Mumbai: TripAdvisor, the American travel website company, will no longer be a platform that provides travel-related content such as reviews on hotels, resorts, flights, vacation rentals and travel guides. It will also allow instant booking for hotels to nine English-speaking countries, including India, said the firm’s India head Nikhil Ganju.

The other countries are Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and South Africa. Instant booking facility on the platform is already available in the US and the UK, and a global rollout is likely in the first half of 2016.

Such a move will help travellers in these markets book on all of TripAdvisor platforms—desktop or mobile. Currently, TripAdvisor earns revenue largely from pay-per-click advertising. Now, it will start getting commissions too.

Stiff competition from online travel agents and the disruptive travel start-ups have forced the world’s largest travel portal to turn itself into a site that can help in direct hotel booking and offer reviews. TripAdvisor is competing with online travel agencies (OTAs), like Clear-trip, Makemytrip Inc. and Yatra.com, while meta-search engines such as ixigo.com are wooing travellers with reviews and bookings.

The firm’s tagline too has changed. It used to be “enabling travellers to plan the perfect trip" but now says “enabling travellers to plan and book the perfect trip".

“We’re excited to help even more travellers around the world conveniently plan and book the perfect trip on our site as we roll-out instant booking to more global markets," said Stephen Kaufer, president and chief executive officer of TripAdvisor. “The momentum we’re building is remarkable and we look forward to continuing our expansion throughout 2016 with the help of our trusted partners."

Ganju said TripAdvisor will not just allow customers to compare prices, but will also allow booking through its hotel and online travel agency partners without leaving the TripAdvisor site. Hotels available for instant booking have a “book" button and users that click this button can complete their reservation on TripAdvisor, with the transaction and customer care provided by the partner.

Chetan Kapoor, the Asia-Pacific research analyst at consultancy Phocuswright Inc., said the instant booking will face competition from online travel agents who often offer discounted deals. “Instant booking will take off in India if it matches the prices offered by online travel agents despite TripAdvisor being a formidable firm in travel," Kapoor said.

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