agreements generally address matters such as privacy and compliance, payment terms and conditions, termination and indemnities and most of these contracts can be terminated by our partners at will or on short notice.    If any of our significant advertisers were to cease or significantly curtail advertising on our websites, we could experience a rapid decline in our revenue over a relatively short period of time which would have a material impact on our business.

Changes in internet search engine algorithms and dynamics, or search engine disintermediation, could have a negative impact on traffic for our sites and ultimately, our business and results of operations.

We rely heavily on internet search engines, such as Google, to generate traffic to our websites, principally through the purchase of travel-related keywords as well as through free, or organic, search. Pricing and operating dynamics for these traffic sources can change rapidly, both technically and competitively. Search engines frequently update and change the logic that determines the placement and display of results of a user’s search, such that the purchased or algorithmic placement of links to our websites can be negatively affected. In addition, a search engine could, for competitive or other purposes, alter its search algorithms or results causing our websites to place lower in organic search query results. If a major search engine changes its algorithms in a manner that negatively affects the search engine ranking of our websites or those of our partners, or if competitive dynamics impact the cost or effectiveness of SEO or SEM in a negative manner, our business and financial performance would be adversely affected. Furthermore, our failure to successfully manage our SEO and SEM strategies could result in a substantial decrease in traffic to our websites, as well as increased costs if we were to replace free traffic with paid traffic.

In addition, to the extent that Google or other leading search or metasearch engines that have a significant presence in our key markets, disintermediate OTAs or travel content providers, whether by offering their own comprehensive travel planning or shopping capabilities, or by referring leads to suppliers, other favored partners or themselves directly, there could be a material adverse impact on our business and financial performance.  To the extent these actions have a negative effect on search results and traffic to our site, our business and financial performance could be adversely affected.

We also rely on application marketplaces, such as Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play, to drive downloads of our applications. In the future, Apple, Google or other marketplace operators may make changes to their marketplaces that make access to our products more difficult. For example, our applications may receive unfavorable treatment compared to the promotion and placement of competing applications, such as the order in which they appear within marketplaces. Similarly, if problems arise in our relationships with providers of application marketplaces, traffic to our site and our user growth could be harmed.

 

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We continue to focus on our “instant booking” feature despite anticipated and unanticipated challenges and risks which could have a negative impact on our business and financial performance.  

Instant booking is a feature that enables users to book a hotel reservation directly with a hotel or online travel agency partner while remaining on the TripAdvisor website. We believe that allowing users to book directly online without leaving the TripAdvisor site will result in a better user experience, increased user engagement and, ultimately, additional revenue to the Company. We began rolling out this feature out the U.S. in 2014 and completed the roll out in international markets in 2016.  We are currently focused on (i) improving the shopping experience to drive increased user engagement, better conversion and more bookings, and (ii) continuing to earn users’ trust as their booking site of choice.

There are, however, additional risks associated with this feature.  Currently our instant booking feature is monetizing at a lower revenue per hotel shopper rate compared to our metasearch feature. While we expect to close this monetization gap, primarily by continuing to streamline our booking path to enhance user experience, persistently promoting the TripAdvisor brand as a booking channel and continuing to seek partners with strong branding and supply channels, there is no guarantee that these initiatives will ultimately be successful and, if not, our revenue may be materially adversely affected.  In addition, instant booking revenue recorded under the consumption model is recognized at the time the traveler completes his or her stay. Comparatively, revenue recognized under our metasearch feature is recorded when a traveler makes the click-through to the travel partners’ websites. In future periods, greater contribution of revenue from our instant booking consumption model would result in additional revenue recognized at the time of a consumed stay and thus a shift in the timing of our revenue recognition.

Consumer adoption and use of mobile devices creates new challenges and, if we are unable to operate effectively on mobile devices, our business may be adversely affected.  

The number of people who access the internet through mobile devices, such as mobile phones, has increased substantially in the last few years and we anticipate that the rate of use of these devices will continue to grow. The mobile market in general remains a rapidly evolving market.  As new devices and platforms are released, users may begin consuming content in a manner that is more difficult to monetize.  Advertising opportunities may be more limited on mobile devices.  In addition, given the device sizes and technical limitations of these devices, mobile consumers may not be willing to download multiple apps from multiple companies providing similar service and instead prefer to use one or a limited number of apps for their hotel, restaurant and attractions activity.

To address these growing user demands, we continue to extend our platform to develop and improve upon our mobile applications and monetization strategies. However, currently, we monetize users of mobile phone devices at a significantly lower rate compared to users who access our websites through desktop computers or tablets.  If we are unable to continue to rapidly innovate and create new, user-friendly and differentiated mobile offerings and websites optimized for mobile phone devices and efficiently and effectively advertise and distribute on these platforms, or if our mobile offerings are not used by consumers, our future growth and results of operations could be negatively impacted.  

Declines or disruptions in the economy in general and travel industry in particular could adversely affect our businesses and financial performance.

Our businesses and financial performance are affected by the health of the global economy generally as well as the travel industry and leisure travel in particular. Sales of travel services tend to decline or grow more slowly during economic downturns and recessions when consumers engage in less discretionary spending, are concerned about unemployment or economic weakness, have reduced access to credit or experience other concerns that reduce their ability or willingness to travel.  The global economy may be adversely impacted by unforeseen events beyond our control including incidents of actual or threatened terrorism, regional hostilities or instability, unusual weather patterns, natural disasters, political instability and health concerns (including epidemics or pandemics), defaults on government debt, significant increases in fuel and energy costs, tax increases and other matters that could reduce discretionary spending, tightening of credit markets and further declines in consumer confidence. Decreased travel expenditures could reduce the demand for our services and have a negative impact on our business, working capital and financial performance.  

 

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In addition, the uncertainty of macro-economic factors and their impact on consumer behavior, which may differ across regions, makes it more difficult to forecast industry and consumer trends and the timing and degree of their impact on our markets and business, which in turn could adversely affect our ability to effectively manage our business and adversely affect our results of operations.

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom held a referendum in which a majority of voters voted to exit the European Union (“Brexit”).   Since the referendum, global markets and foreign currency exchange rates have experienced increased volatility, including a sharp decline in the value of the British Pound Sterling relative to the U.S. dollar.  To leave the European Union, the United Kingdom must provide official notice of its decision and negotiate the terms of its exit.  This process could take two years or more.  The effects of Brexit will depend on, among other things, the terms, nature and timetable of the exit and the parties have not yet established these terms, Brexit could adversely affect European and global economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global financial markets.  Any of these effects of Brexit, and others we cannot anticipate, may have a negative effect on the travel industry and may adversely affect our business.  

We rely on the value of our brands and consumer trust in our brands. If we are not able to protect, maintain and enhance our brands, or if events occur that damage our reputation and brands, our business may be harmed.

We believe that the strength of our brands (particularly the TripAdvisor brand) has contributed significantly to our success and that maintaining and enhancing our brands is critical to expanding our base of users, to creating content and to attracting advertisers. As a result, we invest significantly in brand marketing. We expect these investments to continue, or even increase, as a result of a variety of factors, including relatively high levels of advertising spending from competitors, the increasing costs of supporting multiple brands, expansion into new geographies, products and product positioning where our brands are less well known, inflation in media pricing, and the continued emergence and relative traffic share growth of search engines as destination sites for travelers. Such efforts may not maintain or enhance consumer awareness of our brands and, even if we are successful in our branding efforts, such efforts may not be cost-effective or as efficient as they have been historically. If we are unable to maintain or enhance consumer awareness of our brands or to generate demand in a cost-effective manner, it would have a material adverse effect on our business and financial performance.

Our ability to protect, maintain and enhance our brand also depends largely on our ability to maintain consumer confidence in our products, in the quality and integrity of our content and other information found on our platform.  If consumers do not believe our recommended reviews to be useful and reliable, they may seek other services to obtain the information for which they are looking and may not return to our platform as often in the future, or at all.  In addition, unfavorable publicity regarding, for example, our practices relating to privacy and data protection, product changes, competitive pressures, litigation or regulatory activity, could adversely affect our reputation with our users and our advertisers. Such negative publicity also could have an adverse effect on the size, engagement, and loyalty of our user base and result in decreased revenue, which could adversely affect our business and financial results.

We operate in an increasingly competitive global environment and our failure to compete effectively could reduce our market share and harm our financial performance.

We compete in rapidly evolving and competitive markets. We face competition for content, users, advertisers, online travel search and price comparison services, or what is known in the industry as hotel metasearch, and online reservations. In the competition to attract users to our platform, we rely on our ability to acquire traffic through offline brand recognition and brand-direct efforts such as online search, email and television.  These marketing strategies can be impacted by competitive site content, changes to our website architecture and page designs, changes to search engine ranking algorithms, updates in competitor advertising strategies, or changes to display ordering in search engine results such as preferred placement for internal products offered by search engines.

We also compete with different types of companies in the various markets and geographies we participate in, including large and small companies in the travel space as well as broader service providers.  More specifically:

 

 

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In our Hotel segment, we face competition from OTAs (including Expedia, Inc. and The Priceline Group Inc. and certain of their respective subsidiaries), hotel metasearch providers (including Trivago, Kayak, Ctrip.com International, Ltd., and HotelsCombined), large online search, social media, and marketplace companies (including Google, Microsoft Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Facebook, Alibaba, and Amazon), traditional offline travel agencies, and global hotel chains seeking to promote direct bookings.

 

 

We also face competition from different companies in each of the operating segments in our Non-Hotel segment. Our Attractions business competes with traditional travel agencies, wholesalers, and individual tour operators as well as Airbnb and similar websites that have added other travel services such as tours and activities. Our Restaurants business competes with other online restaurant reservation services, such as Yelp and OpenTable (a subsidiary of Priceline). Our Vacation Rentals business competes with companies focused on alternative lodging and shared accommodations, including Airbnb and HomeAway (a subsidiary of Expedia).

Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources compared to us and have expertise in developing online commerce and facilitating internet traffic as well as large client bases. They also have the ability to leverage other aspects of their business to enable them to compete more effectively against us.  In addition, many of our competitors, including online search companies, continue to expand their voice and artificial intelligence capabilities, which may provide them with a competitive advantage in travel.  We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete successfully against our current, emerging and future competitors or on platforms that may emerge, or provide differentiated products and services to our traveler base.  

Certain of the companies we do business with, including some of our click-based advertising partners, are also our competitors. The consolidation of our competitors and partners, including Expedia (through its acquisitions of Orbitz, Travelocity, and HomeAway) and Priceline (through its acquisitions of Kayak and OpenTable), may affect our relative competitiveness and our partner relationships. Competition and consolidation could result in higher traffic acquisition costs, reduced margins on our advertising services, loss of market share, reduced customer traffic to our websites and reduced advertising by travel companies on our websites.

As the industry shifts towards online travel services and the technology supporting it continues to evolve, including platforms such as smartphone and tablet computing devices, competition is likely to intensify. Competition in our industry may result in pricing pressure, loss of market share or decreased member engagement, any of which could adversely affect our business and financial performance.

We rely on information technology to operate our business and remain competitive, and any failure to adapt to technological developments or industry trends could harm our businesses.

We depend on the use of sophisticated information technologies and systems for, among other things, website and mobile apps, supplier connectivity, communications, reservations, payment processing, procurement, customer service and fraud prevention.  Our future success depends on our ability to continuously improve and upgrade our systems and infrastructure to meet rapidly evolving consumer trends and demands while at the same time maintaining the reliability and integrity of our systems and infrastructure. We may not be able to maintain or replace our existing systems or introduce new technologies and systems as quickly as we would like or in a cost-effective manner. We may not be successful, or as successful as our competitors, in developing technologies and systems that operate effectively across multiple devices and platforms in a way that is appealing to our users.

In addition, the emergence of alternative platforms such as smartphone and tablet computing devices and the emergence of niche competitors who may be able to optimize products, services or strategies for such platforms will require new investment in technology. New developments in other areas, such as cloud computing, could also make it easier for competition to enter our markets due to lower up-front technology costs.

 

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If we do not continue to innovate and provide tools and services that are useful to travelers, we may not remain competitive, and our business and financial performance could suffer.

Our success depends in part on continued innovation to provide features and services that make our platform compelling to travelers. Our competitors are continually developing innovations in online travel-related services and features. As a result, we are continually working to improve our business model and user experience in order to drive user traffic and conversion rates. We can give no assurances that the changes we make will yield the benefits we expect and will not have adverse impacts that we did not anticipate. If we are unable to continue offering innovative products and services and quality features that travelers want to use, existing users may become dissatisfied and use competitors’ offerings and we may be unable to attract additional users, which could adversely affect our business and financial performance.

We are dependent upon the quality of traffic in our network to provide value to online advertisers, and any failure in our quality control could have a material adverse effect on the value of our websites to our advertisers and adversely affect our revenue.

We use technology and processes to monitor the quality of the internet traffic that we deliver to online advertisers and have identified metrics to demonstrate the quality of that traffic. These metrics are used to not only identify the value of advertising on our website but also to identify low quality clicks such as non-human processes, including robots, spiders or other software; the mechanical automation of clicking; and other types of invalid clicks or click fraud. Even with such monitoring in place, there is a risk that a certain amount of low-quality traffic, or traffic that online advertisers deem to be invalid, will be delivered to such online advertisers. As a result, we may be required to credit amounts owed to us by our advertisers. Furthermore, low-quality or invalid traffic may be detrimental to our relationships with advertisers, and could adversely affect our advertising pricing and revenue.

We rely on assumptions and estimates and data to calculate certain of our key metrics, and real or perceived inaccuracies in such metrics may harm our reputation and negatively affect our business.

We believe that certain metrics are key to our business, including unique visitors, hotel shoppers, revenue per hotel shopper, and number of reviews and opinions.  As the industry in which we operate and our business continues to evolve, so too might the metrics by which we evaluate our business.  While the calculation of these metrics is based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates, our internal tools are not independently verified by a third party and have a number of limitations and, furthermore, our methodologies for tracking these metrics may change over time.  For example, a single person may have multiple accounts or browse the internet on multiple browsers or devices, some users may restrict our ability to accurately identify them across visits, some mobile applications automatically contact our servers for regular updates with no user action, and we are not always able to capture user information on all of our platforms. As such, the calculations of our unique visitors may not accurately reflect the number of people actually visiting our platforms.  We continue to improve upon our tools and methodologies to capture data and believe that our current metrics are more accurate; however, the improvement of our tools and methodologies could cause inconsistency between current data and previously reported data, which could confuse investors or lead to questions about the integrity of our data. Also if the internal tools we use to track these metrics under-count or over-count performance or contain algorithm or other technical errors, the data we report may not be accurate. In addition, historically, certain metrics were calculated by independent third parties.  Accordingly readers should not place undue reliance on these numbers.  

The loss of one or more of our key personnel, or our failure to attract and retain other highly qualified personnel in the future, could harm our business.

Our future success depends upon the continued contributions of our senior corporate management and other key employees. In particular, the contributions of Stephen Kaufer, our co-founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, are critical to our overall management. We cannot ensure that we will be able to retain the services of these individuals, and the loss of one or more of our key personnel could seriously harm our business. We do not maintain any key person life insurance policies.

 

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In addition, competition remains intense for well-qualified employees in certain aspects of our business, including software engineers, developers, product management and development personnel, and other technology professionals. Our continued ability to compete effectively depends on our ability to attract new employees and to retain and motivate existing employees. As a global company, we aim to attract quality employees from all over the world, so any restrictions on travel for professional or personal purposes, such as those put in place  in the United States in early 2017, may cause significant disruption to our businesses or negatively affect our ability to attract and retain employees on a global basis.  If we do not succeed in attracting well-qualified employees or retaining or motivating existing employees, our business would be adversely affected.

The online vacation rental market is rapidly evolving and if we fail to predict the manner in which the market develops, our business and prospects may suffer.

We offer vacation rental services on our TripAdvisor-branded sites as well as through our U.S.-based FlipKey and Vacation Home Rentals and European-based Holiday Lettings and Niumba businesses. The vacation rental market has been and continues to be, subject to regulatory development that affect the vacation rental industry and the ability of companies like us to list those vacation rentals online. For example, some states and local jurisdictions have adopted or are considering statutes or ordinances that prohibit property owners and managers from renting certain properties for fewer than 30 consecutive days or otherwise limit their ability to do so, and other states and local jurisdictions may introduce similar regulations. Some states and local jurisdictions also have fair housing or other laws governing whether and how properties may be rented, which they assert apply to vacation rentals. Many homeowners, condominium and neighborhood associations have adopted rules that prohibit or restrict short-term vacation rentals. In addition, many of the fundamental statutes and ordinances that impose taxes or other obligations on travel and lodging companies were established before the growth of the internet and e-commerce, which creates a risk of these laws being used in ways not originally intended that could burden property owners and managers or otherwise harm our business.  Operating in this dynamic regulatory environment and in new and untested jurisdictions requires significant management attention and financial resources. We cannot assure that our efforts will be successful, and the investment and additional resources required to manage growth will produce the desired levels of revenue or profitability.

We may be subject to claims that we violated intellectual property rights of others and these claims can be extremely costly to defend and could require us to pay significant damages and limit our ability to operate.

Certain companies in the internet and technology industries that own patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets frequently enter into litigation based on allegations of infringement or other violations of those intellectual property rights in order to extract value from technology companies, such as royalties in connection with grants of licenses.  We have received in the past, and expect in the future to receive notices that claim we have misappropriated or misused other parties’ intellectual property rights. Any intellectual property claim against us, regardless of merit, could be time-consuming and expensive to settle or litigate and could divert management’s attention and other resources. These claims also could subject us to significant liability for damages and could result in our having to stop using technology or content found to be in violation of another party’s rights. We might be required or may opt to seek a license for rights to intellectual property held by others, which may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. Even if a license is available, we could be required to pay significant royalties, which would increase our operating expenses. We may also be required to develop alternative non-infringing technology, or content, which could require significant effort and expense and make us less competitive in the relevant market. Any of these results could harm our business and financial performance.

Acquisitions, investments, significant commercial arrangements and/or new business strategies could disrupt our ongoing business and present new challenges and risks.  

Our success will depend, in part, on our ability to expand our product offerings and expand user engagement in order to grow our business in response to changing technologies, user and advertiser demands and competitive pressures.  As a result, we have acquired, invested in and/or entered into significant commercial arrangements with a number of new business in the past and our future growth may depend, in part, on future acquisitions, investments, commercial arrangements/or changes in business strategies, any of which could be material to our financial

 

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conditions and results of operations. Such endeavors may involve significant risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

Expected and unexpected costs incurred in identifying and pursuing these endeavors, and performing due diligence on potential targets that may or may not be successful;

 

Use of cash resources and incurrence of debt and contingent liabilities in funding these endeavors that may limit other potential uses of our cash, including stock repurchases, retirement of outstanding indebtedness and/or dividend payments;

 

Amortization expenses related to acquired intangible assets and other adverse accounting consequences;

 

Diversion of management’s attention or other resources from our existing business;

 

Difficulties and expenses in integrating the operations, products, technology, privacy protection systems, information systems or personnel of the company, including the assimilation of corporate cultures;

 

Difficulties in implementing and retaining uniform standards, controls, procedures, policies and information systems;

 

The assumption of known and unknown debt and liabilities of the acquired company, including costs associated with litigation and other claims relating to the acquired company;

 

Failure of any company which we have acquired, in which we have invested, or with which we have a commercial arrangement, to achieve anticipated revenues, earnings or cash flows or to retain key management or employees;

 

Failure to generate adequate returns on acquisitions and investments;

 

With respect to minority investments, limited management or operational control and reputational risk, which risk is heightened if the controlling person in such case has business interests, strategies or goals that are inconsistent with ours;

 

Entrance into markets in which we have no direct prior experience and increased complexity in our business;

 

Impairment of goodwill or other intangible assets such as trademarks or other intellectual property arising from acquisitions; and

 

Adverse market reaction to acquisitions.

We have recently invested, and may in the future invest, in privately-held companies and these investments are currently accounted for under the cost method.  Such investments are inherently risky in that such companies are typically at an early stage of development, may have no or limited revenues, may not be or may never become profitable, may not be able to secure additional funding or their technologies, services or products may not be successfully developed or introduced into the market. Further, our ability to liquidate any such investments is typically dependent upon some liquidity event, such as a public offering or acquisition, since no public market exists for such securities.  Valuations of such privately-held companies are inherently complex and uncertain due to the lack of liquid market for the company’s securities.  Moreover, we could lose the full amount of any of our investments and any impairment of our investments could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

We cannot assure you that these investments will be successful or that such endeavors will result in the realization of the full benefits of synergies, cost savings, innovation and operational efficiencies that may be possible or that we will achieve these benefits within a reasonable period of time.  

If we fail to manage our growth effectively, our brand, results of operations and business could be harmed.

We have experienced rapid growth in our headcount and operations, including through acquisitions of other businesses and in new international markets.  We continue to make substantial investments in our technology and

 

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sales and marketing organizations.  This growth places substantial demands on management and our operational infrastructure. In addition, as our business matures, we make periodic changes and adjustments to our organization in response to various internal and external considerations, including market opportunities, the competitive landscape, new and enhanced products and acquisitions.  These changes may result in a temporary lack of focus or productivity or otherwise impact our business.  

To manage our growth, we may need to improve our operational, financial and management systems and processes which may require significant capital expenditures and allocation of valuable management and employee resources.  As we continue to grow, we must effectively integrate, develop and motivate a large number of new employees, including employees in international markets, while maintaining the beneficial aspects of our company culture.  If we do not manage the growth of our business and operations effectively, the quality of our platform and efficiency of our operations could suffer, which could harm our brand, results of operations and business.

We are regularly subject to claims, suits, government investigations, and other proceedings that may result in adverse outcomes.

We are regularly subject to claims, suits, government investigations and other proceedings involving competition, intellectual property, privacy and data protection, consumer protection, tax, labor and employment, commercial disputes, content generated by our users, free speech issues, goods and services offered by advertisers or publishers using our platforms, and other matters. In addition, our businesses face intellectual property litigation that exposes us to the risk of exclusion and cease and desist orders, which could limit our ability to sell products and services.

Such claims, suits, government investigations and proceedings are inherently uncertain and their results cannot be predicted with certainty. Regardless of the outcome, any of these types of legal proceedings can have an adverse impact on us because of legal costs, diversion of management resources, injunctions or damage awards and other factors. Determining reserves for our pending litigation is a complex, fact-intensive process that requires significant judgment. It is possible that a resolution of one or more such proceedings could result in substantial fines and penalties that could adversely affect our business, consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows in a particular period. These proceedings could also result in reputational harm, criminal sanctions, consent decrees, or orders preventing us from offering certain features, functionalities, products, or services, requiring a change in our business practices or other field action, or requiring development of non-infringing or otherwise altered products or technologies. Any of these consequences could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Our international operations involve additional risks and our exposure to these risks increases as our business continues to expand globally.

We operate in a number of jurisdictions outside of the United States and continue to expand our international operations. Many of these regions have different economic conditions, languages, currencies, consumer expectations, levels of consumer acceptance and use of the internet for commerce, legislation, regulatory environments (including labors laws and customs), tax laws and levels of political stability.  We are subject to associated risks typical of international businesses, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

Local economic or political instability;

 

Threatened or actual acts of terrorism;

 

Compliance with additional laws applicable to companies operating internationally as well as local laws and regulations, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and U.K. Bribery Act, data privacy requirements, labor and employment law, laws regarding advertisements and promotions and anti-competition regulations;

 

Diminished ability to legally enforce contractual rights;

 

Increased risk and limits on enforceability of intellectual property rights;

 

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Restrictions on, or adverse consequences related to, the withdrawal of non-U.S. investment and earnings;

 

Restrictions on repatriation of cash as well as restrictions on investments in operations in certain countries;

 

Financial risk arising from transactions in multiple currencies as well as foreign currency exchange restrictions;

 

Slower adoption of the internet as an advertising, broadcast and commerce medium in certain of those markets as compared to the United States;

 

Difficulties in managing staff and operations due to distance, time zones, language and cultural differences; and

 

Uncertainty regarding liability for services, content and intellectual property rights, including uncertainty as a result of local laws and lack of precedent.

We have a business operating in China, which creates particular risks and uncertainties relating to the laws in China. The laws and regulations of China restrict foreign investment in areas including air-ticketing and travel agency services, internet content provision, mobile communication and related businesses. Although we have established effective control of our Chinese business through a series of agreements, future developments in the interpretation or enforcement of Chinese laws and regulations or a dispute relating to these agreements could restrict our ability to operate or restructure this business or to engage in strategic transactions.  The success of this business, and of any future investments in China, is subject to risks and uncertainties regarding the application, development and interpretation of China’s laws and regulations.  

Furthermore, we are also accumulating a greater portion of our cash flows in foreign jurisdictions, which we consider indefinitely reinvested. The repatriation of such funds for use in the United States, including for corporate purposes such as acquisitions, stock repurchases, dividends or debt refinancings, may result in additional U.S. income tax expense and higher cost for such capital.

A failure to comply with current laws, rules and regulations or changes to such laws, rules and regulations and other legal uncertainties may adversely affect our business or financial performance.

Our business and financial performance could be adversely affected by unfavorable changes in or interpretations of existing laws, rules and regulations or the promulgation of new laws, rules and regulations applicable to us and our business, including those relating to the internet and online commerce, internet advertising and online commerce, consumer protection, data security and privacy, travel and vacation rental licensing and listing requirements and tax. In some cases, these laws continue to evolve.  

For example, there is, and will likely continue to be, an increasing number of laws and regulations pertaining to the internet and online commerce that may relate to liability for information retrieved from or transmitted over the internet, online editorial and user-generated content, user privacy, data security, behavioral targeting and online advertising, taxation, liability for third-party activities and the quality of products and services. In addition, enforcement authorities in the United States continue to rely on their authority under existing consumer protection laws to take action against companies relating to data privacy and security practices. The growth and development of online commerce may prompt calls for more stringent consumer protection laws and more aggressive enforcement efforts, which may impose additional burdens on online businesses generally.  

Further, our vacation rentals business has been and continues to be subject to regulatory developments that affect the vacation rental industry and the ability of competitors like us to list those vacation rentals online.  For example, some states and local jurisdictions have adopted or are considering adopting statutes or ordinances that prohibit property owners and managers from renting certain properties for fewer than 30 consecutive days.  Some states and local jurisdictions also have fair housing or other laws governing whether and how properties may be rented, which they assert apply to vacation rentals.  Many homeowners, condominium and neighborhood associations have adopted rules that prohibit or restrict short-term vacation rentals.  

 

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We also have been subject, and we will likely be subject in the future, to inquiries from time to time from regulatory bodies concerning compliance with consumer protection, competition, tax and travel industry-specific laws and regulations. The failure of our businesses to comply with these laws and regulations could result in fines and/or proceedings against us by governmental agencies and/or consumers, which if material, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Further, if such laws and regulations are not enforced equally against other competitors in a particular market, our compliance with such laws may put us a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis competitors who do not comply with such requirements.

The promulgation of new laws, rules and regulations, or the new interpretation of existing laws, rules and regulations, in each case that restrict or otherwise unfavorably impact the ability or manner in which we provide services could require us to change certain aspects of our business, operations and commercial relationships to ensure compliance, which could decrease demand for services, reduce revenues, increase costs and/or subject the company to additional liabilities.  Unfavorable changes could decrease demand for products and services, limit marketing methods and capabilities, increase costs and/or subject us to additional liabilities.  Violations of these laws and regulations could result in finds and/or criminal sanctions against us, our officers or our employees and/or prohibitions on the conduct of our business.  

We cannot be sure that our intellectual property is protected from copying or use by others, including potential competitors.

Our websites rely on content, brands and technology, much of which is proprietary. We protect our proprietary content, brands and technology by relying on a combination of trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, patents and confidentiality agreements. Any misappropriation or violation of our rights could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even with these precautions, it may be possible for another party to copy or otherwise obtain and use our proprietary technology, content or brands without authorization or to develop similar technology, content or brands independently.

Effective intellectual property protection is expensive to develop and maintain, both in terms of initial and ongoing registration requirements and expenses and the costs of defending our rights.  In addition, effective intellectual property protection may not be available in every jurisdiction in which our services are made available, and policing unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and expensive. Therefore, in certain jurisdictions, we may be unable to protect our intellectual property adequately against unauthorized third-party copying or use, which could adversely affect our business or ability to compete. We cannot be sure that the steps we have taken will prevent misappropriation or infringement of our intellectual property. Furthermore, we may need to go to court or other tribunals or administrative bodies in order to enforce our intellectual property rights, to protect our trade secrets or to determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others. These proceedings might result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. Our failure to protect our intellectual property in a cost-effective or effective manner could have a material adverse effect on our business and ability to protect our technology, content and brands.

We currently license from third parties and incorporate the technologies and content into our websites. As we continue to introduce new services that incorporate new technologies and content, we may be required to license additional technology, or content. We cannot be sure that such technology or content will be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all.

Our processing, storage and use of personal information and other data exposes us to risks of external and internal security breaches and could give rise to liabilities.

We are subject to a variety of laws in the United States and abroad regarding privacy and the storing, sharing, use, processing, disclosure and protection of personal information and other consumer data, the scope of which are changing, subject to differing interpretations, and may be inconsistent between countries or conflict with other rules. In addition, the security of data when engaging in electronic commerce is essential to maintaining consumer and travel service provider confidences in our services.  The regulatory framework for privacy issues worldwide is currently in flux and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Practices regarding the collection, use, storage, transmission and security of personal information by companies operating over the internet have recently come

 

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under increased public scrutiny. The U.S. Congress and federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, are reviewing the need for greater regulation for the collection and use of information concerning consumer behavior on the internet. Various U.S. courts are also considering the applicability of existing federal and state statutes, including computer trespass and wiretapping laws, to the collection and exchange of information online. In addition, the European Union has adopted a new data protection legal framework, effective in May 2018, which may result in a greater compliance burden for companies, including us, with users in Europe and increased costs of compliance.

Potential security breaches to our systems, whether resulting from internal or external sources, could significantly harm our business. A party, whether internal or external, that is able to circumvent our security systems could misappropriate user information or proprietary information or cause significant interruptions in our operations. In the past, we have experienced “denial-of-service” type attacks on our systems that have made portions of our websites unavailable for short periods of time as well as unauthorized access of our systems and data. We also face risks associated with security breaches affecting third parties conducting business over the internet. Much of our business is conducted with third party marketing affiliates or, more recently, through business partners powering our instant booking feature.  In addition, we frequently use third parties to process credit card payments. A security breach at such third party could be perceived by consumers as a security breach of our systems and could result in negative publicity, damage our reputation, expose us to risk of loss or litigation and possible liability and subject us to regulatory penalties and sanctions. In addition, such third parties may not comply with applicable disclosure requirements, which could expose us to liability.

We strive to comply with all applicable laws, policies, legal obligations and industry codes of conduct relating to privacy and data protection. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with our privacy policies, privacy-related obligations to users or other third parties, or privacy-related legal obligations, or any compromise of security that results in the unauthorized release or transfer of personally identifiable information or other user data, may result in governmental enforcement actions, litigation or public statements that could harm our reputation and cause our customers and members to lose trust in us, which could have an adverse effect on our business, brand, market share and results of operations.  We may need to expend significant resources to protect against security breaches or to investigate and address problems caused by breaches, and reductions in website availability could cause a loss of substantial business volume during the occurrence of any such incident. Because the techniques used to sabotage security change frequently, often are not recognized until launched against a target and may originate from less regulated and remote areas around the world, we may be unable to proactively address these techniques or to implement adequate preventive measures. Security breaches could result in negative publicity, damage to reputation, exposure to risk of loss or litigation and possible liability due to regulatory penalties and sanctions. Security breaches could also cause travelers and potential users to lose confidence in our security, which would have a negative effect on the value of our brand. Failure to adequately protect against attacks or intrusions, whether for our own systems or systems of vendors, could expose us to security breaches that could have an adverse impact on financial performance.

We have acquired a number of companies over the years and may continue to do so in the future. While we make significant efforts to address any information technology security issues with respect to our acquisitions, we may still inherit such risks when we integrate the acquired businesses.  

System interruption and the lack of redundancy in some of our internal information systems may harm our business.

We rely on computer systems to deliver content and services. We have experienced and may in the future experience system interruptions that make some or all of these systems unavailable or prevent us from efficiently providing content and services to users and third parties. Significant interruptions, outages or delays in internal systems, or systems of third parties that we rely upon, or deterioration in the performance of any such systems, would impair our ability to process transactions or display content and decrease the quality of the services we offer to travelers and users. These interruptions could include security intrusions and attacks on our systems for fraud or service interruption (called “denial of service” or “bot” attacks).  Fire, flood, power loss, telecommunications failure, break-ins, earthquakes, acts of war or terrorism, acts of God, computer viruses, electronic intrusion attempts from both external and internal sources and similar events or disruptions may damage or impact or interrupt

 

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computer or communications systems or business processes at any time.   If we experience frequent or persistent system failures, our reputation and brand could be permanently and significantly harmed. 

Although we have put measures in place to protect certain portions of our facilities and assets, any of these events could cause system interruption, delays and loss of critical data, and could prevent us from providing content and services to users, travelers and/or third parties for a significant period of time. In addition, remediation may be costly and we may not have adequate insurance to cover such costs. Moreover, the costs of enhancing infrastructure to attain improved stability and redundancy may be time consuming and expensive and may require resources and expertise that are difficult to obtain.

We may have future capital needs and may not be able to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms.  

On June 26, 2015, we entered into a new credit agreement with respect to a $1 billion five-year revolving credit facility, or the “2015 Credit Facility.”  This agreement includes restrictive covenants that may impact the way we manage our business and may limit our ability to secure significant additional financing in the future on favorable terms. Our ability to secure additional financing and satisfy our financial obligations under indebtedness outstanding from time to time will depend upon our future operating performance, which is subject to then prevailing general economic and credit market conditions, including interest rate levels and the availability of credit generally, and financial, business and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. In light of periodic uncertainty in the capital and credit markets, there can be no assurance that sufficient financing will be available on desirable or even any terms to fund investments, acquisitions, stock repurchases, dividends, debt refinancing or extraordinary actions or that counterparties in any such financings would honor their contractual commitments.

We have indebtedness which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.

We currently have outstanding $91 million in long-term debt.  Risks relating to our indebtedness include:

 

Increasing our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions;

 

Requiring us to dedicate a portion of our cash flow from operations to principal and interest payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and investments and other general corporate purposes;

 

Making it more difficult for us to optimally capitalize and manage the cash flow for our businesses;

 

Limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our businesses and the markets in which we operate;

 

Possibly placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt;

 

Limiting our ability to borrow additional funds or to borrow funds at rates or on other terms that we find acceptable; and

 

Exposing us to the risk of increased interest rates because our outstanding debt is expected to be subject to variable rates of interest.

In addition, it is possible that we may need to incur additional indebtedness in the future in the ordinary course of business. The terms of our 2015 Credit Facility allow us to incur additional debt subject to certain limitations; however, there is no assurance that additional financing will be available to us on terms favorable to us, if at all.  In addition, if new debt is added to current debt levels, the risks described above could intensify.

 

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Our 2015 Credit Facility provides for various provisions that limit our discretion in the operation of our business and require us to meet financial maintenance tests and other covenants and the failure to comply with their covenants could have a material adverse effect on us.

We are party to a credit agreement providing for our 2015 Credit Facility.  The agreements that govern the 2015 Credit Facility contain various covenants, including those that limit our ability to, among other things:

 

Incur indebtedness;

 

Pay dividends on, redeem or repurchase our capital stock;

 

Enter into certain asset sale transactions, including partial or full spin-off transactions;

 

Enter into secured financing arrangements;

 

Enter into sale and leaseback transactions; and

 

Enter into unrelated businesses.

These covenants may limit our ability to optimally operate our business. In addition, our 2015 Credit Facility requires that we meet certain financial tests, including a leverage ratio test. Any failure to comply with the restrictions of our credit facility may result in an event of default under the agreements governing such facilities. Such default may allow the creditors to accelerate the debt incurred thereunder. In addition, lenders may be able to terminate any commitments they had made to supply us with further funds (including periodic rollovers of existing borrowings).

Our effective tax rate is impacted by a number of factors that could have a material impact on our financial results and could increase the volatility of those results.

Due to the global nature of our business, we are subject to income taxes in the United States and other foreign jurisdictions. In the event we incur net income in certain jurisdictions but incur losses in other jurisdictions, we generally cannot offset the income from one jurisdiction with the loss from another, which could increase our effective tax rate. Furthermore, significant judgment is required to calculate our worldwide provision for income taxes and depends on our ability to operate our business in a manner consistent with our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements. In the ordinary course of our business there are many transactions and calculations where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain.

We believe our tax estimates are reasonable.  However, we are routinely under audit by federal, state and foreign taxing authorities.  The taxing authorities of jurisdictions in which we operate may challenge our methodologies for valuing developed technology or intercompany arrangements, including our transfer pricing, or determine that the manner in which we operate our business does not achieve the intended tax consequences, which would increase our effective tax rate and harm our financial position and results of operations.  As we operate in numerous taxing jurisdictions, the application of tax laws can also be subject to diverging and sometimes conflicting interpretations by taxing authorities of these jurisdictions.  It is not uncommon for taxing authorities of different countries to have conflicting views, for instance, with respect to, among other things, the manner in which the arm’s length standard is applied for transfer pricing purposes, or with respect to the valuation of intellectual property.  The final determination of audits could be materially different from our income tax provisions and accruals and could have a material effect on our financial position, results of operations, or cash flows in the period or periods for which that determination is made.

Additionally, we earn an increasing portion of our income, and accumulate a greater portion of cash flow, in foreign jurisdictions, which we consider indefinitely reinvested. Any repatriation of funds currently held in foreign jurisdictions may result in higher effective tax rates and incremental cash tax payments. In addition, there have been proposals to amend U.S. tax laws that would significantly impact the manner in which U.S. companies are taxed on foreign earnings. Although we cannot predict whether or in what form any legislation will pass, if enacted, it could have a material adverse impact on our U.S. tax expense and cash flows.

 

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Changes in tax laws or tax rulings, or the examination of our tax positions, could materially affect our financial position and results of operations.

Tax laws are dynamic and subject to change as new laws are passed and new interpretations of the law are issued or applied. Our existing corporate structure and intercompany arrangements have been implemented in a manner we believe is in compliance with current prevailing tax laws. However, the tax benefits that we intend to eventually derive could be undermined due to changing tax laws. In particular, the current U.S. administration and key members of Congress have made public statements indicating that tax reform is a priority, resulting in uncertainty not only with respect to the future corporate tax rate, but also the U.S. tax consequences of income derived from income related to intellectual property earned overseas in low tax jurisdictions. Certain changes to U.S. tax laws, including limitations on the ability to defer U.S. taxation on earnings outside of the United States until those earnings are repatriated to the United States, as well as changes to U.S. tax laws that may be enacted in the future, could affect the tax treatment of our foreign earnings.

In addition, the taxing authorities in the United States and other jurisdictions where we do business regularly examine our income and other tax returns as well as the tax returns of Expedia, our former parent. The ultimate outcome of these examinations (including the IRS audit described below) cannot be predicted with certainty. Should the IRS or other taxing authorities assess additional taxes as a result of examinations, we may be required to record charges to our operations, which could harm our business, operating results and financial condition. 

In connection with the Spin-Off, we could be subject to significant tax liabilities.

Under the Tax Sharing Agreement between us and Expedia entered into in connection with the Spin-Off, we are generally required to indemnify Expedia for any taxes resulting from the Spin-Off (and any related interest, penalties, legal and professional fees, and all costs and damages associated with related stockholder litigation or controversies) to the extent such amounts resulted from (i) any act or failure to act by us described in the covenants in the tax sharing agreement, (ii) any acquisition of our equity securities or assets or those of a member of our group, or (iii) any failure of the representations with respect to us or any member of our group to be true or any breach by us or any member of our group of any covenant, in each case, which is contained in the separation documents or in the documents relating to the IRS private letter ruling and/or the opinion of counsel.

We continue to be responsible for potential tax liabilities in connection with consolidated income tax returns filed with Expedia prior to or in connection with the Spin-Off. By virtue of previously filed consolidated tax returns with Expedia, we are currently under an IRS audit for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 tax years. In connection with that audit, we received notices of proposed adjustment from the IRS for the 2009 and 2010 tax years in January 2017, which would result in an increase in our worldwide income tax expense. The proposed adjustments would result in an increase to our worldwide income tax expense in an estimated range of $10 million to $14 million after consideration of competent authority relief, exclusive of interest and penalties. We are also subject to various ongoing state income tax audits. The outcome of these matters or any other audits could subject us to significant tax liabilities.

We are subject to fluctuation in foreign currency exchange risk.

We conduct a significant and growing portion of our business outside the United States but report our results in U.S. dollars. As a result, we face exposure to movements in foreign currency exchange rates, particularly those related to the Euro, British pound sterling, and Australian dollar. These exposures include, but are not limited to re-measurement of gains and losses from changes in the value of foreign denominated assets and liabilities; translation gains and losses on foreign subsidiary financial results that are translated into U.S. dollars upon consolidation; and planning risk related to changes in exchange rates between the time we prepare our annual and quarterly forecasts and when actual results occur.

Depending on the size of the exposures and the relative movements of exchange rates, if we were to choose not to hedge or were to fail to hedge effectively our exposure, we could experience a material adverse effect on our financial statements and financial condition. As seen in some recent periods, in the event of severe volatility in

 

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exchange rates the impact of these exposures can increase, and the impact on results of operations can be more pronounced. In addition, the current environment and the increasingly global nature of our business have made hedging these exposures both more complex. We hedge certain short-term foreign currency exposures with the purchase of forward exchange contracts. These forward exchange contracts only help mitigate the impact of changes in foreign currency rates that occur during the term of the related contract period and carry risks of counter-party failure. There can be no assurance that our forward exchange contracts will have their intended effects.

Significant fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates can affect consumer travel behavior. Volatility in foreign currency exchange rates and its impact on consumer behavior, which may differ across regions, makes it more difficult to forecast industry and consumer trends and the timing and degree of their impact on our markets and business, which in turn could adversely affect our ability to effectively manage our business and adversely affect our results of operations.

Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc. currently is a controlling stockholder.

Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc., or LTRIP, effectively controls the outcome of all matters submitted to a vote or for the consent of our stockholders (other than with respect to the election by the holders of our common stock of 25% of the members of our Board of Directors and matters as to which Delaware law requires separate class votes), including but not limited to, corporate transactions such as mergers, business combinations or dispositions of assets, the authorization or issuance of new equity or debt securities and determinations with respect to our business direction and policies.  Our Chairman Greg Maffei and Director Albert Rosenthaler also serve as officers and directors of LTRIP.  LTRIP, which has investments in other companies, may have interests that differ from those of our other stockholders and they may vote in a way with which our other stockholders may not agree or that may be adverse to other stockholders’ interests.  LTRIP is not restricted from investing in other businesses involving or related to our business.  Liberty’s control of us, as well as the existing provisions of our organizational documents and Delaware law, may discourage or prevent a change of control that might otherwise be beneficial, which may reduce the market price of our common stock.

We are currently relying on the “controlled company” exemption under NASDAQ Stock Market Listing Rules, pursuant to which “controlled companies” are exempt from certain corporate governance requirements otherwise applicable under NASDAQ listing rules.

The NASDAQ Stock Market Listing Rules exempt “controlled companies,” or companies of which more than 50% of the voting power is held by an individual, a group or another company, from certain corporate governance requirements, including those requirements that:

 

A majority of the Board of Directors consist of independent directors;

 

Compensation of officers be determined or recommended to the Board of Directors by a majority of its independent directors or by a compensation committee comprised solely of independent directors; and

 

Director nominees be selected or recommended to the Board of Directors by a majority of its independent directors or by a nominating committee that is composed entirely of independent directors.

We currently rely on the controlled company exemption for certain of the above requirements. Accordingly, our stockholders will not be afforded the same protections generally as stockholders of other NASDAQ-listed companies with respect to corporate governance for so long as we rely on these exemptions from the corporate governance requirements.

If we are unable to successfully maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in our reported financial information and our stock price and business may be adversely impacted.

As a public company, we are required to maintain internal control over financial reporting and our management is required to evaluate the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of the end of each fiscal year. Additionally, we are required to disclose in our Annual Reports on Form 10-K our management’s

 

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assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and a registered public accounting firm’s attestation report on this assessment. If we are not successful in maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, there could be inaccuracies or omissions in the consolidated financial information we are required to file with the SEC. Additionally, even if there are no inaccuracies or omissions, we could be required to publicly disclose the conclusion of our management that our internal control over financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures are not effective. These events could cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, adversely impact our stock price, result in increased costs to remediate any deficiencies, attract regulatory scrutiny or lawsuits that could be costly to resolve and distract management’s attention, limit our ability to access the capital markets or cause our stock to be delisted from NASDAQ or any other securities exchange on which we are then listed.

The market price and trading volume of our common stock may be volatile and may face negative pressure.

Our stock price has experienced, and could continue to experience in the future, substantial volatility. The market price of our common stock is affected by a number of factors, including the risk factors described in this section and other factors beyond our control. Factors affecting the trading price of our common stock could include:

 

Quarterly variations in our or our competitors’ results of operations;

 

Changes in earnings estimates or recommendations by securities analysts;

 

Failure to meet market expectations;

 

The announcement of new products or product enhancements by us or our competitors;

 

Repurchases of our common stock pursuant to our share repurchase program which could also cause our stock price to be higher than it would be in the absence of such a program and could potentially reduce the market liquidity for our stock;

 

Developments in our industry, including changes in governmental regulations; and

 

General market conditions and other factors, including factors related to our operating performance or the operating performance of our competitors.

Furthermore, the stock markets have experienced price and volume fluctuations that have affected and continue to affect the market prices of equity securities of many companies. These fluctuations often have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. These broad market and industry fluctuations and general economic, political and market conditions, such as recessions, interest rate changes or international currency fluctuations, may negatively impact the market price of our common stock regardless of our actual operating performance.

Future sales of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that such sales may occur, may depress our stock price.

For the period ended December 31, 2016, the average daily trading volume of our common stock on NASDAQ was approximately 2.2 million shares. If our existing stockholders or their distributees sell substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, the market price of the common stock could decrease significantly. The perception in the public market that our existing stockholders might sell shares of common stock could also depress the trading price of our common stock. In addition, certain stockholders have rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other stockholders. If LTRIP or some other stockholder sells substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, or if there is a perception in the public market that LTRIP might sell shares of our common stock, the market price of our common stock could decrease significantly. A decline in the price of shares of our common stock might impede our ability to raise capital through the issuance of additional shares of our common stock or other equity securities.

 

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Anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents and Delaware law may discourage or prevent a change of control, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our stockholders, which could affect our stock price adversely and prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws contain provisions that could delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our Board of Directors that our stockholders might consider favorable. These provisions include:

 

Authorization and issuance of Class B common stock that entitles holders to ten votes per share;

 

Authorization of the issuance of preferred stock which can be created and issued by the Board of Directors without prior stockholder approval, with rights senior to those of our common stock;

 

Prohibiting our stockholders from filling board vacancies or calling special stockholder meetings; and

 

Limiting who may call special meetings of stockholders.

We are subject to the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which may prohibit certain business combinations with stockholders owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock. These and other provisions in our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and Delaware law could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our Board of Directors or initiate actions that are opposed by our then-current Board of Directors, including a merger, tender offer or proxy contest involving our company. Any delay or prevention of a change of control transaction or changes in our Board of Directors could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

 

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2.

Properties

We currently lease approximately 280,000 square feet for our corporate headquarters in Needham, Massachusetts, pursuant to a lease with an expiration date of December 2030, with an option to extend the lease term for two consecutive terms of five years each.  Refer to “Note 13— Commitments and Contingencies ” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further information on our corporate headquarters.

We also lease an aggregate of approximately 465,000 square feet at approximately 40 other locations across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, including New York, Boston, London, Sydney, Barcelona, Paris, and Beijing, primarily for our sales offices, subsidiary headquarters, and international management teams, pursuant to leases with various expiration dates, with the latest expiring in June 2027. We believe that our current facilities are adequate for our current operations and that additional leased space can be obtained on reasonable terms if needed. We do not legally own any real estate as of December 31, 2016.

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

In the ordinary course of business, we are parties to legal proceedings and claims involving alleged infringement of third-party intellectual property rights, defamation, taxes, regulatory compliance and other claims. Rules and regulations promulgated by the SEC require the description of material pending legal proceedings, other than ordinary, routine litigation incident to the registrant’s business, and advise that proceedings ordinarily need not be described if they primarily involve damages claims for amounts (exclusive of interest and costs) not individually exceeding 10% of the current assets of the registrant and its subsidiaries on a consolidated basis. In the judgment of management, none of the pending litigation matters that we are defending involves or is likely to involve amounts of that magnitude. There may be claims or actions pending or threatened against us of which we are currently not aware and the ultimate disposition of which could have a material adverse effect on us.

 

27


Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

 

 

 

 

28


Part II

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Market Information

Our common stock is quoted on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “TRIP.” On February 10, 2017, the closing price of our common stock reported on NASDAQ was $52.00 per share. The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, the high and low sale prices per share of our common stock as reported on NASDAQ during the period indicated.

 

 

 

High

 

 

Low

 

Year ended December 31, 2016:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourth Quarter:

 

$

66.13

 

 

$

45.63

 

Third Quarter:

 

$

71.69

 

 

$

59.72

 

Second Quarter:

 

$

71.61

 

 

$

58.96

 

First Quarter:

 

$

83.97

 

 

$

53.48

 

Year ended December 31, 2015:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourth Quarter:

 

$

87.50

 

 

$

63.00

 

Third Quarter:

 

$

94.00

 

 

$

62.24

 

Second Quarter:

 

$

92.00

 

 

$

74.14

 

First Quarter:

 

$

91.47

 

 

$

66.04

 

Our Class B common stock is not listed and there is no established public trading market for that security. As of February 10, 2017, all of our Class B common stock was held by LTRIP.

 

29


Performance Comparison Graph

The following graph provides a comparison of the total stockholder return from December 21, 2011 to December 31, 2016 of an investment of $100 in cash on December 21, 2011 for TripAdvisor, Inc. common stock and an investment of $100 in cash on November 30, 2011 for (i) the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index (the “S&P 500 Index”), (ii) the NASDAQ Composite Index, and (iii) the Research Data Group (“RDG”) Internet Composite Index. The RDG Internet Composite Index is an index of stocks representing the internet industry, including internet software and service companies and e-commerce companies. The stock price performance shown on the graph below is not necessarily indicative of future price performance. Data for the S&P 500 Index, the NASDAQ Composite Index, and the RDG Internet Composite Index assume reinvestment of dividends. We have never paid dividends on our common stock.

 

This performance comparison graph is not “soliciting material,” is not deemed filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is not deemed to be incorporated by reference by any general statement incorporating by reference this Annual Report on Form 10-K into any filing of TripAdvisor, Inc. under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), or any filing under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), except to the extent that we specifically request that the information be treated as soliciting material or specifically incorporate this information by reference into any such filing, and will not otherwise be deemed incorporated by reference into any other filing under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate it by reference.

 

30


Holders of Record

As of February 10, 2017, there were 131,359,879 outstanding shares of our common stock held by 2,561 stockholders of record, and 12,799,999 outstanding shares of our Class B common stock held by one stockholder of record: LTRIP.

Dividends

We have never declared or paid dividends and do not expect to pay any dividends for the foreseeable future. Our ability to pay dividends is limited by the terms of our 2015 Credit Facility. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – 2015 Credit Facility” for additional information regarding this revolving credit facility.  Any future determination as to the declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on then-existing conditions, including our financial condition, operating results, contractual restrictions, capital requirements, business prospects and other factors our Board of Directors may deem relevant.

Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities

During the year ended December 31, 2016, we did not issue or sell any shares of our common stock, Class B common stock or other equity securities pursuant to unregistered transactions in reliance upon an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

In February 2013, we announced that our Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of $250 million of our shares of common stock under a share repurchase program. During the three months ended December 31, 2016, we repurchased 1,651,957 shares of outstanding common stock under the share repurchase program at an average price of $50.76 per share.  Below is a summary of information about our purchases of equity recently during the fourth quarter of 2016:

  

Period

 

Total Number of Shares Purchased

 

 

Average Price Paid per Share (1)

 

Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs

 

 

Maximum Number (or Approximate U.S. dollar Value) of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs

 

October 1 to October 31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

 

83,808,163

 

November 1 to November 30

 

 

1,651,957

 

 

$

50.76

 

 

1,651,957

 

 

$

 

December 1 to December 31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

 

Total

 

 

1,651,957

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,651,957

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

These amounts include fees and commissions associated with the share repurchase.

As of December 31, 2016, we have repurchased a total of 4,123,065 shares of outstanding common stock under the share repurchase program at an average price of $60.63 per share and have completed our share repurchase program authorized by our Board of Directors.  See “Note 15 — Stockholders’ Equity ” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 for additional information regarding our treasury shares.

On January 25, 2017, our Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of $250 million of our shares of common stock under a new share repurchase program. The repurchase program has no expiration but may

 

31


be suspended or terminated by the Board of Directors at any time. The Executive Committee of our Board of Directors will determine the price, timing, amount and method of such repurchases based on its evaluation of market conditions and other factors, and any shares repurchased will be in compliance with applicable legal requirements, at prices determined to be attractive and in the best interests of both the Company and its stockholders

Equity Compensation Plan Information

Our equity plan information required by this item is incorporated by reference to the information in Part III, Item 12, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

Ite m 6.

Selected Financial Data

We have derived the following selected financial data presented below from our consolidated financial statements and related notes. The information set forth below is not necessarily indicative of future results and should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing in Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” and Item 7 “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected in any future period.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

(in millions, except per share data)

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue

 

$

1,480

 

 

$

1,492

 

 

$

1,246

 

 

$

945

 

 

$

763

 

Operating income (1)

 

 

166

 

 

 

232

 

 

 

340

 

 

 

294

 

 

 

296

 

Net Income

 

 

120

 

 

 

198

 

 

 

226

 

 

 

205

 

 

 

195

 

Net income attributable to TripAdvisor, Inc.

 

 

120

 

 

 

198

 

 

 

226

 

 

 

205

 

 

 

194

 

Earnings per share attributable to common stockholders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic (2)

 

$

0.83

 

 

$

1.38

 

 

$

1.58

 

 

$

1.44

 

 

$

1.39

 

Diluted (2)

 

 

0.82

 

 

 

1.36

 

 

 

1.55

 

 

 

1.41

 

 

 

1.37

 

Shares used in computing net income per share:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic (2)

 

 

145

 

 

 

144

 

 

 

143

 

 

 

143

 

 

 

139

 

Diluted (2)

 

 

147

 

 

 

146

 

 

 

146

 

 

 

145

 

 

 

141

 

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

(in millions)

 

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents, short and long term

   marketable securities

 

$

746

 

 

$

698

 

 

$

594

 

 

$

670

 

 

$

586

 

Working capital (3)

 

 

527

 

 

 

553

 

 

 

356

 

 

 

387

 

 

 

437

 

Total assets

 

 

2,238

 

 

 

2,128

 

 

 

1,948

 

 

 

1,473

 

 

 

1,299

 

Long-term debt, less current portion (4)

 

 

91

 

 

 

200

 

 

 

259

 

 

 

300

 

 

 

340

 

Other long-term obligations under financing obligation

 

 

84

 

 

 

84

 

 

 

67

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

Total stockholders’ equity (5)

 

 

1,502

 

 

 

1,412

 

 

 

1,125

 

 

 

865

 

 

 

727

 

 

(1)

Includes a non-cash charitable contribution to The TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation (the “Foundation”) of $67 million for the year ended December 31, 2015.  In comparison, charitable contributions to the Foundation, which were paid in cash, were $8 million, $7 million and $7 million for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013, and 2012, respectively. There were no charitable contributions made to the Foundation for the year ended December 31, 2016, and the Company does not expect to make any future contributions to the Foundation.  See “Note 17 —Segments and Geographic Information in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 for further information regarding this charitable contribution.

(2)

See “Note 5 —Earnings per Share in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 for further information regarding our calculation of earnings per share numbers.

 

32


(3)

Amount does not include available for sale long-term marketable securities of $16 million, $37 million, $31 million, $188 million, and $99 million, as of December 31, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012, respectively.

(4)

See “Note 9— Debt ” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 for information regarding our long-term debt.

(5)

See our consolidated statements of changes in stockholders’ equity and “Note 15— Stockholders’ Equity ” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 for additional information on changes to our stockholders’ equity.

 

 

 

 

33


 

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

Overview

TripAdvisor, Inc., by and through its subsidiaries, owns and operates a portfolio of leading online travel brands. TripAdvisor, our flagship brand, is the world’s largest travel site, and its mission is to help people around the world plan, book and experience the perfect trip. We accomplish this by, among other things, aggregating millions of travelers’ reviews and opinions about destinations, accommodations, activities and attractions, and restaurants worldwide, thereby creating the foundation for a unique platform that enables users to research and plan their travel experiences. Our platform also enables users to compare real-time pricing and availability for these experiences as well as to book hotels, flights, cruises, vacation rentals, tours, activities and attractions, and restaurants, either on a TripAdvisor site or app, or on the site or app of one of our travel partner sites.

Our TripAdvisor-branded websites include tripadvisor.com in the United States and localized versions of the TripAdvisor website in 48 markets and 28 languages worldwide. Our TripAdvisor-branded websites reached nearly 390 million average monthly unique visitors in our seasonal peak during the year ended December 31, 2016, according to our internal log files. We currently feature 465 million reviews and opinions on 7 million places to stay, places to eat and things to do – including 1,060,000 hotels and accommodations and 835,000 vacation rentals, 4.3 million restaurants and 760,000 activities and attractions worldwide.

In addition to the flagship TripAdvisor brand, we manage and operate 23 other travel media brands, connected by the common goal of providing users the most comprehensive travel-planning and trip-taking resources in the travel industry. For additional information about our portfolio of brands and our business model, see the disclosure set forth in Part I, Item 1, Business, under the caption “Overview.”

Our reporting structure includes two reportable segments: Hotel and Non-Hotel. Our Non-Hotel reportable segment consists of three operating segments, which includes our Attractions, Restaurants and Vacation Rentals businesses.  The segments are determined based on how the chief operating decision maker regularly assesses information and evaluates performance for operating decision-making purposes, including allocation of resources.   Financial information and additional descriptive information related to our segments and geographic information is contained in “Note 17 — Segment and Geographic Information ,” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 and below.

Executive Financial Summary and Trends

As the largest online travel platform, we believe we are an attractive marketing channel for advertisers—including hotel chains, independent hoteliers, OTAs, destination marketing organizations, and other travel-related and non-travel related product and service providers— who seek to sell their products and services to our large user base. We are also a booking platform offering users the ability to book hotels, flights, cruises, vacation rentals, tours, activities and attractions, and restaurants directly on our website. The key drivers of our financial results are described below, including a summary of our key financial results, business metrics, and current trends affecting our business, and our segment information.

Below are our key financial results and business metrics for the year ended December 31, 2016 (consolidated unless otherwise noted):

Financial results

 

Revenue of $1,480 million, a decrease of 1% year over year.

 

Hotel segment revenue of $1,190 million, a decrease of 6% year over year and Non-Hotel segment revenues of $290 million, an increase of 27% year over year.

 

Revenue from North America, EMEA, APAC and LATAM was $830 million, $454 million, $144 million and $52 million, respectively.

 

Total costs and expenses were $1,314 million.

 

34


 

 

Operating income was $166 million.

 

Effective tax rate of 20.5%.

 

Net income of $120 million, or diluted earnings per share of $0.82.

 

Operating cash flow was $321 million.

 

Capital expenditures were $72 million.

 

Cash and cash equivalents, and short and long term available-for-sale marketable securities were $746 million as of December 31, 2016.

 

Headcount was 3,327 as of December 31, 2016.

Business Metrics

 

Revenue per hotel shopper decreased 15% year over year.

 

Average unique monthly hotel shoppers increased 6% year over year.

Current Trends   in Our Business  

Hotel Segment

In our hotel segment, we have invested significant time and resources towards enabling users to book hotels on our sites and applications through our instant booking feature.  We began with the accelerated rollout in our two largest markets – the United States and the United Kingdom – in the third quarter of 2015, and completed an accelerated and staged global rollout of this feature to all of our markets during the first half of 2016. During the year, the instant booking feature has monetized at a lower revenue per hotel shopper rate than our metasearch feature, and therefore has been dilutive to our TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue growth and to our overall revenue per hotel shopper. However, in the second half of 2016, TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue growth rates improved as we lapped the instant booking rollout in the United States, our largest market, increased spend in our online paid marketing channels, and made product enhancements throughout the year. In addition, the majority of our instant booking revenue is recorded under the consumption model and is recognized at the time the traveler consumes, or completes, the stay. Comparatively, revenue recognized under our metasearch feature is recorded when a traveler makes the click-through to the travel partners’ websites.  In future periods, greater contribution from our instant booking consumption model to TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue could result in additional revenue recognized at the time of a consumed stay and therefore a shift in the timing of our revenue recognition.

During 2016, we continued to improve our hotel shopping experience, which included an improved display of our metasearch and instant booking features to hotel shoppers, as well as improving booking transaction acumen, which includes improving the on-site experience by offering the best price value proposition, improving room-level content, optimizing the room selection and booking path, and on-boarding more partners with strong branding and supply channels in order to achieve increased initial and repeat bookings. We have continued to explore and develop additional opportunities to engage users with our booking capabilities through online and offline marketing.  We now offer users an end-to-end hotel shopping experience, which we believe has improved the hotel shopping experience, as well as educated users about our more comprehensive offering, which we believe will enable us to drive more conversions of hotel shoppers to bookings, ultimately resulting in higher bookings for our partners and higher revenue per hotel shopper on our platform.

In 2016, hotel shopper growth slowed due to a number of factors, including lower revenue per hotel shopper impacting our advertising expenditure, macroeconomic and geopolitical factors, a continued intense competitive environment, and other travel market dynamics. One of our key strategic objectives is to grow our brand awareness and grow the number of hotel shoppers on our platforms. We continue to leverage a number of marketing channels, both paid and unpaid, to achieve this objective, including online efforts such as SEM, social media, and email campaigns, as well as offline efforts such as permanent branding campaigns (TripAdvisor-branded travel awards, certificates, stickers and badges). Over time, the traffic visiting our websites and applications from paid marketing

 

35


 

channels has generally grown faster than traffic from unpaid sources due to competition from other travel companies and search engines and we may see a continuation of this trend.

In 2016, hotel shoppers that visited our websites and applications on mobile phone continued to grow significantly faster than traffic from desktop and tablet devices. As a result, this has contributed to a decline in revenue per hotel shopper and our click-based and transaction revenue, as mobile phone devices monetize significantly less than desktop and tablet. This is due to a number of factors, including the fact that mobile phone is still in the early stages of eCommerce adoption, our partners reduced ability to attribute booking behavior on their websites and applications back to TripAdvisor, limited advertising opportunities on smaller screen devices, lower cost-per-click, lower booking intent, and lower average gross booking value based on consumer purchasing patterns. Mobile phone product development continues to be an area of strategic growth and investment, and we will continue to invest and innovate in this growing platform in order to increase our user base, engagement and monetization over the long term.

As a global travel business specializing in discretionary leisure travel, we believe our 2016 hotel shopper growth, revenue per hotel shopper and Hotel segment financial performance also was negatively impacted by macroeconomic and geopolitical dynamics, including foreign currency and a number of terrorism events, among other factors.

Non-Hotel Segment

TripAdvisor’s end-to-end user experience extends beyond our hotel business. In 2016, unique monthly users to non-hotel pages on our websites and applications – including attractions, restaurants, and vacation rentals – continued to grow. In efforts to address this growing demand and engagement with these products we have strategically invested in improving the user experience on all devices as well as in building our inventory of global supply of bookable attractions, restaurants, and vacation rentals. In addition to achieving strong supply growth, during 2016 we drove increased mobile engagement and mobile bookings with new mobile ticketing capabilities and mobile push notifications, including in-destination suggestions on the best things to do, helpful tips on the best nearby restaurants, and popular dish recommendations. Continued successful execution of our key growth strategies resulted in 27% revenue growth in this segment in 2016, when compared to the same period in 2015. Increasing traffic to and engagement with our Non-Hotel business, as well as increasing our global supply to offer users more choice are ongoing strategic objectives.

 

36


 

Results of Operations

Selected Financial Data

(in millions, except per share data and percentages)

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2016 vs. 2015

 

 

2015 vs. 2014

 

Revenue

 

$

1,480

 

 

$

1,492

 

 

$

1,246

 

 

 

(1

)%

 

 

20

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue

 

 

71

 

 

 

58

 

 

 

40

 

 

 

22

%

 

 

45

%

Selling and marketing

 

 

756

 

 

 

692

 

 

 

502

 

 

 

9

%

 

 

38

%

Technology and content

 

 

243

 

 

 

207

 

 

 

171

 

 

 

17

%

 

 

21

%

General and administrative

 

 

143

 

 

 

210

 

 

 

128

 

 

 

(32

)%

 

 

64

%

Depreciation

 

 

69

 

 

 

57

 

 

 

47

 

 

 

21

%

 

 

21

%

Amortization of intangible assets

 

 

32

 

 

 

36

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

(11

)%

 

 

100

%

Total costs and expenses

 

 

1,314

 

 

 

1,260

 

 

 

906

 

 

 

4

%

 

 

39

%

Operating income

 

 

166

 

 

 

232

 

 

 

340

 

 

 

(28

)%

 

 

(32

)%

Other income (expense):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest expense

 

 

(12

)

 

 

(10

)

 

 

(9

)

 

 

20

%

 

 

11

%

Interest income and other, net

 

 

(3

)

 

 

17

 

 

 

(9

)

 

 

118

%

 

 

(289

)%

Total other income (expense), net

 

 

(15

)

 

 

7

 

 

 

(18

)

 

 

314

%

 

 

(139

)%

Income before income taxes

 

 

151

 

 

 

239

 

 

 

322

 

 

 

(37

)%

 

 

(26

)%

Provision for income taxes

 

 

(31

)

 

 

(41

)

 

 

(96

)

 

 

(24

)%

 

 

(57

)%

Net income

 

$

120

 

 

$

198

 

 

$

226

 

 

 

(39

)%

 

 

(12

)%

Earnings per share attributable to common

   stockholders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

$

0.83

 

 

$

1.38

 

 

$

1.58

 

 

 

(40

)%

 

 

(13

)%

Diluted

 

$

0.82

 

 

$

1.36

 

 

$

1.55

 

 

 

(40

)%

 

 

(12

)%

Weighted average common shares outstanding:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

145

 

 

 

144

 

 

 

143

 

 

 

1

%

 

 

1

%

Diluted

 

 

147

 

 

 

146

 

 

 

146

 

 

 

1

%

 

 

0

%

Other financial data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusted EBITDA (1)

 

$

352

 

 

$

466

 

 

$

468

 

 

 

(24

)%

 

 

0

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP measure. See “Adjusted EBITDA” discussion below for more information.

 

 

 

37


 

Consolidated Revenue and Segments

 

Revenue and Segment Information

In the first quarter of 2016 we began providing additional disclosure on our revenue sources within our Hotel segment, which are TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue, TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising and subscription revenue, and other hotel revenue. The purpose of this additional disclosure is to provide further understanding of our hotel revenue sources and allow for additional insight into the calculation of one of our key operating performance metrics, revenue per hotel shopper.  In conjunction with providing these additional revenue disclosures, we will no longer provide our historically reported revenue disclosure of click-based advertising, display-based advertising, and subscription, transaction and other revenues. This change had no effect on our consolidated financial statements in any period or with the composition of our operating or reportable segments.

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2016 vs. 2015

 

 

2015 vs. 2014

 

Revenue by Segment:

 

(in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel

 

$

1,190

 

 

$

1,263

 

 

$

1,135

 

 

 

(6

)%

 

 

11

%

Non-Hotel

 

 

290

 

 

 

229

 

 

 

111

 

 

 

27

%

 

 

106

%

Total revenue

 

$

1,480

 

 

$

1,492

 

 

$

1,246

 

 

 

(1

)%

 

 

20

%

Adjusted EBITDA by Segment (1) :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel

 

$

380

 

 

$

472

 

 

$

472

 

 

 

(19

)%

 

 

0

%

Non-Hotel

 

 

(28

)

 

 

(6

)

 

 

(4

)

 

 

(367

)%

 

 

(50

)%

Adjusted EBITDA Margin by Segment (2) :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel

 

 

32

%

 

 

37

%

 

 

42

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-Hotel

 

 

(10

)%

 

 

(3

)%

 

 

(4

)%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

Included in Adjusted EBITDA is a general and administrative expense allocation for each segment, which is based on the segment’s percentage of our total personnel costs, excluding stock-based compensation. See “Note 17  — Segment and Geographic Information ,” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 for more information and for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income, for the periods presented above.

 

(2)

We define “Adjusted EBITDA Margin by Segment”, as Adjusted EBITDA by segment divided by revenue by segment.

Hotel Segment

Our Hotel segment revenue decreased $73 million during the year ended December 31, 2016 when compared to the same period in 2015, primarily due to a $87 million decrease in TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue, which is primarily due to a decline in revenue per hotel shopper of 15%, partially offset by a 6% increase in average unique monthly hotel shoppers, partially offset by growth of $10 million in TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising and subscription revenue, and $4 million in other hotel revenue.  Our Hotel segment revenue increased $128 million during the year ended December 31, 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014, primarily due to a $73 million increase in TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue, which is primarily due to an increase in average unique monthly hotel shoppers of 15% partially offset by a 4% decrease in revenue per hotel shopper, a $39 million increase in TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising and subscription revenue, and $16 million increase in other hotel revenue. See below for discussion of these revenue sources within our Hotel segment.

Adjusted EBITDA in our Hotel segment decreased $92 million during the year ended December 31, 2016 when compared to the same period in 2015, primarily due to a decrease in Hotel segment revenue and increased operating costs, primarily driven by an increase in online traffic acquisition costs, partially offset by lower television advertising costs due to the cessation of our television advertising campaign in 2016. Our Hotel segment adjusted EBITDA margin also decelerated during the year ended December 31, 2016 when compared to the same period in 2015, primarily due to an overall decrease in Hotel segment revenue, and to a lesser extent an increase in operating costs.  Adjusted EBITDA in our Hotel Segment was flat for the year ended December 31, 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014, due to an increase in revenue, offset by increased operating costs, primarily driven by increased personnel and overhead costs, online traffic acquisition costs, and television advertising. Our Hotel

 

38


 

segment adjusted EBITDA margin also decelerated during the year ended December 31, 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014, primarily due to the deceleration in revenue growth year over year.

The following is a detailed discussion of the revenue sources within our Hotel segment:

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2016 vs 2015

 

 

2015 vs 2014

 

Hotel:

 

(in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction

 

$

750

 

 

$

837

 

 

$

764

 

 

 

(10

%)

 

 

10

%

TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising and

   Subscription

 

 

282

 

 

 

272

 

 

 

233

 

 

 

4

%

 

 

17

%

Other hotel revenue

 

 

158

 

 

 

154

 

 

 

138

 

 

 

3

%

 

 

12

%

Total Hotel revenue

 

$

1,190

 

 

$

1,263

 

 

$

1,135

 

 

 

(6

%)

 

 

11

%

 

TripAdvisor-branded Click-based and Transaction Revenue

TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue includes click-based advertising revenue (or revenue derived from our metasearch auction) from our TripAdvisor-branded websites and revenue from our transaction-based instant booking feature. For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, 63%, 66% and 67%, respectively, of our total Hotel segment revenue was derived from our TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue.  TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue decreased $87 million during the year ended December 31, 2016, when compared to the same period in 2015, primarily due to a decline of 15% in revenue per hotel shopper, offset by an increase in average monthly unique hotel shoppers of 6% during the year ended December 31, 2016. TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue increased $73 million during the year ended December 31, 2015, when compared to the same period in 2014, primarily due to an increase in average monthly unique hotel shoppers of 15%, offset by a decline of 4% in revenue per hotel shopper during the year ended December 31, 2015.

Our largest source of Hotel segment revenue is click-based advertising revenue from our TripAdvisor-branded websites, which includes links to our partners’ sites and contextually-relevant branded and related text links. Click-based advertising is generated primarily through our metasearch auction, a description of which follows.  Our click-based advertising partners are predominantly OTAs, and direct suppliers in the hotel product category. Click-based advertising is generally priced on a cost-per-click, or “CPC”, basis, with payments from advertisers based on the number of users who click on each type of link, or in other words a conversion of a hotel shopper to a paid click. CPC is the price that partners are willing to pay for a hotel shopper lead, and is determined in a competitive process that enables our partners to use our proprietary, automated bidding system to submit CPC bids to have their rates and availability listed on our site.  This process is called our metasearch auction. When a partner submits a CPC bid, they are agreeing to pay the amount of that bid each time a user subsequently clicks on the link to the partner’s website. Bids can be submitted periodically – as often as daily– on a property-by-property basis. The size of the bid relative to other bids received is the primary factor used to determine the placement of partner links on our site, including on hotel comparison search results and on property detail pages. CPCs are generally lower in markets outside the U.S., than in the U.S. market, and, in addition, hotel shoppers visiting via mobile phones currently monetize at a significantly lower rate than hotel shoppers visiting via desktop or tablet.

Our transaction revenue is comprised of revenue from our instant booking feature, which enables the merchant of record, generally an OTA or hotel partner, to pay a commission to TripAdvisor for a user that completes a hotel reservation on our website.  Instant booking revenue is currently recognized under two different models: the transaction model and the consumption model. Our transaction model commission revenue is recorded at the time a traveler books a hotel reservation on our site with one of our transaction partners. Our transaction partners are liable for commission payments to us upon booking and the partner assumes the cancellation risk.  When a traveler makes a hotel reservation on our site with one of our consumption partners, which comprises the majority of our instant booking revenue, revenue is not recorded until the traveler completes the stay as our consumption partners are liable for commission payment only upon the completion of stay by the traveler.  OTA and hotel partner placement, as well as comparative hotel prices available to the traveler in the booking process under both models, are determined

 

39


 

by a bidding process within our proprietary automated bidding system, based on a number of variables, primarily hotel room prices, but also including other factors, such as conversion rates and commission rates, depending on the specific hotel selected. Instant booking commissions are primarily a function of average gross booking value generated from hotel reservations, cancellation rates experienced, and commission rates negotiated with each of our partners.

The key drivers of TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue include the growth in average monthly unique hotel shoppers and, in particular, revenue per hotel shopper, which measures how effectively we convert our hotel shoppers into revenue. We measure performance by calculating revenue per hotel shopper on an aggregate basis, dividing total TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue by total average monthly unique hotel shoppers on TripAdvisor-branded websites for the periods presented.

While we believe total traffic growth, or growth in monthly visits from unique visitors, is reflective of our overall brand growth, we also track and analyze sub-segments of our traffic and their correlation to revenue generation and utilize data regarding hotel shoppers as a key indicator of revenue growth. Hotel shoppers are visitors who view either a listing of hotels in a city or a specific hotel page. The number of hotel shoppers tends to vary based on seasonality of the travel industry and general economic conditions, as well as other factors outside of our control. Given these factors, as well as the trend towards increased usage on mobile phones and international expansion, quarterly and annual hotel shopper growth is a difficult metric to forecast.  

Our aggregate average monthly unique hotel shoppers on TripAdvisor-branded websites increased by 6% and 15%, respectively, for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, when compared to the same periods in 2015 and 2014, according to our log files.  The increase in hotel shoppers for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, was primarily due to growth in our paid online marketing channels as well as the general trend of an increasing number of hotel shoppers visiting our websites and apps on mobile phones, which has grown significantly faster than traffic from desktop and tablet devices during these periods.  Our average monthly unique hotel shopper growth rate decelerated during the year ended December 31, 2016, when compared to the same period in 2015, due to the dilutive effects from the global launch of our instant booking product feature, which impacted 2016 to a greater extent than 2015 due to the timing of the staged rollout, increased competition, macroeconomic and geopolitical factors, including foreign currency and a number of terrorism events, among other factors.  While increasing the absolute number of hotel shoppers on our sites remains a top strategic priority, our ability to grow through paid traffic channels has been negatively impacted by lower revenue per hotel shopper.

The below table summarizes our revenue per hotel shopper calculation and growth rate, in aggregate, for the periods presented:

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2016 vs 2015

 

 

2015 vs 2014

 

 

 

(in millions)