Tripadvisor Launches Service That It Says Offers Bigger Discounts on Hotels, Flights

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  • Tripadvisor launched Tripadvisor Plus, a travel subscription service that will cost $99 a year.
  • Customers who sign up will receive discounts on hotels and other services and a year of Hertz Five Star elite status.
  • The service comes as many consumers are starting to travel again and prices for travel are starting to rise.

As more Americans receive vaccine shots and states lift Covid-19 restrictions, Tripadvisor announced Wednesday the launch of Tripadvisor Plus, a travel subscription service that will provide U.S. customers with access to savings and other perks. The service is priced at $99 a year.

U.S. airlines have already seen an increase in flight bookings for the summer, and the Transportation Security Administration recently screened more than 2 million people at U.S. airports, the most since the Covid pandemic began early last year.

The resurging travel demand is also resulting in higher fares. Tripadvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer attributed the trend to the industry's struggle to hire workers fast enough to keep up with the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

"There is a little bit of a mismatch in supply and demand as the hotel industry gets back on its feet, trying to hire more people to deliver that great experience that hotels and the travel community is so known for," Kaufer said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Travelers should also expect that service throughout the industry may not be as great as usual and there are likely to be long waits, especially at airports, Kaufer said.

"Pack a little patience on your vacation, the lines are going to be a bit longer at airports, I worry," he said. "Some of the service at some of the properties isn't quite up to the levels of expectations but really the whole industry is rebounding."

The company has seen an increase in travel bookings abroad, but travelers are holding off on reserving trips to countries where there is still uncertainty over travel restrictions. Tripadvisor anticipates that when these countries ease Covid restrictions for vaccinated Americans, there will be a rise in bookings, Kaufer said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and the number of new daily coronvirus infections is on the decline.

In a recent survey commissioned by data provider Cirium, 78% of respondents said they will travel this year, with about 40% planning trips this summer. The survey polled 2,140 adults from May 11 through May 17.

Tripadvisor's new subscription service includes discounts on many tickets, tours and attractions, and personalized travel advice as well as discounted stays at more than 100,000 hotels around the world, the company said. The company said it estimates the service will save members an average of $350 per stay, which means some members will be able to recoup their annual fee on their first trip.

Customers who sign up for the service will also receive a year of Hertz Five Star elite status, which will allow them to skip the counter, earn points toward free rentals, access upgrades and receive priority service at many airports. The subscription will also waive the young renter fee and provide subscribers with free child carseat rentals.

Subscription services have been popular with companies as a way to build loyalty and drive business. The hope is that once website visitors sign up for the service, they will likely use Tripadvisor more frequently to book their travel.

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