TripAdvisor sees opportunities in going deep on mobile

The challenge for many web companies looking to go mobile is how to replicate features found on their desktop sites while still taking advantage of mobile’s unique traits. TripAdvisor has found a happy medium, building a hybrid TripAdvisor app that combines web data with a native wrapper while focusing completely on native mobile development with its City Guides app.

Adam Medros, VP of Global Product, TripAdvisor spoke at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference Thursday and said the company’s primary app reproduces many of the main features of the desktop service and was easier for them to create. But the app is also less responsive than a dedicated native app.

But with its TripAdvisor City Guides apps, which covers 50 cities and provides downloadable data, TripAdvisor has the ability to provide a true mobile-first experience that has both a lot of features and is snappy, he said. That has translated into a lot more engagement. Users of the City Guides app click through 50 pages on average per session, compared to about 30 for the main app. The City Guides app uses a lot of dedicated mobile features such as guided tours, a nearby business finder and a Point Me There tool that acts like a walking turn-by-turn navigation service.

Medros said while TripAdvisor first looked at duplicating its desktop site with its primary mobile app, the focus now is on how to add unique tools aren’t possible anywhere but on a mobile device.

He said he’s looking at more ways for users to record their travels in journals, which can be shared with others. And Medros sees opportunities in helping travelers get real-time recommendations from friends and strangers while on a trip. The company is also looking at connecting to more services, perhaps something like Uber for transportation; providing offers for check-ins or adding payments inside the TripAdvisor apps.

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2012 coverage here, and the live stream can be found here.