Restaurant deal highlights TripAdvisor’s new tack

Contact: Scott Denne

Following a short break to digest its largest-ever acquisition, TripAdvisor gets back to the deal table early in the year with the purchase of Amsterdam-based restaurant review and reservation site IENS. The move illustrates that TripAdvisor is poised to continue rolling up travel businesses, but with a new approach.

As we noted earlier , TripAdvisor has ramped up its dealmaking of late, although inking larger transactions isn’t the only change in its M&A approach. As the IENS buy shows, TripAdvisor is shifting its M&A beyond its core business of travel accommodation reviews and bookings. The company’s $200m takeout of Viator in July – it’s most recent deal until today’s announcement – expanded its presence in sightseeing, particularly booking tickets for attractions. Likewise, the transaction before that, the pickup of France-based restaurant reservation provider lafourchette (like today’s IENS purchase) got it deeper into restaurants, particularly booking reservations.

Before these three deals, almost all of TripAdvisor’s 21 acquisitions were done to expand the content and reach of its hotel review business. There’s also another nuance to its recent transactions. TripAdvisor has been steadily moving beyond ‘advising’ travelers and into booking. When it bought Viator, it was already providing reviews of tourist attractions; and when it reached for lafourchette, it had a long history in the restaurant review space. That’s a trend reflected in TripAdvisor’s own product development, as it expanded into hotel metasearch in recent years and launched a direct booking feature on its site at the end of last year.

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Posted in M&A