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TripAdvisor's Apps Are Building Traffic And Revenue

Five years ago, most people were clueless on what the term apps, short for applications, meant. Now apps are everywhere and consumers with smartphones and tablets can't seem to get enough of them. Finding ways to turn apps into revenue is now the challenge for business.

At Newton, Mass.-based TripAdvisor (TRIP), users downloaded 45 million apps monthly during the quarter ended in December, a 190% jump from the prior year. Its apps include TripAdvisor, replete with millions of reviews of hotels and eateries, City Guide, describing 82 global destinations, and SeatGuru, which offers color-coded seating maps for plane flights.

Apps are playing a pivotal role in a company's marketing. Nonetheless, heavy-handed selling via apps irks consumers and can backfire.

At TripAdvisor, its website and social media are now intertwined. When consumers log on to it on Facebook (FB), it lists all of the subscriber's Facebook friends that use TripAdvisor. So consumers traveling to Paris or London can check with friends for advice on overseas hotels or restaurants.

"Apps and mobile are critical. Increasingly, we talk about how phone and tablets are separate but complementary devices," said Adam Medros, TripAdvisor's vice president of global product.

After the iPhone was released, TripAdvisor attracted 1 million people trying to access its site on their tiny phone screens. "We started investing in apps, building an optimized website for phones," Medros said...