10-K 1 trip-10k_20181231.htm 10-K trip-10k_20181231.htm

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

Form 10-K

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from          to          

Commission file number: 001-35362

 

TRIPADVISOR, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

80-0743202

(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

400 1st Avenue

Needham, MA 02494

(Address of principal executive office) (Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code:

(781) 800-5000

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class:

 

Name of each exchange on which registered:

Common Stock, $0.001 par value

 

The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. 

 

Large accelerated filer

 

 

Accelerated filer

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

 

Smaller reporting company

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    Yes      No  

The aggregate market value of the common stock of the registrant held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter was $5,775,119,721 based on the closing price on The NASDAQ Global Select Market on such date. For the purpose of the foregoing calculation only, all directors and executive officers of the registrant are assumed to be affiliates of the registrant.

 

Class

  

Outstanding Shares at February 14, 2019

Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share

  

125,336,213 shares

Class B common stock, $0.001 par value per share

  

12,799,999 shares

 

Documents Incorporated by Reference

The registrant intends to file a proxy statement pursuant to Regulation 14A not later than 120 days after the close of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018. Portions of such proxy statement are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Table of Contents

 

 

  

 

 

Page

PART I

 

2

 

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

2

 

 

 

Item 1A.

  

Risk Factors

 

10

 

 

 

Item 1B.

  

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

33

 

 

 

Item 2.

  

Properties

 

33

 

 

 

Item 3.

  

Legal Proceedings

 

33

 

 

 

Item 4.

  

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

33

 

 

PART II

 

33

 

 

 

Item 5.

  

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

33

 

 

 

Item 6.

  

Selected Financial Data

 

36

 

 

 

Item 7.

  

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

37

 

 

 

Item 7A.

  

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

61

 

 

 

Item 8.

  

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

63

 

 

 

Item 9.

  

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

116

 

 

 

Item 9A.

  

Controls and Procedures

 

116

 

 

 

Item 9B.

  

Other Information

 

120

 

 

PART III

 

120

 

 

 

Item 10.

  

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

120

 

 

 

Item 11.

  

Executive Compensation

 

120

 

 

 

Item 12.

  

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

120

 

 

 

Item 13.

  

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

120

 

 

 

Item 14.

  

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

120

 

 

PART IV

 

120

 

 

 

Item 15.

  

Exhibits; Financial Statement Schedules

 

120

Item 16.

  

Form 10-K Summary

 

123

 

 

SIGNATURES

 

124

 

 

 

 

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We refer to TripAdvisor, Inc. and our wholly-owned subsidiaries as “TripAdvisor,” “the Company,” “us,” “we” and “our” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove incorrect, could cause our results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. The statements contained in this Annual Report that are not purely historical are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act. The following words, when used, are intended to identify forward-looking statements: “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “project,” “result” “should,” “will,” and similar expressions which do not relate solely to historical matters. We caution investors that any forward-looking statements in this report, or which management may make orally or in writing from time to time, are based on management’s beliefs and on assumptions made by, and information currently available to, management. Such statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions and are not guarantees of future performance, which may be affected by known and unknown risks, trends, uncertainties and factors that are beyond our control. Some of the risks and uncertainties that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements are more fully described in Part I. Item 1A. "Risk Factors". Moreover, we operate in a rapidly changing environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for management to predict all such risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all such risk factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. We caution you that, while forward-looking statements reflect our good faith beliefs when we make them, they are not guarantees of future performance and are impacted by actual events when they occur after we make such statements. We expressly disclaim any responsibility to update our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Investors should also refer to our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q for future periods and current reports on Form 8-K as we file them with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, and to other materials we may furnish to the public from time to time through Current Reports on Form 8-K or otherwise.

 

 

 

 

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PART I

 

Item 1.

Business

Overview

TripAdvisor is an online travel company and our mission is to help people around the world to plan, book and experience the perfect trip. We seek to achieve our mission by providing consumers and travel partners a global platform with rich consumer-generated content, price comparison tools and online reservation and related services for destinations, accommodations, travel activities and experiences, and restaurants.

TripAdvisor, Inc., by and through its subsidiaries, owns and operates a portfolio of leading online travel brands. Our flagship brand, TripAdvisor, is the world’s largest travel site based on monthly unique visitors, which reached 490 million average monthly unique visitors during our seasonal peak during the year ended December 31, 2018, according to our internal log files.

Our TripAdvisor-branded websites include www.tripadvisor.com in the United States and localized versions of the TripAdvisor website in 48 markets and 28 languages worldwide. TripAdvisor features approximately 730 million reviews and opinions on approximately 8.1 million places to stay, places to eat and things to do – including 1.3 million hotels, inns, B&Bs and specialty lodging, 875,000 rental properties, 4.9 million restaurants and 1.0 million travel activities and experiences worldwide. We also enable consumers to compare prices and/or book a number of these travel experiences on either a TripAdvisor website or mobile application (“app”), or on the website or mobile app of one of our travel partners.

In addition to the flagship TripAdvisor brand, we manage and operate the following other travel media brands, connected by the common goal of providing consumers the most comprehensive travel-planning and trip-taking resources in the travel industry: www.airfarewatchdog.com, www.bokun.io, www.bookingbuddy.com, www.cruisecritic.com, www.familyvacationcritic.com, www.flipkey.com, www.thefork.com (including www.lafourchette.com, www.eltenedor.com, and www.iens.nl), www.holidaylettings.co.uk, www.holidaywatchdog.com, www.housetrip.com, www.jetsetter.com, www.niumba.com, www.onetime.com, www.oyster.com, www.seatguru.com, www.smartertravel.com, www.tingo.com, www.vacationhomerentals.com, and www.viator.com.

Our Industry and Market Opportunity

We operate in the global travel industry, focusing exclusively on online travel and travel-related activity, and the online advertising market.

Phocuswright, an independent travel, tourism and hospitality research firm, estimates the annual global travel market at $1.7 trillion. Phocuswright also estimates online penetration of global travel bookings to be less than 50%. However, travel bookings have been moving online as consumers gain access to the internet and global tourism activity continues to increase, driven by middle class and economic growth. TripAdvisor, as an internet-enabled travel-focused business, allows consumers to research travel activity and share their experiences and opinions with a global audience. As consumer online travel media consumption and online travel commerce activity increases, we believe travel and travel-related businesses will continue to allocate greater percentages of their marketing budgets to online channels in order to grow their businesses. We believe this creates a significant long-term growth opportunity for our business.

Our Business Model

Our businesses match demand, or consumers that seek to discover, research, price compare and book the best travel experiences online with supply from travel partners around the world that provide travel accommodations and experiences.

Consumer Offerings

TripAdvisor enables consumers to plan, book and experience the perfect trip by providing content, supply, price, and convenience. Content and supply has enabled TripAdvisor to become a well-known global brand, one that has attracted the world’s largest travel audience, based on average monthly unique visitors, and influences a

 

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significant amount of travel commerce. We are focused on creating the best online experience in travel planning and booking, making it easier for consumers to research destinations and experiences, read and contribute user-generated content, compare destinations and businesses based on quality, price and availability, and complete bookings powered by our travel partners.

Travel Partners

Our portfolio of travel-related websites enables our travel partners to be discovered, to advertise and to sell their services to a global travel audience. Travel partners may include hotel chains, independent hoteliers, online travel agencies, or OTAs, destination marketing organizations, and other travel-related and non-travel related product and service providers—who seek to market and sell their products and services to a global audience. We enable media advertising opportunities – and in some cases, facilitate transactions between consumers and travel partners in a number of ways, including by sending referrals to our travel partners’ websites, facilitating bookings on behalf of our travel partners, by serving as the merchant of record – particularly in our Experiences and Rentals offerings – and by offering advertising placements on our websites and mobile apps.

Segments and Products

We manage our business in two reportable segments: Hotel and Non-Hotel. Our Non-Hotel reportable segment consists of our Experiences, Restaurants and Rentals offerings. During the first quarter of 2018, we renamed Attractions as “Experiences” and Vacation Rentals as “Rentals.” These changes had no impact on the composition of our segments or on any financial information. These segments have been determined based on how the chief operating decision maker regularly assesses information and evaluates performance for operating decision-making purposes, including allocation of resources. Financial information and additional descriptive information related to our segments is contained in “Note 18: Segment and Geographic Information” and “Note 4: Revenue Recognition,” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

The Hotel segment accounted for 72%, 77%, and 80%, of our consolidated revenue in the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively, and includes revenue generated from the following sources:

 

TripAdvisor-branded Click-based and Transaction Revenue. Our largest source of Hotel segment revenue is generated from click-based advertising on TripAdvisor-branded websites, which is primarily comprised of contextually-relevant links to our travel partners’ sites. Our click-based travel partners are predominantly OTAs and direct suppliers in the hotel category. Click-based advertising is generally priced on a cost-per-click, or “CPC” basis, with payments from travel partners determined by the number of travelers who click on a link multiplied by the CPC rate for each specific click. CPC rates that our travel partners pay are determined in a dynamic, competitive auction process, also known as our metasearch auction. Transaction revenue is generated from our hotel instant booking feature, which enables hotel shoppers to book directly on TripAdvisor through a travel partner, with the latter serving as the merchant of record for the transaction. We earn a pre-determined commission rate from our travel partners for each consumer that completes a hotel reservation on our website or app.

 

TripAdvisor-branded Display-based Advertising and Subscription Revenue. Travel partners can promote their brands in a contextually-relevant manner through a variety of display-based advertising placements on our websites. Our display-based advertising clients are predominantly direct suppliers of hotels, air travel and cruises, as well as destination marketing organizations. Other display clients include OTAs and other travel-related businesses, as well as advertisers from non-travel categories. Display-based advertising is sold predominantly on a cost per thousand impressions, or CPM, basis. We also offer subscription-based advertising to hoteliers, owners of B&Bs and other specialty lodging properties, enabling subscribers to advertise their businesses on our website, as well as manage and promote their website URL, email address, phone number, special offers and other information related to their business. Subscription advertising services are predominantly sold for a flat fee for a contracted period of time of one year or less.

 

Other Hotel Revenue. Our other Hotel revenue primarily includes revenue from non-TripAdvisor-branded websites, such as www.bookingbuddy.com, www.cruisecritic.com, www.onetime.com, and

 

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www.smartertravel.com, which primarily includes click-based advertising and display-based advertising revenue sources, as described above.

Non-Hotel offerings – Experiences, Restaurants and Rentals – have comprised an increasing percentage of consumer demand and consolidated revenue. Our Non-Hotel reportable segment accounted for 28%, 23%, and 20% of our consolidated revenue in the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively, and includes revenue generated from the following sources:

 

Experiences. We provide information and services for consumers to research, book and travel activities and experiences in popular travel destinations both through Viator, our dedicated Experiences offering, and on our TripAdvisor website and app. We also power travel activities and experience booking capabilities to consumers on affiliate partner websites, including some of the world’s top airlines, hotel chains and online and offline travel agencies. We work with local tour or travel activities/experiences operators (the “supplier”) to provide consumers with access to tours, activities and experiences (the “activity”) in popular destinations worldwide. We generate commissions for each booking transaction we facilitate through our online reservation system. To a lesser extent, we earn commissions from third-party merchant partners, which display and promote our supplier activities on their websites to generate bookings.

 

Restaurants. We provide information and services for consumers to research and book restaurants in popular travel destinations through our dedicated restaurant reservations offering, TheFork, and on our TripAdvisor websites and mobile apps. TheFork is an online restaurant booking platform operating on a number of websites (including www.lafourchette.com, www.eltenedor.com, and www.iens.nl), with a network of restaurant partners located primarily across Europe and Australia. Our bookable restaurants are available on www.thefork.com and on TripAdvisor-branded websites and mobile apps. We primarily generate transaction fees (or per seated diner fees) that are paid by restaurants for diners seated primarily from bookings through TheFork’s online reservation system. To a lesser extent, we also generate subscription fees for subscription-based advertising to restaurants, access to certain online reservation management services and marketing analytic tools provided by TheFork and TripAdvisor.

 

Rentals. We provide information and services for consumers to research and book vacation and short-term rental properties, including full home rentals, condominiums, villas, beach rentals, cabins and cottages. Our Rentals offering generates revenue primarily by offering individual property owners and managers the ability to list their properties on our websites and mobile apps thereby connecting homeowners with travelers through a free-to-list, commission-based option or, to a lesser extent, by an annual subscription-based fee structure. These properties are listed on www.flipkey.com, www.holidaylettings.co.uk, www.housetrip.com, www.niumba.com, www.vacationhomerentals.com, and on our TripAdvisor-branded websites and mobile apps.

Seasonality

Traveler expenditures in the global travel market tend to follow a seasonal pattern. As such, advertising investments made by travel partners to market to potential travelers and, therefore, our revenue and profits tend to be seasonal as well. Our financial performance tends to be seasonally highest in the second and third quarters of a year, as it is a key period for leisure travel research and trip-taking, which includes the seasonal peak in traveler hotel and rental stays, and travel activities and experiences taken, compared to the first and fourth quarters which represent seasonal low points. Further significant shifts in our business mix or adverse economic conditions could result in future seasonal patterns that are different from historical trends.

Our Long-Term Growth Strategy

Our mission is to help people around the world plan, book and experience the perfect trip. We seek to deliver on this mission by: increasing and leveraging our rich, user-generated content and global brand to attract consumers to our websites and mobile apps; delivering the best consumer experience throughout all phases of the travel journey from inspiration and travel-planning to trip-taking and sharing the experience; deepening our relationships with travel partners by providing them an array of advertising opportunities to generate qualified leads, or hotel shoppers

 

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we pass along to travel partners; and investing in technology, product development, marketing and other strategic areas that we believe can improve the TripAdvisor experience and improve our long-term business prospects.

 

Drive consumer engagement with our platform. TripAdvisor is a globally-recognized travel brand built on travel reviews and travel research. A large, global travel audience leverages TripAdvisor’s rich content to discover, plan, and book travel experiences. We seek to further amplify our global brand by raising consumer awareness for – and engagement with – our end-to-end product offerings, such as the ability to seamlessly research, price compare, book and share travel experiences on our platform. We believe building deeper, more durable consumer relationships can attract more consumers more frequently to our products, either directly to our websites and mobile apps or through various online and offline marketing channels, and that these consumers will then become qualified leads that we can provide to our partners. These channels include search engines through search engine optimization, or SEO, and search engine marketing, or SEM, retargeting and television, or brand advertising.

 

Deliver the best consumer experience possible on our platform. We believe delivering consumers a more holistic, end-to-end product experience is critically important for the long-term health of our business. We have invested – and will continue to invest – in product enhancements that ensure TripAdvisor gives consumers an assistive experience throughout all phases of the travel journey – from inspiration and discovery, to researching, price shopping and booking, to finding and booking things to do and places to eat, to sharing.

 

Deepen relationships with our travel partners. Our large, global audience makes it an attractive platform for listing and advertising opportunities that helps generate impressions, brand awareness, qualified leads and bookings for travel partners. We believe that growing the number of listings and bookable supply, especially in our in-destination Experiences and Restaurants offerings, enables consumers not only to find and book the perfect trip, but also enables partners to drive transactions for their business. We also provide business-to-business services – including subscription-based advertising services, such as TripAdvisor’s Business Advantage for hoteliers and Premium for Restaurants, which are advertising opportunities and marketing analytics tools – that are designed to help our partners attract customers, more effectively manage their presence on TripAdvisor, and grow their business.

 

Invest in technology and product. We prioritize rapid product-testing and speed to market as we seek to deliver consumers a richer experience. We launch new product features on our websites and mobile apps on a regular product release cycle. Also, during the year ended December 31, 2018, more than half of our average monthly unique visitors came from mobile phones, according to our log files. We have invested – and will continue to invest – to improve the features, functionality, consumer engagement, and commercialization of our offerings on all devices to meet, and hopefully, exceed, evolving consumer needs and expectations.

Marketing and Competition

We compete in a large, dynamic and competitive global travel industry. We face competition for content, consumers, and advertisers from other online travel and price comparison services (known in the industry as “metasearch”), as well as OTAs. In order to favorably attract consumers to our websites and mobile apps, we invest to amplify our global brand and raise consumer awareness of, and engagement with, our end-to-end product offerings. We invest through various marketing channels, including domain direct and various online and offline marketing channels, including online search engines (primarily Google), social media, emails and in more recent years, through television brand advertising. The relative success of our marketing strategy can be influenced by changes that we, our partners, or our competitors make to our respective products and marketing strategies. During 2018, our total advertising expense was approximately $544 million, primarily driven by investments in online search engines, and to a lesser extent, investments in offline marketing channels, which was primarily television advertising. We intend to continue to promote brand awareness through both online and offline advertising efforts.

We compete with different types of companies in the various markets and geographies in which we operate, including large and small companies in the travel space as well as broader service providers. More specifically:

 

In our Hotel segment, we face competition from, and in some cases partner with, the following businesses: OTAs (including Expedia Group, Inc., or Expedia, and Booking Holdings Inc., or Booking,

 

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and many of their respective subsidiaries and operating companies); hotel metasearch providers (including trivago, a subsidiary of Expedia, Kayak and HotelsCombined, subsidiaries of Booking, and Ctrip.com International, Ltd); large online search, social media, and marketplace platforms and companies (including Google, Facebook, Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Alibaba, and Amazon); and traditional offline travel agencies; and global hotel chains seeking to promote direct bookings.

 

In our Non-Hotel segment, Experiences competes with online travel agencies, such as Airbnb, Booking, and GetYourGuide; traditional travel agencies; online travel service providers; and wholesalers, among others. Our Restaurants offering competes with other online restaurant reservation services, such as SeatMe (owned by Yelp) and OpenTable (a subsidiary of Booking), and local or regional providers. Our Rentals offering competes with companies focused on alternative lodging and shared accommodations and online accommodation searches, including Airbnb, HomeAway (a subsidiary of Expedia) and Booking.com (a subsidiary of Booking).

As the industry continues to shift towards online travel services and the technology supporting it continues to evolve, we anticipate that the existing competitive landscape will continue to change, new competitors may emerge, and industry consolidation may continue.

Commercial Relationships

We have a number of commercial relationships that are important to the success of our business. Although these relationships are memorialized in agreements, many of these agreements are for limited terms or are terminable at will or on short notice. As a result, we seek to ensure the mutual success of these relationships.

We have commercial relationships with the majority of the world’s leading OTAs, as well as a variety of other travel partners pursuant to which these companies primarily purchase traveler leads from us, generally on a click-based advertising basis. For the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 our two most significant travel partners were Expedia (and its subsidiaries) and Booking (and its subsidiaries), each of which accounted for more than 10% of our consolidated revenue and together accounted for approximately 37%, 43% and 46% of our consolidated revenue, respectively. Nearly all of this concentration of revenue is recorded in our Hotel segment for these reporting periods.

Operations and Technology

We have assembled a team of highly skilled software engineers, computer scientists, data scientists, network engineers and systems engineers whose expertise spans a broad range of technical areas, including a wide variety of open source operating systems, databases, languages, analytics, networking, scalable web architecture, operations and warehousing technologies. We make significant investments in product and feature development, data management, personalization technologies, scalable infrastructures, networking, data warehousing, and search engine technologies.

Our systems infrastructure and web and database servers for TripAdvisor-branded websites are housed at two geographically separate facilities and have multiple communication links as well as continuous monitoring and engineering support. Each facility is fully self-sufficient and operational with its own hardware, networking, software and content, and is structured in an active/passive, fully redundant configuration. Substantially all of our software components, data, and content are replicated in multiple datacenters and development centers, as well as being backed up at offsite locations. Our systems are monitored and protected though multiple layers of security. Several of our individual subsidiaries and businesses, including Viator, have their own data infrastructure and technology teams.

Intellectual Property

Our intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, domain names, trade dress, proprietary technology and trade secrets, is an important component of our business. We rely on our intellectual property rights in our content, proprietary technology, software code, ratings indexes, databases of reviews and forum content. We

 

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have acquired some of our intellectual property rights through licenses and content agreements with third parties and these arrangements may place restrictions on the use of our intellectual property.

We protect our intellectual property by relying on our terms of use, confidentiality agreements and contractual provisions, as well as on international, national, federal, state and common law rights. We protect our brands by pursuing the trademark registration of our core brands, as appropriate, maintaining our trademark portfolio, securing contractual trademark rights protection when appropriate, and relying on common law trademark rights when appropriate. We also register copyrights and domain names as deemed appropriate. Additionally, we protect our trademarks, domain names and copyrights with the use of intellectual property licenses and an enforcement program.

We have considered, and will continue to consider, the appropriateness of filing for patents to protect future inventions, as circumstances may warrant. However, many patents protect only specific inventions and there can be no assurance that others may not create new products or methods that achieve similar results without infringing upon patents owned by us.

In connection with our copyrightable content, we post and institute procedures under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act and similar “host privilege” statutes worldwide to gain immunity from copyright liability for photographs, text and other content loaded on our sites by users.  However, differences between statutes, limitations on immunity, and moderation efforts in the many jurisdictions in which we operate may affect our ability to claim immunity.  

From time to time, we may be subject to legal proceedings and claims in the ordinary course of our business, including claims of alleged infringement by us of the trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual property rights of third parties.  In addition, litigation may be necessary in the future to enforce our intellectual property rights, protect our trade secrets or determine the validity and scope of proprietary rights claimed by others.  Any such litigation, regardless of outcome or merit, could result in substantial costs and diversion of management and technical resources, any of which could materially harm our business.  

Regulation

We are subject to a number of laws and regulations that affect companies conducting business on the internet and relating to the travel industry, the vacation rental industry and the provision of travel services.  As we continue to expand the reach of our brands into additional international markets, we are increasingly subject to additional laws and regulations.  This includes laws and regulations regarding, among other matters, consumer privacy, libel, rights of publicity, data protection, content, intellectual property, distribution, electronic contracts and other communications, consumer protection, taxation, online payment services, competition and protection of minors. These laws and regulations are constantly evolving and can be subject to significant change. Many of these laws and regulations are being tested in courts, and could be interpreted by regulators and courts in ways that could harm our business. In addition, the application and interpretation of these laws and regulations is often uncertain, particularly in the new and rapidly-evolving industry in which we operate.

In addition, we provide advertising data and information and conduct marketing activities that are subject to consumer protection laws that regulate unfair and deceptive practices, domestically and internationally, including, in some countries, pricing display requirements, licensing and registration requirements and industry specific value-added tax regimes. The United States and European Union have adopted legislation that regulates certain aspects of the internet, including online editorial and user-generated content, data privacy, behavioral targeting and online advertising, taxation, and liability for third-party activities. It is impossible to accurately predict how this new legislation will be interpreted and applied or whether new taxes or regulations will be imposed on our services, and whether or how we might be affected. Increased regulation of the internet could increase the cost of doing business or otherwise materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or operational results.

 

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We are subject to laws that require protection of user privacy and user data.  As our business has evolved, we have begun to receive and store a greater volume of personally identifiable data.  This data is increasingly subject to laws and regulations in numerous jurisdictions around the world.  For example, the European Union, in May 2018, adopted the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which requires companies, including ours, to meet enhanced requirements regarding the handling of personal data. The enactment, interpretation and application of this law is still in a state of flux, and the interpretation and application of GDPR may vary from country to country.   In addition, similar laws are currently under discussion in other jurisdictions.

Also, on June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom passed a referendum to exit the European Union, known as Brexit.  Since the terms of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union are uncertain, we are unable to predict the effect Brexit will have on our business and results of operations; however, we will likely face new regulatory costs and challenges if the U.K. regulations diverge from those of the European Union. 

Corporate History, Equity Ownership and Voting Control

TripAdvisor was co-founded in February 2000 by Stephen Kaufer, our current Chief Executive Officer and President. In April 2004, TripAdvisor was acquired by IAC/InterActiveCorp, or IAC. In August 2005, IAC spun-off its portfolio of travel brands, including TripAdvisor, into Expedia, at the time a separate newly-formed Delaware corporation. On December 20, 2011 Expedia completed a spin-off of TripAdvisor into a separate publicly-traded Delaware corporation. We refer to this second spin-off transaction as the “Spin-Off.” Following the Spin-Off, on December 21, 2011, TripAdvisor began trading on The NASDAQ Global Select Market, or NASDAQ, as an independent public company under the trading symbol “TRIP.”

On December 11, 2012, Liberty Interactive Corporation, or Liberty, purchased an aggregate of approximately 4.8 million shares of common stock of TripAdvisor from Barry Diller, our former Chairman of the Board of Directors and Senior Executive, and certain of his affiliates. As a result, Liberty beneficially owned approximately 18.2 million shares of our common stock and 12.8 million shares of our Class B common stock.

On August 27, 2014, the entire beneficial ownership of our common stock and Class B common stock held by Liberty was acquired by Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc., or LTRIP. Simultaneously, Liberty, LTRIP’s former parent company, distributed, by means of a dividend, to the holders of its Liberty Ventures common stock, Liberty’s entire equity interest in LTRIP. We refer to this transaction as the “Liberty Spin-Off”. As a result of the Liberty Spin-Off, effective August 27, 2014, LTRIP became a separate, publicly traded company holding 100% of Liberty’s interest in TripAdvisor. 

As a result of these transactions, as of December 31, 2018, LTRIP beneficially owned approximately 18.2 million shares of our common stock and 12.8 million shares of our Class B common stock, which constitute 14.5% of the outstanding shares of common stock and 100% of the outstanding shares of Class B common stock. Assuming the conversion of all of LTRIP’s shares of Class B common stock into common stock, LTRIP would beneficially own 22.5% of the outstanding common stock. Because each share of Class B common stock is entitled to ten votes per share and each share of common stock is entitled to one vote per share, LTRIP may be deemed to beneficially own equity securities representing 57.7% of our voting power.

Employees

As of December 31, 2018, we had 3,366 employees. Of these employees, approximately half of these employees were based in the United States. We believe we have good relationships with our employees, including relationships with employees represented by international works councils or other similar organizations.  

Additional Information

We maintain a corporate website at ir.tripadvisor.com. Except as explicitly noted, the information on our website, as well as the websites of our various brands and businesses, is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, or in any other filings with, or in any information furnished or submitted to, the SEC.

 

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On our Investor Relations website (http://ir.tripadvisor.com/investor-relations), we provide our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to these reports free of charge.  These reports are available on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file or furnish these reports to the SEC or publish through press releases, public conference calls and certain webcasts. All documents filed electronically with the SEC (including reports, proxy and information statements and other information) are also available at www.sec.gov. Investors and others should be aware that we use our investor relations website (http://ir.tripadvisor.com/investor-relations) to announce material financial information to our investors as well as communicate with the public about our company, our results of operations and other information

We post our code of business conduct and ethics, which applies to all employees, including all executive officers, senior financial officers and directors, on our corporate website at www.tripadvisor.com. We intend to disclose any waivers of the code of ethics for our executive officers, senior financial officers or directors, on our corporate website.


 

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Item 1A.

Risk Factors

You should consider carefully the risks described below together with all of the other information included in this Annual Report as they may impact our business, results of operations and/or financial condition. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe are immaterial may also impair our business, results of operations or financial condition. If any of the following risks occur, our business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

If we are unable to continue to increase visitors to our websites and mobile apps, to cost-effectively convert these visitors into revenue-generating users and to continue to engage our users, our revenue, financial results and business could be harmed.

Our long term success depends on our continued ability to increase the overall number of visitors flowing through our platforms in a cost-effective manner, to convert those visitors into consumers and then to continue to engage those consumers throughout the travel planning, booking and trip-taking phases. Our traffic and user engagement could be adversely affected by a number of factors, including but not limited to, increased competition; inability to provide quality content, inventory or supply to our consumers; declines or inefficiencies in traffic acquisition; reduced awareness of our brands; and macroeconomic conditions. Certain of our competitors have advertising campaigns expressly designed to drive traffic directly to their websites, and these campaigns may negatively impact traffic to our site. We anticipate that traffic growth could decline over time, and potentially even decrease in certain periods, as our business matures, and that our success will become increasingly dependent on our ability to increase levels of user engagement on our platform. There can be no assurances that we will continue to provide content and products in a manner that meets rapidly changing demand. Any failure to obtain and manage content and products in a cost-effective manner that will engage users, or any failure to provide content and products that are perceived as useful, reliable and trustworthy, could adversely affect user experiences and their repeat behavior, reduce traffic to our websites and negatively impact our business and financial performance.

We rely on internet search engines and application marketplaces to drive traffic to our platform, certain providers of which offer products and services that compete directly with our products.  If links to our websites and apps are not displayed prominently, traffic to our platform could decline and our business would be negatively affected.  

We rely heavily on internet search engines, such as Google, to generate a significant amount of traffic to our websites, principally through the purchase of travel-related keywords (what is also known as search engine marketing, or SEM) as well as through free, or organic, search (what is also known as search engine optimization, or SEO). The number of consumers we attract from search engines to our platform is due in large part to how and where information from, and links to, our websites are displayed on search engine results pages. The display, including rankings, of search results can be affected by a number of factors, many of which are not in our control and may change frequently. Search engines frequently update and change the logic that determines the placement and display of the results of a user’s search, such that the purchased or algorithmic placement of links to our websites can be negatively affected. In addition, a search engine could, for competitive or other purposes, alter its search algorithms or results causing our websites to place lower in search query results. If a major search engine changes its algorithms in a manner that negatively affects the search engine ranking of our websites or those of our partners, or if competitive dynamics impact the cost or effectiveness of SEO or SEM in a negative manner, our business and financial performance would be adversely affected. Furthermore, our failure to successfully manage our SEO and SEM strategies and/or other traffic acquisition strategies could result in a substantial decrease in traffic to our websites, as well as increased costs to the extent we replace free traffic with paid traffic.

In some instances, search and metasearch companies and application marketplaces may change their displays or rankings in order to promote their own competing products or services or the products or services of one or more of our competitors. Google in particular is the most significant source of traffic to our website, accounting for a

 

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substantial portion of the visits to our websites and our success depends on our ability to maintain a prominent presence in search results for queries regarding local businesses on Google.  Google frequently promotes its own competing products in its web search results, which has negatively impacted the search ranking of our website. Google’s promotion of its own competing products, or similar actions by Google in the future that have the effect of reducing our prominence or ranking on its search results, could have a substantial negative effect on our business and results of operations.

We also rely on application marketplaces, or app stores such as Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play, to drive downloads of our applications. In the future, Apple, Google or other marketplace operators may make changes to their marketplaces that make access to our products more difficult. For example, Google has entered various aspects of the online travel market, including by establishing a flight metasearch product and hotel metasearch product as well as reservation functionality. Our applications may receive unfavorable treatment compared to the promotion and placement of competing applications, such as the order in which they appear within marketplaces. Similarly, if problems arise in our relationships with providers of application marketplaces, traffic to our site and our user growth could be harmed.

We derive a substantial portion of our revenue from advertising and any significant reduction in spending by advertisers or redirections of advertising spend could harm our business.

We derive a substantial portion of our revenue from the sale of advertising, primarily through click-based advertising and, to a lesser extent, display-based and subscription-based advertising. We enter into advertising contracts with our advertising partners; however, the agreement terms are generally limited to legal matters, with campaign details and economics governed by insertion orders, and most of these contracts can be terminated by our partners at will or on short notice. Our ability to grow advertising revenue with our existing or new advertising partners is dependent in large part on our ability to generate revenue for them relative to other alternatives. Advertisers will not continue to do business with us if their investment in such advertising does not generate sales leads, customers, bookings, or revenue and profit on a cost-effective basis. Our ability to provide value to our advertising partners depends on a number of factors, including effectiveness of online advertising, competitiveness of our products, traffic quality, perception of our platform, availability and accuracy of analytics and measurement solutions to demonstrate our value, and macroeconomic conditions, whether in the advertising industry generally, among specific types of marketers or within particular geographies. We cannot guarantee that our current advertisers will fulfill their obligations under existing contracts, continue to advertise beyond the terms of existing contracts or enter into any additional contracts with us.

In addition, advertising revenue could be impacted by a number of other factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

Our inability to increase or maintain user engagement, including time spent on our platform;

 

Our inability to increase or maintain the quantity and quality of ads shown to consumers, including as a result of technical infrastructure constraints;

 

The development of technologies that can block the display of our ads or block our ad measurement tools, particularly for advertising displayed on tablets and/or on mobile platforms;

 

The effectiveness of our ad targeting or degree to which consumers opt out of certain types of ad targeting;

 

Adverse government actions or legal developments relating to advertising, including legislative and regulatory developments and developments in litigation that limit our ability to deliver or target advertising, particularly in mobile devices; and

 

The impact of macroeconomic conditions, whether in the advertising industry in general or among special types of marketers or within particular geographies.

The occurrence of any of these or other factors could result in a reduction in demand for our ads, which may reduce the prices we receive for our ads, or cause marketers to stop advertising with us altogether, either of which would negatively affect our revenue and financial results.

 

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Click-based advertising revenue accounts for the majority of our advertising revenue. Our CPC pricing for click-based advertising depends, in part, on competition between advertisers. If our large advertisers become less competitive with each other, merge with each other or with our competitors, focus more on per-click profit than on traffic volume, or are able to reduce CPCs, this could have an adverse impact on our click-based advertising revenue which would, in turn, have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We rely on a relatively small number of significant advertising partners and any reduction in spending by or loss of these partners could seriously harm our business.

We derive a substantial portion of our revenue from a relatively small number of advertising partners and rely significantly on our relationships. For example, for the year ended December 31, 2018, our two most significant advertising partners, Expedia and Booking (and their subsidiaries), accounted for a combined 37% of total revenue. While we enter into master advertising contracts with our partners, as discussed above, most of these contracts can be terminated by our partners at will or on short notice. If any of our significant advertisers were to cease or significantly curtail advertising on our websites, we could experience a rapid decline in our revenue over a relatively short period of time which would have a material impact on our business.

Our business depends on a strong brand and any failure to maintain, protect and enhance our brand could hurt our ability to retain and expand our base of consumers and partners, as well as increase the frequency with which consumers utilize our products and services.  

We believe that the strength of our brands (particularly the TripAdvisor brand) has contributed significantly to our success.  We also believe that maintaining, protecting and enhancing our brands is critical to expanding our base of consumers, increasing the frequency with which consumers utilize our solutions and attracting advertisers and business partners. Our ability to maintain and protect our brand depends, in part, on our ability to maintain consumer trust in our products and in the quality, integrity, reliability of usefulness of the user content and other information found on our platform. If consumers do not view our reviews to be useful and reliable, they may seek other sources to obtain the information they are looking for and may not return to our platform as often in the future, or at all.  This would negatively impact our ability to attract and retain consumers and partners and the frequency with which they use our platform.  We dedicate significant resources to these goals, primarily through our computer algorithms and teams of moderators that are focused on identifying inappropriate, unreliable or deceptive content.  We remove those types of content from our website and, in certain cases, take legal action against individuals or businesses that we believe have engaged in deceptive practices.  

Media, legislative, or regulatory scrutiny of our decisions regarding user privacy, content, advertising, and other issues may adversely affect our reputation and brands. Negative publicity about our company, including our content, technology, business practices or strategic plans, could diminish our reputation and confidence in our brand, thereby negatively affecting the use of our products. For example, certain media outlets have alleged that we have improperly filtered or screened reviews, that we have not properly verified reviews, or that we manipulate reviews, ranking and ratings in favor of our advertisers against non-advertisers. We expend significant resources to ensure the integrity of our reviews and to ensure that the most relevant reviews are available to our consumers; we do not establish rankings and ratings in favor of our advertisers.  Nevertheless, our reputation and brand, the traffic to our platform and our business may suffer from negative publicity about our company or if consumers otherwise perceive that our content is manipulated or biased.  In addition, regulatory inquiries or investigations require management time and attention and could result in further negative publicity, regardless of their merits or ultimate outcomes.  

In addition, unfavorable publicity regarding, for example, our practices relating to privacy and data protection, product changes, competitive pressures, litigation or regulatory activity, could adversely affect our reputation with our consumers and our partners. Such negative publicity also could have an adverse effect on the size, engagement, and loyalty of our user base and result in decreased revenue.

 

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We continue to invest significant time and effort towards educating users about our brand and our product offerings and there can be no assurances that these efforts will be successful.

In an effort to enhance our brand we invest significantly in brand marketing including, but not limited to, television advertising. We expect these investments to continue, and potentially even increase, as a result of a variety of factors, including relatively high levels of advertising spending by competitors, the increasing costs of supporting multiple brands, expansion into new geographies, product positioning where our brands are less well known, and the continued emergence and relative traffic share growth of search engines as destination sites for travelers. We expect to continue our television advertising campaign and to adjust our marketing efforts and spend among the different marketing channels, in each case as we think appropriate based on the relative growth opportunity, the expected returns and the competitive environment in the different segments and businesses in which we operate.

Such efforts may not maintain or enhance consumer awareness of our brands and, even if we are successful in our branding efforts, such efforts may not be cost-effective or as efficient as they have been historically. If we are unable to maintain or enhance consumer awareness of our brands or to generate demand in a cost-effective manner, it would have a material adverse effect on our business and financial performance. In addition, there are no assurances that these actions will have a positive impact on our marketing efficiencies or operating margins or when the financial benefit expected to result from these efforts will exceed the costs of such efforts.  Furthermore, some of our current and potential competitors have access to significantly greater and more diverse resources than we do, and they may also be able to leverage other aspects of their businesses to enable them to compete more effectively with us.

 

Consumer use of platforms other than desktop computers creates new challenges.  If we are unable to operate effectively on these platforms or our products for such devices are not compelling, our business may be adversely affected.  

 

The number of people who access the internet through devices other than desktop computers, including mobile phones, tablets, handheld computers, voice-assisted speakers, television set-top devices and automobiles, continues to increase.  We anticipate that the rate of use of these devices will continue to grow and that usage through desktop computers may continue to decline. The functionality and user experience associated with these alternative devices, such as a smaller screen size or lack of a screen, may make the use of our platform through such devices more difficult than through a desktop computer.  For example, mobile phone devices monetize at a significantly lower rate than desktops and advertising opportunities are more limited on these mobile devices. Additionally, consumer purchasing patterns differ on alternative devices.  For example, accommodation reservations made on a mobile device typically are for shorter lengths of stay and are not made as far in advance.  Mobile consumers may also be unwilling to download multiple apps from multiple companies providing similar services or contribute high quality content through such devices.  As a result, the consumer experience with mobile apps and brand recognition are likely to become increasingly important.  We expect that the ways in which consumers engage with our platform will continue to change over time as consumers increasingly engage via alternative devices.  This may make it more difficult or more expensive to develop products that consumers find useful or provide them with the information they seek, and may also negatively affect our content if consumers do not continue to contribute high quality content through such devices. 

 

In order to attract and retain engaged consumers, we must continue to extend our platform to drive adoption of and user engagement on other devices (in particular, our mobile platform) and the products and services we offer on such devices must be compelling.   As new devices and platforms are continually being released, it is difficult to predict the problems we may encounter in adapting our products and services to them – and developing competitive new products and services - and we may need to devote significant resources to the creation, support and maintenance of such products.    Our success will also depend on the interoperability of our products with a range of technologies, systems, networks and standards or in creating, maintaining and developing relationships with key participants in related industries, some of which may be our competitors.  For example, Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone are the leading smartphones in the world. Therefore, our products need to synergistically function on their respective operating systems in order to create a positive user experience on a mobile device. However, Google could leverage its Android operating system to give its travel services a competitive advantage, either technically or with prominence on its Google Play app store or within its mobile search results. Similarly, Apple obtained a patent

 

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for “iTravel,” a mobile app that would allow a traveler to check in for a travel reservation. In addition, Apple’s iPhone operating system includes “Wallet,” a virtual wallet app that holds tickets, boarding passes, coupons and gift cards, and, along with iTravel, may be indicative of Apple’s intent to enter the travel reservations business in some capacity. Apple has substantial market share in the smartphone category and controls integration of offerings, including travel services, into its mobile operating system. Apple also has more experience producing and developing mobile apps and has access to greater resources than we do. Apple may use or expand iTravel, Wallet, Siri (Apple’s voice recognition “concierge” service), Apple Pay (Apple’s mobile payment system) or another mobile app or functionality as a means of entering the travel reservations marketplace. To the extent Google or Apple use their mobile operating systems, app distribution channels or, in the case of Google, search services, to favor their own travel service offerings, there may be an adverse effect on our ability to complete in the mobile space. We may not be successful in developing products that operate effectively with these technologies, systems, networks and standards or in creating, maintaining and developing relationships with key participants in related industries.  If we experience difficulties or increased costs in integrating our products into alternative devices, or if manufacturers elect not to include our products in their devices, make changes that degrade the functionality of our products, give preferential treatment to competitive products or prevent us from delivering advertising, our user growth and operating results may be harmed.  This risk may be exacerbated by the frequency with which consumers change or upgrade their devices.  In the event consumers choose devices that do not already include or support our platform or do not install our products when they change or upgrade their devices, our traffic and user engagement may be harmed.

 

In addition, the market for advertising products on mobile and other devices is rapidly evolving. As new devices and platforms are released, consumers may begin consuming content in a manner that is more difficult to monetize. Similarly, as advertising products for mobile and other platforms develop, demand may increase for products that we do not offer or that may alienate our user base, which we must balance against our commitment to prioritizing the quality of user experience over short-term monetization. If we are not able to balance these competing considerations successfully to develop compelling advertising products, advertisers may stop or reduce their advertising with us and we may not be able to generate meaningful revenue from alternative devices despite the expected growth in their usage.

Declines or disruptions in the economy in general and travel industry in particular could adversely affect our businesses and financial performance.

Our businesses and financial performance are affected by the health of the global economy generally as well as the travel industry and leisure travel in particular. Sales of travel services tend to decline or grow more slowly during economic downturns and recessions when consumers engage in less discretionary spending, are concerned about unemployment or economic weakness, have reduced access to credit or experience other concerns that reduce their ability or willingness to travel. The global economy may be adversely impacted by unforeseen events beyond our control including incidents of actual or threatened terrorism, regional hostilities or instability, unusual weather patterns, natural disasters, political instability and health concerns (including epidemics or pandemics), defaults on government debt, significant increases in fuel and energy costs, tax increases and other matters that could reduce discretionary spending, tightening of credit markets and further declines in consumer confidence. Decreased travel spending could reduce the demand for our services and have a negative impact on our business and financial performance.  

In addition, the uncertainty of macro-economic factors and their impact on consumer behavior, which may differ across regions, makes it more difficult to forecast industry and consumer trends and the timing and degree of their impact on our markets and business, which in turn could adversely affect our ability to effectively manage our business and our results of operations. For example, since the United Kingdom’s referendum to exit the European Union, known as Brexit, global markets and foreign exchange rates have experienced increased volatility, including a decline in the value of the British pound as compared to the U.S. Dollar.  Upon leaving the European Union, among other things, the United Kingdom could lose access to the single European Union market and travel between the United Kingdom and European Union countries could be restricted.  We could face new regulatory costs and challenges if the U.K. regulations diverge from those of the European Union.  Since the terms of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union are uncertain, we are unable to predict the effect Brexit will have on our business and results of operations.  

 

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We operate in an increasingly competitive global environment and our failure to compete effectively could reduce our market share and harm our financial performance.

We compete in rapidly evolving and competitive markets. We face competition for content, consumers, advertisers, online travel search and price comparison services, or what is known in the industry as metasearch, and online reservations. We compete globally with both online and offline, established and emerging, providers of travel, lodging, experiences and restaurant reservation and related services. The markets for the services we offer are intensely competitive, and current and new competitors can launch new services at a relatively low cost.

We also compete with different types of companies in the various markets and geographies where we operate, including large and small companies in the travel space as well as broader service providers. More specifically:

 

In our Hotel segment, we face competition from, and in some cases partner with, the following businesses: OTAs (including Expedia and Booking and many of their respective subsidiaries and operating companies); hotel metasearch providers (including trivago, a subsidiary of Expedia, Kayak and HotelsCombined, subsidiaries of Booking, and Ctrip.com International, Ltd); large online search, social media, and marketplace platforms and companies (including Google, Facebook, Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Alibaba, and Amazon); and traditional offline travel agencies; and global hotel chains seeking to promote direct bookings.

 

We also face competition from different companies in each of the offerings in our Non-Hotel segment. Experiences competes with online travel agencies, such as Airbnb, Booking, and GetYourGuide; traditional travel agencies; online travel service providers; and wholesalers, among others.  Restaurants competes with other online restaurant reservation services, such as SeatMe (owned by Yelp) and OpenTable (a subsidiary of Booking). Rentals competes with companies focused on alternative lodging, shared accommodations and online accommodation searches, including Airbnb, HomeAway (a subsidiary of Expedia) and Booking.com (a subsidiary of Booking).

There has been a proliferation of new channels through which providers can offer accommodations, experiences and restaurant reservations.  Metasearch services may lower the cost for new companies to enter the market by providing a distribution channel without the cost of promoting the new entrant’s brand to drive consumers directly to its website.  Some of our competitors and potential competitors offer a variety of online services, many of which are used by competitors more frequently than online travel services.  In addition, in some cases, our competitors are willing to make little or no profit on a transaction, or offer travel services at a loss, in order gain market share. Many of our competitors (such as Google, Booking and Ctrip) have significantly greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than us and have more expertise in developing online commerce and facilitating internet traffic as well as large client bases. They also have the ability to leverage other aspects of their business to enable them to compete more effectively against us. For example, Google has entered various aspects of the online travel market, including by establishing a flight metasearch product ("Google Flights") and a hotel metasearch product ("Google Hotel Ads") that are growing rapidly, as well as its "Book on Google" reservation functionality and its Google Trips app.

In addition, Google and other large, established companies with substantial resources and expertise in developing online commerce and facilitating internet traffic have launched travel or travel-related search, metasearch and/or reservation booking services and may create additional inroads into online travel. Google's travel metasearch services, Google Hotel Ads and Google Flights, are growing rapidly and have achieved significant market share in a relatively short time.  In addition, many of our competitors, including online search companies, continue to expand their voice and artificial intelligence capabilities, which may provide them with a competitive advantage in travel. We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete successfully against our current, emerging and future competitors or on platforms that may emerge, or provide differentiated products and services to our traveler base.  

We compete with certain companies that we also do business with, including some of our click-based travel partners. The consolidation of our competitors and travel partners, including Expedia (through its acquisitions of Orbitz, Travelocity, and HomeAway) and Booking (through its acquisitions of KAYAK and OpenTable), may affect our relative competitiveness and our travel partner relationships. Competition and consolidation could result in

 

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higher traffic acquisition costs, reduced margins on our advertising services, loss of market share, reduced customer traffic to our websites and reduced advertising by travel companies on our websites.

As the industry shifts towards online travel services and the technology supporting it continues to evolve, including platforms such as mobile phone and tablet computing devices, competition is likely to intensify. Competition in our industry may result in pricing pressure, loss of market share or decreased user engagement, any of which could adversely affect our business and financial performance.

We rely on information technology to operate our business and remain competitive, and any failure to adapt to technological developments or industry trends could harm our businesses.

We depend on the use of sophisticated information technologies and systems for website and mobile apps, supplier connectivity, communications, reservations, payment processing, procurement, customer service and fraud prevention. Our future success depends on our ability to continuously improve and upgrade our systems and infrastructure to meet rapidly evolving consumer trends and demands while at the same time maintaining the reliability and integrity of our systems and infrastructure. We may not be able to maintain or replace our existing systems or introduce new technologies and systems as quickly as we would like or in a cost-effective manner. We may not be successful, or as successful as our competitors, in developing technologies and systems that operate effectively across multiple devices and platforms in a way that is appealing to our consumers.

In addition, the emergence of alternative devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, and the emergence of niche competitors who may be able to optimize products, services or strategies for such platforms, will require new investment in technology. New developments in other areas could also make it easier for competitors to enter our markets due to lower up-front technology costs. Technology changes, including new devices, services and home assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa Voice and Google Home, and developing technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, could negatively impact our business.

If we do not continue to innovate and provide products, services and features that are useful to users, we may not remain competitive, and our business and financial performance could suffer.

Our success depends in part on continued innovation to provide products, features and services that make our platform compelling to users and engage our consumers. Our competitors are continually developing innovations in online travel-related services and features. As a result, we are continually working to improve our business model and consumer experience in order to engage our consumers and drive user traffic and conversion rates. We have invested, and expect to continue to invest significant resources in developing and marketing these innovations. We can give no assurances that the changes we make will yield the benefits we expect and will not have unintended or adverse impacts that we did not anticipate. If we are unable to continue offering innovative products and services and quality features that users want to use, existing consumers may become dissatisfied and use competitors’ offerings and we may be unable to attract additional consumers, which could adversely affect our business and financial performance.

Our dedication to making the user experience our highest priority may cause us to prioritize rapid innovation and user experience over short-term financial results.

We strive to create the best experience for our users, providing them with the information, products and tools to enable them to plan, book, and experience the perfect trip. We believe that in doing so we will increase our rates of conversion, our revenue per hotel shopper and, ultimately, our financial performance over the long-term. We have taken actions in the past and may continue to make decisions in the future that have the effect of reducing our short-term revenue or profitability if we believe that the decisions benefit the overall user experience. For example, we may introduce new products or changes to existing products or the user experience that decrease rates of conversion but increases revenue per hotel shopper. In addition, our approach of putting users first may negatively impact our relationship with existing or prospective partners. These actions and practices could result in a loss of partners, which in turn could harm our results of operations. The short-term reductions in revenue or profitability could be more severe than we anticipate or these decisions may not produce the long-term benefits that we expect, in which

 

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case our user growth and engagement, our relationships with consumers and travel partners, and our business and results of operations could be harmed. In addition, if new or enhanced products fail to engage users or if we are unsuccessful in our effort to monetize these initiatives, we may fail to generate sufficient revenue, profit margin or other value to justify our investments, in which case our business and results of operations would be adversely affected.  

We are dependent upon the quality of traffic in our network to provide value to our partners, and any failure in our quality control could have a material adverse effect on the value of our websites to our partners and adversely affect our revenue.

We use technology and processes to monitor the quality of the internet traffic that we deliver to our partners and have identified metrics to demonstrate the quality of that traffic. These metrics are used to not only identify the value of advertising on our website but also to identify low quality clicks such as non-human processes, including robots, spiders or other software; the mechanical automation of clicking; and other types of invalid clicks or click fraud. Even with such monitoring in place, there is a risk that a certain amount of low-quality traffic, or traffic that online advertisers deem to be invalid, will be delivered to such online advertisers. As a result, we may be required to credit amounts owed to us by our partners. Furthermore, low-quality or invalid traffic may be detrimental to our relationships with partners, and could adversely affect our advertising pricing and revenue.

We rely on assumptions and estimates and data to calculate certain of our key metrics, and real or perceived inaccuracies in such metrics may harm our reputation and negatively affect our business.

We believe that certain metrics are key to our business, including but not limited to unique visitors, hotel shoppers, and revenue per hotel shopper. As both the industry in which we operate and our business continue to evolve, so too might the metrics by which we evaluate our business. While the calculation of these metrics is based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates, our internal tools are not independently verified by a third party and have a number of limitations and, furthermore, our methodologies for tracking these metrics may change over time. For example, a single person may have multiple accounts or browse the internet on multiple browsers or devices, some consumers may restrict our ability to accurately identify them across visits, some mobile apps automatically contact our servers for regular updates with no user action, and we are not always able to capture user information on all of our platforms. As such, the calculations of our unique visitors may not accurately reflect the number of people actually visiting our platforms. We continue to improve upon our tools and methodologies to capture data and believe that our current metrics are accurate; however, the improvement of our tools and methodologies could cause inconsistency between current data and previously reported data, which could confuse investors or lead to questions about the integrity of our data. Also if the internal tools we use to track these metrics under-count or over-count performance or contain algorithm or other technical errors, the data we report may not be accurate. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on these metrics.

We rely on the performance of highly skilled personnel and, if we are unable to retain or motivate key personnel or hire, retain and motivate qualified personnel, our business would be harmed.  

Our future success is largely dependent on the talents and efforts of highly skilled individuals.  In particular, the contributions of Stephen Kaufer, our co-founder, Chief Executive Officer and President, the contributions of key senior management and the contributions of software engineers and other technology professionals, are critical to our overall management and the success of our business.  We cannot ensure that we will be able to retain the services of our existing key personnel and the loss of one or more of our key personnel could seriously harm our business. We do not maintain any key person life insurance policies.

In addition, competition remains intense for well-qualified employees in certain aspects of our business, including software engineers, developers, product management and development personnel, and other technology professionals. Our continued ability to compete effectively depends on our ability to attract new employees and to retain and motivate existing employees. As a global company, we aim to attract quality employees from all over the world, so any restrictions on travel for professional or personal purposes may cause significant disruption to our businesses or negatively affect our ability to attract and retain employees on a global basis. If we do not succeed in

 

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attracting well-qualified employees or retaining or motivating existing employees, our business would be adversely affected.

Acquisitions, investments, significant commercial arrangements and/or new business strategies could disrupt our ongoing business and present new challenges and risks.

Our success will depend, in part, on our ability to expand our product offerings in order to grow our business in response to changing technologies, user and partner demands and competitive pressures. As a result, we have acquired, invested in and/or entered into significant commercial arrangements with a number of new businesses in the past and our future growth may depend, in part, on future acquisitions, investments, commercial arrangements and/or changes in business strategies. Such endeavors may involve significant risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

Expected and unexpected costs incurred in identifying and pursuing these endeavors, and performing due diligence on potential targets that may or may not be successful;

 

Use of cash resources and incurrence of debt and contingent liabilities in funding these endeavors that may limit other potential uses of our cash, including product development, stock repurchases, and/or dividend payments;

 

Amortization expenses related to acquired intangible assets and other adverse accounting consequences;

 

Diversion of management’s attention or other resources from our existing business;

 

Difficulties and expenses in integrating the operations, products, technology, privacy protection systems, information systems or personnel of the company, including the assimilation of corporate cultures;

 

Difficulties in implementing and retaining uniform standards, controls, procedures, policies and information systems;

 

The assumption of known and unknown debt and liabilities of the acquired company, including costs associated with litigation, cybersecurity risks, and other claims relating to the acquired company;

 

Failure of any company which we have acquired, in which we have invested, or with which we have a commercial arrangement, to achieve anticipated revenues, earnings or cash flows or to retain key management or employees;

 

Failure to generate adequate returns on acquisitions and investments;

 

With respect to minority investments, limited management or operational control and reputational risk, which risk is heightened if the controlling person in such case has business interests, strategies or goals that are inconsistent with ours;

 

Entrance into markets in which we have no direct prior experience and increased complexity in our business;

 

Impairment of goodwill or other intangible assets such as trademarks or other intellectual property arising from acquisitions; and

 

Adverse market reaction to acquisitions.

We have invested, and may in the future invest, in privately-held companies and these investments are currently accounted for using the measurement alternative for equity investments without a readily determinable fair value, which measure these investments at cost while subtracting any impairments, if any, plus or minus changes resulting from observable price changes in orderly transactions for the identical or a similar investment of the same issuer. Such investments are inherently risky in that such companies are typically at an early stage of development, may have no or limited revenues, may not be or may never become profitable, may not be able to secure additional funding or their technologies, services or products may not be successfully developed or introduced into the market. Further, our ability to liquidate any such investments is typically dependent upon some liquidity event, such as a public offering or acquisition, since no public market exists for such securities. Valuations of such privately-held companies are inherently complex and uncertain due to the lack of liquid market for the company’s securities.

 

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Moreover, we could lose the full amount of any of our investments and any impairment of our investments could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

We cannot assure you that these investments will be successful or that such endeavors will result in the realization of the full benefits of synergies, cost savings, innovation and operational efficiencies that may be possible or that we will achieve these benefits within a reasonable period of time.  

If we fail to manage our growth effectively, our brand, results of operations and business could be harmed.

Over the years, we have experienced rapid growth in some areas of our business, including through acquisitions of other businesses and in new international markets. We continue to make substantial investments in our technology, product and sales and marketing organizations. This growth places substantial demands on management and our operational infrastructure. In addition, as our business matures, we make periodic changes and adjustments to our organization in response to various internal and external considerations, including market opportunities, the competitive landscape, new and enhanced products and acquisitions. These changes may result in a temporary lack of focus or productivity or otherwise impact our business.

To manage our growth, we may need to improve our operational, financial and management systems and processes which may require significant capital expenditures and allocation of valuable management and employee resources. As we continue to grow, we must effectively integrate, develop and motivate a large number of new employees, including employees in international markets, while maintaining the beneficial aspects of our company culture. If we do not manage the growth of our business and operations effectively, the quality of our platform and efficiency of our operations could suffer, which could harm our brand, results of operations and business.

The online short-term and vacation rental market is rapidly evolving and if we fail to predict the manner in which the market develops, our business and prospects may suffer.

We offer short-term and vacation rental services on our TripAdvisor-branded sites as well as through our dedicated Rentals websites. The short-term and vacation rental market has been, and continues to be, subject to regulatory development globally that affects the industry and the ability of companies like us to list these rental properties online. For example, some states and local jurisdictions, both domestically and internationally, have adopted, or are considering adopting, statutes or ordinances that prohibit property owners and managers from renting certain properties on a short-term basis or otherwise limit their ability to do so, and other states and local jurisdictions may introduce similar regulations. Some states and local jurisdictions also have fair housing or other laws that restrict whether and how properties may be rented, which they assert apply to vacation rentals. Many homeowners, condominium and neighborhood associations have adopted rules that prohibit or restrict short-term rentals. Many of the fundamental statutes and ordinances that impose taxes or other obligations on travel and lodging companies were established before the growth of the internet and e-commerce, which creates a risk of these laws being used in ways not originally intended that could burden property owners and managers or otherwise harm our business. Operating in this dynamic regulatory environment requires significant management attention and financial resources. We cannot assure that our efforts will be successful, and the investment and additional resources required to manage growth will produce the desired levels of revenue or profitability.

 

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Risks Related to Legal and Regulatory Matters

We are a global company that operates in many different jurisdictions and these operations expose us to additional risks, which risks increase as our business continues to expand.

We operate in a number of jurisdictions both inside and outside of the United States and continue to expand our operations both domestically and internationally. Many regions have different economic conditions, languages, currencies, consumer expectations, legislation, regulatory environments (including labor laws and customs), tax laws, levels of consumer acceptance and use of the internet for commerce and levels of political stability. We are subject to associated risks typical of global businesses, including, but not limited to, the following:

     Compliance with additional laws and regulations (including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act and GDPR), data privacy requirements, labor and employment law, laws regarding advertisements and promotions and anti-competition regulations;

     Diminished ability to legally enforce contractual rights;

     Increased risk and limits on enforceability of intellectual property rights;

     Restrictions on repatriation of cash as well as restrictions on investments in operations in certain countries;

     Financial risk arising from transactions in multiple currencies as well as foreign currency exchange restrictions;

     Difficulties in managing staff and operations due to distance, time zones, language and cultural differences;

     Uncertainty regarding liability for services, content and intellectual property rights, including uncertainty as a result of local laws and lack of precedent;

     Economic or political instability or laws and regulations involving economic or trade prohibitions or sanctions; and

     Threatened or actual acts of terrorism.

Our strategy includes continued expansion in existing international and new international markets.  Many of these markets have different economic conditions, customers, languages, currencies, consumer expectations, levels of consumer acceptance and use of the internet for commerce, legislation, regulatory environments, tax laws and levels of political stability, and we are subject to associated risks typical of international businesses.  International markets have strong local competitors with established brands and travel service providers or relationships that may make expansion in certain markets difficult and costly and take more time than anticipated.  In addition, compliance with legal, regulatory or tax requirements in multiple jurisdictions places demands on our time and resources, and we may nonetheless experience unforeseen and potentially adverse legal, regulatory or tax consequences.  In some markets, such as China, legal and other regulatory requirements may prohibit or limit participation by foreign businesses, such as by making foreign ownership or management of internet or travel-related businesses illegal or difficult or may make direct participation in those markets uneconomic, which could make our entry or expansion in those markets difficult or impossible, require that we work with a local partner or result in higher operating costs.  If we are unsuccessful in expanding in new and existing markets and effectively managing that expansion, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected. A number of countries are actively pursuing changes to their tax laws applicable to corporate multinationals, such as the recently enacted U.S. tax legislation commonly referred to as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “2017 Tax Act”). Foreign governments may enact tax laws that could result in further changes to global taxation and materially affect our financial position and results of operations.  

The 2017 Tax Act resulted in significant changes to the U.S. corporate income tax system. The 2017 Tax Act requires complex computations to be performed that were not previously required in U.S. tax law, significant judgments to be made in interpretation of the provisions of the 2017 Tax Act and significant estimates in calculations, and the preparation and analysis of information not previously relevant or regularly produced. The U.S.

 

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Treasury Department, the IRS and other standard-setting bodies could interpret or issue guidance on how provisions of the 2017 Tax Act will be applied or otherwise administered that is different from our interpretation.

Additionally, we continue to accumulate positive cash flows in foreign jurisdictions, which we consider indefinitely reinvested, although we will continue to evaluate the impact of the 2017 Tax Act on our capital deployment within and outside the U.S. The repatriation of such funds for use in the United States, including for corporate purposes such as acquisitions, stock repurchases, or debt refinancings, may result in additional U.S. income tax expense and higher cost for such capital.

We are regularly subject to claims, lawsuits, government investigations, and other proceedings that may result in adverse outcomes.

We are regularly subject to claims, lawsuits, government investigations and other proceedings involving, among other matters, patent and intellectual property rights (including alleged infringement of third-party intellectual property rights), tax matters (including value-added, excise, transient, occupancy and accommodation taxes), regulatory compliance (including competition and consumer protection matters), defamation and free speech, labor and employment matters and commercial disputes.

Such claims, lawsuits, government investigations and proceedings are inherently uncertain and their results cannot be predicted with certainty. Regardless of the outcome, any of these types of legal proceedings could have an adverse impact on us because of legal costs, diversion of management resources, injunctions or damage awards and other factors. Determining reserves for our pending litigation or other legal proceedings is a complex, fact-intensive process that requires significant judgment. It is possible that a resolution of one or more such proceedings could result in substantial damages, fines or penalties that could adversely affect our business, consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows in a particular period. These proceedings could also result in reputational harm, criminal sanctions, consent decrees, or orders preventing us from offering certain features, functionalities, products, or services, requiring a change in our business practices or other field action, or requiring development of non-infringing or otherwise altered products or technologies. Any of these consequences could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

A failure to comply with current laws, rules and regulations or changes to such laws, rules and regulations and other legal uncertainties may adversely affect our business or financial performance.

Our business and financial performance could be adversely affected by unfavorable changes in or interpretations of existing laws, rules and regulations or the promulgation of new laws, rules and regulations applicable to us and our business, including those relating to internet and online commerce, internet advertising, consumer protection, data security and privacy, travel and rental licensing and listing requirements and tax. In some cases, these laws continue to evolve.  

For example, there is, and will likely continue to be, an increasing number of laws and regulations pertaining to internet and online commerce that may relate to liability for information retrieved from or transmitted over the internet, online editorial and user-generated content, user privacy, data security, behavioral targeting and online advertising, taxation, liability for third-party activities and the quality of products and services. In addition, enforcement authorities continue to rely on their authority under existing consumer protection laws to take action against companies relating to data privacy and security practices. The growth and development of online commerce may prompt calls for more stringent consumer protection laws and more aggressive enforcement efforts, which may impose additional burdens on online businesses generally.  

Further, Rentals has been and continues to be subject to regulatory developments that affect the rental industry and the ability of competitors like us to list those rentals online. For example, some states and local jurisdictions have fair housing or other laws governing whether and how properties may be rented, which they assert apply to rentals. In addition, many homeowners, condominium and neighborhood associations have adopted or are considering adopting statutes or ordinances that prohibit or restrict property owners and managers from short-term rentals.  

 

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We also have been subject, and we will likely be subject in the future, to inquiries from time to time from regulatory bodies concerning compliance with consumer protection, competition, tax and travel industry-specific laws and regulations. The failure of our businesses to comply with these laws and regulations could result in fines and/or proceedings against us by governmental agencies and/or consumers, which if material, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Further, if such laws and regulations are not enforced equally against other competitors in a particular market, our compliance with such laws may put us at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis competitors who do not comply with such requirements.

The promulgation of new laws, rules and regulations, or the new interpretation of existing laws, rules and regulations, in each case that restrict or otherwise unfavorably impact the ability or manner in which we provide services could require us to change certain aspects of our business, operations and commercial relationships to ensure compliance, which could decrease demand for services, reduce revenues, increase costs and/or subject the company to additional liabilities. For example, in 2018, the European Union adopted GDPR implementing enhanced data protection requirements and other jurisdictions are contemplating and may in the future adopt similar legislation.  This legislation could increase the cost and complexity of delivering our services. Unfavorable changes could decrease demand for products and services, limit marketing methods and capabilities, impede development of new products, result in negative publicity, require significant management time, increase costs and/or subject us to additional liabilities. Violations of these laws and regulations could result in penalties and/or criminal sanctions against us, our officers or our employees and/or restrictions on the conduct of parts of our business in certain jurisdictions.    

We cannot be sure that our intellectual property is protected from copying or use by others, including potential competitors.

Our websites rely on content, brands and technology, much of which is proprietary. We protect our proprietary content, brands and technology by relying on a combination of trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, patents and confidentiality agreements. Any misappropriation or violation of our rights could have a material adverse effect on our business. Even with these precautions, it may be possible for another party to copy or otherwise obtain and use our proprietary technology, content or brands without authorization or to develop similar technology, content or brands independently.

Effective intellectual property protection is expensive to develop and maintain, both in terms of initial and ongoing registration requirements and expenses and the costs of defending our rights. In addition, effective intellectual property protection may not be available in every jurisdiction in which our services are made available, and policing unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and expensive. Therefore, in certain jurisdictions, we may be unable to protect our intellectual property adequately against unauthorized third-party copying or use, which could adversely affect our business or ability to compete. We cannot be sure that the steps we have taken will prevent misappropriation or infringement of our intellectual property. Furthermore, we may need to go to court or other tribunals or administrative bodies in order to enforce our intellectual property rights, to protect our trade secrets or to determine the validity and scope of the proprietary rights of others. These proceedings might result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. Our failure to protect our intellectual property in a cost-effective or effective manner could have a material adverse effect on our business and ability to protect our technology, content and brands.

We currently license from third parties and incorporate the technologies and content into our websites. As we continue to introduce new services that incorporate new technologies and content, we may be required to license additional technology, or content. We cannot be sure that such technology or content will be available on commercially reasonable terms, if at all.

 

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Risks Related to Data and Privacy

Our processing, storage and use of personal information and other data subjects us to additional laws and regulations and failure to comply with those laws and regulations could give rise to liabilities.

We collect, process, store and transmit data, including personal information, for our consumers. As a result, we are subject to a variety of laws in the United States and abroad regarding privacy and the storing, sharing, use, processing, disclosure and protection of personal information and other consumer data, the scope of which are changing, subject to differing interpretations, and may be inconsistent between countries or conflict with other rules. In addition, the security of data when engaging in electronic commerce is essential to maintaining consumer and travel service provider confidences in our services. The regulatory framework for privacy issues worldwide is currently in flux and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Practices regarding the collection, use, storage, transmission and security of personal information by companies operating over the internet have recently come under increased public scrutiny. The U.S. Congress and federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, are reviewing the need for greater regulation for the collection and use of information concerning consumer behavior on the internet. Various U.S. courts are also considering the applicability of existing federal and state statutes, including computer trespass and wiretapping laws, to the collection and exchange of information online.

In addition, we are subject to GDPR, a new data protection legal framework adopted by the European Union that is intended to enhance the privacy and security of personal data, including credit card information. There are a number of proposals for data privacy laws pending or proposed in other jurisdictions, including at both the state and federal level of the United States. Implementing and complying with these laws and regulations may be more costly or take longer than we anticipate, or could otherwise affect our business operations. We strive to comply with all applicable laws, policies, legal obligations and industry codes of conduct relating to privacy and data protection. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with our privacy policies, privacy-related obligations to consumers or other third parties, or privacy-related legal obligations, may result in governmental enforcement actions, litigation or public statements that could harm our reputation and cause our users and partners to lose trust in us, which could have an adverse effect on our business, brand, market share and results of operations. For example, GDPR imposes a strict data protection compliance regime with severe penalties of up to the greater of 4% of worldwide annual turnover and/or €20 million.

We are subject to risks associated with processing credit card and other payment transactions and failure to manage those risks may subject us to fines, penalties and additional costs and could have a negative impact on our business. 

We accept payments from consumers and partners using a variety of methods, including credit card, debit card, direct debit from a customer’s bank account, and invoicing. For existing and future payment options we offer to our customers, we may become subject to additional regulations and compliance requirements (including obligations to implement enhanced authentication processes). These regulations and/or requirements could result in significant costs and reduce the ease of use of our payment products and yet may still be susceptible to fraudulent activity. In addition, we may be held liable for accepting fraudulent credit cards on our websites as well as other payment disputes with our customers.  For certain payment methods, including credit and debit cards, we pay interchange and other fees, which may increase over time and raise our operating costs and lower profitability. We rely on third parties to provide certain payment methods and payment processing services, including the processing of credit cards and debit cards. In each case, our business could be disrupted if these companies become unwilling or unable to provide these services to us. We are also subject to payment card association operating rules, including data security rules, certification requirements, and rules governing electronic funds transfers, which could change or be reinterpreted to make it difficult or impossible for us to comply. If we fail to comply with these rules or requirements or if our data security systems are breached or compromised, we may be liable for card issuing banks’ costs, subject to fines and higher transaction fees, and/or lose our ability to accept credit and debit card payments, process electronic funds transfers, or facilitate other types of online payments. We are also subject to a number of other laws and regulations relating to payments, money laundering, international money transfers, privacy and information security, and electronic fund transfers. If we were found to be in violation of applicable laws or

 

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regulations, we could be subject to additional requirements and civil and criminal penalties, or forced to cease providing certain services.

System security issues, data protection breaches, cyberattacks and system outage issues could disrupt our operations or services provided to our consumers, and any such disruption could damage our reputation and adversely affect our business, financial results and stock price.

Our reputation and ability to attract, retain and service our consumers and travel partners is dependent upon the reliable performance and security of our computer systems and those of third parties we utilize in our operations.  Significant security issues, data breaches, cyberattacks and outages, interruptions or delays, in our systems or third party systems upon which we rely, could impair our ability to display content or process transactions and significantly harm our business. Breaches of our security measures or the accidental loss, inadvertent disclosure or unapproved dissemination of proprietary information or sensitive or confidential data about us, our consumers or our travel partners, could expose us, our consumers and travel partners to a risk of loss or misuse of this information, damage our brand and reputation or otherwise harm our business and financial performance and result in government enforcement actions and litigation and potential liability for us.

Computer programmers and hackers also may be able to develop and deploy viruses, worms, ransomware and other malicious software programs that attack our products or otherwise exploit any security vulnerabilities of our products, or attempt to fraudulently induce our employees, consumers, or others to disclose passwords or other sensitive information or unwittingly provide access to our systems or data. In addition, sophisticated hardware and operating system software and applications that we produce or procure from third parties may contain defects in design or manufacture, including “bugs” and other problems that could unexpectedly interfere with the operation of the system. We may need to expend significant resources to protect against security breaches or to investigate and address problems caused by cyber or other security problems.  

We may be unable to proactively address these techniques or to implement adequate preventive measures and our efforts to address these problems may not be successful and could result in interruptions, delays, cessation of service and loss of existing or potential customers that may impede our sales, manufacturing, distribution or other critical functions. Failure to adequately protect against attacks or intrusions, whether for our own systems or systems of vendors, could expose us to security breaches that could have an adverse impact on our financial performance.  The costs of enhancing infrastructure to attain improved stability and redundancy may be time consuming and expensive and may require resources and expertise that are difficult to obtain. In addition, to the extent that we do experience a data breach, remediation may be costly and we may not have adequate insurance to cover such costs.

Much of our business is conducted with third party marketing affiliates or, to a lesser degree, through business partners powering our instant booking feature. A security breach at such third party could be perceived by consumers as a security breach of our systems and could result in negative publicity or damage our reputation, expose us to risk of loss or litigation and possible liability and subject us to regulatory penalties and sanctions. In addition, such incidents may also result in a decline in our active user base or engagement levels.  Finally, failure of such third parties to comply with applicable disclosure requirements could expose us to liability.

We have acquired a number of companies over the years and may continue to do so in the future. As a result of these acquisitions, we may increase the volume of personal data that we collect, store, process and transmit.  While we make significant efforts to address any information technology security issues and personal data protection issues with respect to our acquisitions, we may still inherit such risks when we integrate the acquired businesses.

Media coverage of data breaches has escalated, in part because of the increased number of enforcement actions, investigations and lawsuits. Security breaches could result in negative publicity, damage to reputation, exposure to risk of loss or litigation and possible liability due to regulatory penalties and sanctions. As this focus and attention on privacy and data protection increases, we also risk exposure to potential liabilities and costs resulting from the compliance with, or any failure to comply with, applicable legal requirements, conflicts among these legal requirements or differences in approaches to privacy and security. Security breaches could also cause travelers and

 

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potential consumers to lose confidence in our data security, which would have a negative effect on the value of our brand.

"Cookie" laws could negatively impact the way we do business.

 

A "cookie" is a text file that is stored on a user's web browser by a website. Cookies are common tools used by thousands of websites, including ours, to, among other things, store or gather information (e.g., remember log-on details so a user does not have to re-enter them when revisiting a website), market to consumers and enhance the user experience on a website. Cookies are valuable tools for websites like ours to improve the customer experience and increase conversion on their websites. Many countries have adopted regulations governing the use of "cookies" by websites servicing consumers, especially in the European Union. To the extent any such regulations require "opt-in" consent before certain cookies can be placed on a user's web browser, our ability to serve certain customers in the manner we currently do, including with respect to retargeting of advertising, might be adversely affected and our ability to continue to improve and optimize performance on our websites might be impaired, either of which could negatively affect a consumer's experience using our services and our business, market share and results of operations.

 

Risks Related to the Financial and Tax Matters

We may have future capital needs and may not be able to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms.

We are currently party to a credit agreement with respect to a $1.2 billion revolving credit facility maturing in May 2022 (as more fully discussed below, the “2015 Credit Facility”). This agreement includes restrictive covenants that may impact the way we manage our business and may limit our ability to secure significant additional financing in the future on favorable terms. Our ability to secure additional financing and satisfy our financial obligations outstanding from time to time will depend upon our future operating performance, which is subject to then prevailing general economic and credit market conditions, including interest rate levels and the availability of credit generally, and financial, business and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. There can be no assurance that sufficient financing will be available or desirable, or even any, terms to fund investments, acquisitions, stock repurchases, dividends, debt refinancing or extraordinary actions or that counterparties in any such financings would honor their contractual commitments.

We have indebtedness which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.

At December 31, 2018, we had no outstanding long-term debt; however, we continue to have existing credit facilities from which we can borrow significant amounts.  As such, we are still subject to risks relating to our indebtedness that include:

 

Increasing our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions;

 

Requiring us to dedicate a portion of our cash flow from operations to principal and interest payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and investments and other general corporate purposes;

 

Making it more difficult for us to optimally capitalize and manage the cash flow for our businesses;

 

Limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our businesses and the markets in which we operate;

 

Possibly placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt;

 

Limiting our ability to borrow additional funds or to borrow funds at rates or on other terms that we find acceptable; and

 

Exposing us to the risk of increased interest rates because our outstanding debt is expected to be subject to variable rates of interest.

 

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In addition, it is possible that we may need to incur additional indebtedness in the future in the ordinary course of business. The terms of our 2015 Credit Facility allow us to incur additional debt subject to certain limitations; however, there is no assurance that additional financing will be available to us on terms favorable to us, if at all. In addition, if new debt is added to the then existing debt levels, the risks described above could intensify.

Our 2015 Credit Facility provides for various provisions that limit our discretion in the operation of our business and require us to meet financial maintenance tests and other covenants and the failure to comply with their covenants could have a material adverse effect on us.

We are party to a credit agreement providing for our 2015 Credit Facility. The agreements that govern the 2015 Credit Facility contain various covenants, including those that limit our ability to, among other things:

 

Incur indebtedness;

 

Pay dividends on, redeem or repurchase our capital stock;

 

Enter into certain asset sale transactions, including partial or full spin-off transactions;

 

Enter into secured financing arrangements;

 

Enter into sale and leaseback transactions; and

 

Enter into unrelated businesses.

These covenants may limit our ability to optimally operate our business. In addition, our 2015 Credit Facility requires that we meet certain financial tests, including a leverage ratio test. Any failure to comply with the restrictions of our credit facility may result in an event of default under the agreements governing such facility. Such default may allow the creditors to accelerate the debt incurred thereunder. In addition, lenders may be able to terminate any commitments they had made to supply us with further funds (including periodic rollovers of existing borrowings).

Our financial results will fluctuate from quarter to quarter and are difficult to predict.

Our quarterly financial results have fluctuated in the past and will likely fluctuate in the future.  Additionally, we have limited operating history with the current scale of our business, which means it is difficult to forecast our financial results.  As a result, you should not rely upon our quarterly financial results as indicators of future performance.  Our financial results in any given quarter can be influenced by numerous factors, many of which we are unable to predict or are outside of our control, including:

 

Our ability to maintain and grow our user base and to increase user engagement;

 

Increase in marketing, sales and other operation expenses that we will incur to grow and expand our operations and to remain competitive;

 

Fluctuations in the marketing spend of our travel partners due to seasonality, episodic global or regional events or other factors;

 

The pricing of our ads and other products;

 

User behavior or product changes that may reduce traffic to features or products that we successfully monetize;

 

System failure or outages, which would prevent us from serving ads for any period of time;

 

Breaches of security or privacy and the costs associated with any such breaches and remediation;

 

Fees paid to third parties for content or promotion of our products and services;

 

Adverse litigation judgments, settlement or other litigation related costs;

 

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Changes in the legislative or regulatory environment, including with respect to privacy and data protection, or engagement by government regulators, including final orders or consent decrees;

 

The impact of changes in tax laws, which are recorded in the period enacted and may significantly affect our effective income tax rates;

 

Tax obligations that may arise from resolutions of tax examinations, including the examinations we are currently under that may materially differ from the amounts we have anticipated;

 

Fluctuations in currency exchange rates and changes in the proportion of our revenue and expenses denominated in foreign currencies;

 

Changes in U.S. generally accepted accounting principles;  and

 

Changes in global business and macroeconomic conditions.

If we are unable to successfully maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in our reported financial information and our stock price and business may be adversely impacted.

As a public company, we are required to maintain internal control over financial reporting and our management is required to evaluate the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of the end of each fiscal year. Additionally, we are required to disclose in our Annual Reports on Form 10-K our management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and a registered public accounting firm’s attestation report on this assessment. If we are not successful in maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, there could be inaccuracies or omissions in the consolidated financial information we are required to file with the SEC. Additionally, even if there are no inaccuracies or omissions, we could be required to publicly disclose the conclusion of our management that our internal control over financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures are not effective. These events could cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, adversely impact our stock price, result in increased costs to remediate any deficiencies, attract regulatory scrutiny or lawsuits that could be costly to resolve and distract management’s attention, limit our ability to access the capital markets or cause our stock to be delisted from NASDAQ or any other securities exchange on which we are then listed.

Our effective income tax rate is impacted by a number of factors that could have a material impact on our financial results and could increase the volatility of those results.

Due to the global nature of our business, we are subject to income taxes in the United States and other foreign jurisdictions. In the event we incur net income in certain jurisdictions but incur losses in other jurisdictions, we generally cannot offset the income from one jurisdiction with the loss from another. This lack of flexibility increases our effective income tax rate. Furthermore, significant judgment is required to calculate our worldwide provision for income taxes and depends on our ability to operate our business in a manner consistent with our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements. In the ordinary course of our business there are many transactions and calculations where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain.

We believe our tax estimates are reasonable. However, we are routinely under audit by federal, state and foreign taxing authorities. The taxing authorities of jurisdictions in which we operate may challenge our methodologies for valuing developed technology or intercompany arrangements, including our transfer pricing, or determine that the manner in which we operate our business does not achieve the intended tax consequences, which would increase our effective income tax rate and harm our financial position and results of operations. As we operate in numerous taxing jurisdictions, the application of tax laws can also be subject to diverging and sometimes conflicting interpretations by taxing authorities of these jurisdictions. It is not uncommon for taxing authorities of different countries to have conflicting views, for instance, with respect to, among other things, the manner in which the arm’s length standard is applied for transfer pricing purposes, or with respect to the valuation of intellectual property. For example, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (the “OECD”) has recently recommended changes to numerous long-standing international tax principles. If countries amend their tax laws to adopt certain parts of the OECD guidelines, this may increase tax uncertainty and may adversely impact our tax liabilities. Any of these changes could affect our financial performance.

 

27


 

The final determination of audits could be materially different from our income tax provisions and accruals and could have a material effect on our financial position, results of operations, or cash flows in the period or periods for which that determination is made. Also, our future effective income tax rates could be affected by changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in valuation of deferred tax assets or changes in tax laws or their interpretation.  If our effective income tax rates were to increase, our results of operations and cash flows would be adversely affected.

The income tax effects of the accounting for share-based compensation may significantly impact our effective income tax rate. In periods in which our stock price is higher than the grant-date price of the share-based compensation awards vesting in that period, we will recognize excess tax benefits that will decrease our effective income tax rate. In periods in which our stock price is lower than the grant-date price of the share-based compensation awards vesting in that period, our effective income tax rate will increase.

Additionally, we continue to accumulate positive cash flow in foreign jurisdictions, which we consider indefinitely reinvested, although we will continue to evaluate the impact of the 2017 Tax Act on our capital deployment within and outside the U.S. Any repatriation of funds currently held in foreign jurisdictions may result in withholding taxes and state taxes.

Application of U.S. state and local or international tax laws, changes in tax laws or tax rulings, or the examination of our tax positions, could materially affect our financial position and results of operations.

As an international business, we are subject to incomes taxes and non-income-based taxes in the United States and various other international jurisdictions.  Tax laws are dynamic and subject to change as new laws are passed and new interpretations of the law are issued or applied. Our existing corporate structure and intercompany arrangements have been implemented in a manner we believe is in compliance with current prevailing tax laws. However, due to economic and political conditions, tax rates and tax regimes in various jurisdictions may be subject to significant change and the tax benefits that we intend to eventually derive could be undermined due to changing tax laws. Governments are increasingly focused on ways to increase tax revenues, which has contributed to an increase in audit activity, more aggressive positions taken by tax authorities and an increase in tax legislation.  Any such additional taxes or other assessments may be in excess of our current tax provisions or may require us to modify our business practices in order to reduce our exposure to additional taxes going forward, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.  

The 2017 Tax Act has resulted in significant changes to the U.S. corporate income tax system. The 2017 Tax Act requires complex computations to be performed that were not previously required in U.S. tax law, significant judgments to be made in interpretation of the provisions of the 2017 Tax Act, significant estimates in calculations, and the preparation and analysis of information not previously relevant or regularly produced. The tax law changes by the 2017 Tax Act are broad and complex and there are still uncertainties about how the 2017 Tax Act will be interpreted at both the U.S. federal and state levels.  The U.S. Treasury Department, the IRS and other standard-setting bodies could interpret or issue guidance on how provisions of the 2017 Tax Act will be applied or otherwise administered that is different from our interpretation.   This could materially change the taxes that we recorded in 2017 and 2018, and the expected future impact of the 2017 Tax Act on our business.  

On January 28, 2016, the European Commission unveiled a new package of proposals aimed at providing a framework for fairer taxation and to provide a coordinated European Union response to combating corporate tax avoidance. Following agreement among the European Union member states on the final content of the package, the European Council formally adopted an Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive in July 2016, which was further amended in February 2017. The Directive is aimed at preventing aggressive tax planning, increasing tax transparency and creating a fairer tax environment for all businesses in the European Union. The OECD is working towards a consensus-based solution to the challenges of the digitalization of the economy by 2020. In addition, on March 21, 2018, the European Commission released two draft directives on the Taxation of the Digital Economy. One directive aims at a more comprehensive solution whereby EU states would be able to levy corporate income tax on companies that have digital presence in those states regardless of whether they have a physical presence in those states. The second directive provides for an interim solution whereby EU States are to apply a 3% revenue based Digital Services Tax, which if enacted, would be effective beginning in 2020. In the interim, certain EU States (Austria,

 

28


 

France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the United Kingdom) have proposed legislation to implement a Digital Services Tax that, if enacted, would impose a tax on revenue earned by larger companies from users of digital services located in these respective EU States as early as 2019. Any changes to international tax laws, including new definitions of permanent establishment, could affect the tax treatment of our foreign earnings and adversely impact our effective income tax rate. Further, changes to tax laws and additional reporting requirements could increase the complexity, burden and cost of compliance. Due to the large and expanding scale of our international business activities, any changes in U.S. or international taxation of our activities or the combined effect of tax laws in multiple jurisdictions may increase our worldwide effective income tax rate, increase the complexity and costs associated with tax compliance (especially if changes are implemented or interpreted inconsistently across tax jurisdictions) and adversely affect our cash flows and results of operations.

In addition, the taxing authorities in the United States and other jurisdictions where we do business regularly examine our income and other tax returns as well as the tax returns of Expedia, our former parent. The ultimate outcome of these examinations (including the IRS audit described below) cannot be predicted with certainty. Should the IRS or other taxing authorities assess additional taxes as a result of examinations, we may be required to record charges to our operations, which could harm our operating results and financial condition. 

In July 2015, the United States Tax Court issued an opinion favorable to Altera Corporation, accepting Altera’s position of excluding stock-based compensation from its intercompany cost-sharing arrangement. The IRS subsequently appealed the Court decision on February 19, 2016.  On July 24, 2018, the IRS won an appeals court case at the Ninth Circuit, however, on August 7, 2018, the Ninth Circuit withdrew its decision regarding Altera and the case was reheard. While we have recorded an income tax benefit based on the Court’s 2015 opinion, we may be required to reverse the income tax benefit if an unfavorable opinion is issued by the Court when the case is reheard.

 

Changes in tax treatment of companies engaged in e-commerce may adversely affect the commercial use of our sites and our financial results.

 

Due to the global nature of the internet, it is possible that various states or foreign countries might attempt to levy additional or new sales, income or other taxes relating to our activities. Tax authorities at the international, federal, state and local levels are currently reviewing the appropriate treatment of companies engaged in e-commerce. New or revised international, federal, state or local tax regulations or court decisions may subject us or our customers to additional sales, occupancy, income and other taxes. For example, Congress is considering various approaches to legislation that would require companies engaged in e-commerce to collect sales tax on internet revenue and a growing number of U.S. states and certain foreign jurisdictions have adopted or are considering proposals to impose obligations on remote sellers and online marketplaces to collect taxes on their behalf. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc., in which a Court reversed longstanding precedent that remote sellers are not required to collect state and local sales taxes, may have an adverse impact on our business. We cannot predict the effect of these and other attempts to impose sales, income or other taxes on e-commerce. New or revised taxes and, in particular, sales taxes, occupancy taxes, value added taxes (“VAT”) and similar taxes would likely increase the cost of doing business online and decrease the attractiveness of selling products and services over the Internet. New taxes could also create significant increases in internal costs necessary to capture data and collect and remit taxes. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.

 

Taxing authorities may successfully assert that we should have collected or in the future should collect sales and use, occupancy, VAT or similar taxes, and we could be subject to liability with respect to past or future sales, which could adversely affect our operating results.

 

We do not collect and remit sales and use, occupancy, VAT or similar taxes in all jurisdictions in which we have sales, based on our belief that such taxes are not applicable or legally required. Several states and other taxing jurisdictions have presented or threatened us with assessments, alleging that we are required to collect and remit certain taxes there. While we do not believe that we are subject to such taxes and intend to vigorously defend our position in these cases, we cannot be sure of the outcome of our discussions and/or appeals with these states or cases that are pending in the courts. In the event of an adverse outcome, we could face assessments for additional time periods since the last assessments we received, plus any additional interest and penalties. We also expect additional jurisdictions may make similar assessments or pass similar new laws in the future, and any of the jurisdictions where

 

29


 

we have sales may apply more rigorous enforcement efforts or take more aggressive positions in the future that could result in greater tax liability allegations. Such tax assessments, penalties and interest or future requirements may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.

 

We continue to be subject to significant potential tax liabilities in connection with the Spin-Off.

Under the Tax Sharing Agreement between us and Expedia entered into in connection with the Spin-Off, we are generally required to indemnify Expedia for any taxes resulting from the Spin-Off (and any related interest, penalties, legal and professional fees, and all costs and damages associated with related stockholder litigation or controversies) to the extent such amounts resulted from (i) any act or failure to act by us described in the covenants in the tax sharing agreement, (ii) any acquisition of our equity securities or assets or those of a member of our group, or (iii) any failure of the representations with respect to us or any member of our group to be true or any breach by us or any member of our group of any covenant, in each case, which is contained in the separation documents or in the documents relating to the IRS private letter ruling and/or the opinion of counsel.

We continue to be responsible for potential tax liabilities in connection with consolidated income tax returns filed with Expedia prior to or in connection with the Spin-Off. By virtue of previously filed consolidated tax returns with Expedia, we are currently under IRS audit for the 2009, 2010, and short-period 2011 tax years. In connection with that audit, we received, in January 2017, notices of proposed adjustment from the IRS for the 2009 and 2010 tax years, which would result in an increase in our worldwide income tax expense. The proposed adjustments would result in an increase to our worldwide income tax expense in an estimated range totaling $10 million to $14 million for those specific years after consideration of competent authority relief, exclusive of interest and penalties. We are also subject to various ongoing state income tax audits. The outcome of these matters or any other audits could subject us to significant tax liabilities.

We are subject to fluctuation in foreign currency exchange risk.

We conduct a significant and growing portion of our business outside the United States but report our results in U.S. dollars. As a result, we face exposure to movements in foreign currency exchange rates, particularly those related to the Euro, British pound, and Australian dollar. These exposures include, but are not limited to, re-measurement of gains and losses from changes in the value of foreign denominated assets and liabilities; translation gains and losses on foreign subsidiary financial results that are translated into U.S. dollars upon consolidation; and planning risk related to changes in exchange rates between the time we prepare our annual and quarterly forecasts and when actual results occur. For example, Brexit caused significant volatility in currency exchange rates, especially between the U.S. dollar and the British pound. Continued uncertainty regarding Brexit may result in future exchange rate volatility. In addition, in the event that one or more European countries were to replace the Euro with another currency, our sales into such countries, or into Europe generally, would likely be adversely affected until stable exchange rates are established. Accordingly, fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates, such as the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against the Euro or the British pound, could adversely affect our net revenue growth in future periods.

Depending on the size of the exposures and the relative movements of exchange rates, if we were to choose not to hedge or were to fail to hedge effectively our exposure, we could experience a material adverse effect on our financial statements and financial condition. As seen in some recent periods, in the event of severe volatility in exchange rates the impact of these exposures can increase, and the impact on results of operations can be more pronounced. In addition, the current environment and the increasingly global nature of our business have made hedging these exposures both more complex. We hedge certain short-term foreign currency exposures with the purchase of forward exchange contracts. These forward exchange contracts only help mitigate the impact of changes in foreign currency rates that occur during the term of the related contract period and carry risks of counter-party failure. There can be no assurance that our forward exchange contracts will have their intended effects.

Significant fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates can affect consumer travel behavior. Volatility in foreign currency exchange rates and its impact on consumer behavior, which may differ across regions, makes it more difficult to forecast industry and consumer trends and the timing and degree of their impact on our markets and

 

30


 

business, which in turn could adversely affect our ability to effectively manage our business and adversely affect our results of operations.

Risks Related to Ownership of our Common Stock

Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc. currently is a controlling stockholder.

Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc., or LTRIP, effectively controls the outcome of all matters submitted to a vote or for the consent of our stockholders (other than with respect to the election by the holders of our common stock of 25% of the members of our Board of Directors and matters as to which Delaware law requires separate class votes), including but not limited to, corporate transactions such as mergers, business combinations or dispositions of assets, the authorization or issuance of new equity or debt securities and determinations with respect to our business direction and policies. Our Chairman Gregory Maffei and one of our Directors Albert Rosenthaler also serve as officers and directors of LTRIP. LTRIP may have interests that differ from those of our other stockholders and they may vote in a way with which our other stockholders may not agree or that may be adverse to other stockholders’ interests. LTRIP is not restricted from investing in other businesses involving or related to our business. LTRIP’s control of us, as well as the existing provisions of our organizational documents and Delaware law, may discourage or prevent a change of control that might otherwise be beneficial, which may reduce the market price of our common stock.

The market price and trading volume of our common stock may be volatile and may face negative pressure.

Our stock price has experienced, and could continue to experience in the future, substantial volatility. The market price of our common stock is affected by a number of factors, including the risk factors described in this section and other factors beyond our control. Factors affecting the trading price of our common stock could include:

 

Quarterly variations in our or our competitors’ results of operations;

 

Changes in earnings estimates or recommendations by securities analysts;

 

Failure to meet market expectations;

 

The announcement of new products or product enhancements by us or our competitors;

 

Repurchases of our common stock pursuant to our share repurchase program which could also cause our stock price to be higher than it would be in the absence of such a program and could potentially reduce the market liquidity for our stock;

 

Developments in our industry, including changes in governmental regulations; and

 

General market conditions and other factors, including factors related to our operating performance or the operating performance of our competitors.

Furthermore, the stock markets have experienced price and volume fluctuations that have affected and continue to affect the market prices of equity securities of many companies. These fluctuations often have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. These broad market and industry fluctuations and general economic, political and market conditions, such as recessions, interest rate changes or foreign currency exchange fluctuations, may negatively impact the market price of our common stock regardless of our actual operating performance.

We are currently relying on the “controlled company” exemption under NASDAQ Stock Market Listing Rules, pursuant to which “controlled companies” are exempt from certain corporate governance requirements otherwise applicable under NASDAQ listing rules.

 

31


 

The NASDAQ Stock Market Listing Rules exempt “controlled companies,” or companies of which more than 50% of the voting power is held by an individual, a group or another company, from certain corporate governance requirements, including those requirements that:

 

A majority of the Board of Directors consist of independent directors;

 

Compensation of officers be determined or recommended to the Board of Directors by a majority of its independent directors or by a compensation committee comprised solely of independent directors; and

 

Director nominees be selected or recommended to the Board of Directors by a majority of its independent directors or by a nominating committee that is composed entirely of independent directors.

We currently rely on the controlled company exemption for certain of the above requirements. Accordingly, our stockholders will not be afforded the same protections generally as stockholders of other NASDAQ-listed companies with respect to corporate governance for so long as we rely on these exemptions from the corporate governance requirements.

We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future and, as a result, our stockholders’ ability to achieve a return on their investment will depend on appreciation in the price of our common stock.

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock and do not intend to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future.  We anticipate that we will retain all of our future earnings for use in the development of our business and for general corporate purposes. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our board of directors. Accordingly, investors must rely on sales of their common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur, as the only way to realize future gains on their investments.  

Future sales of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that such sales may occur, may depress our stock price.

Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, particularly sales by our directors, officers, employees and significant stockholders, or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of our common stock and could impact our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities.  In addition, certain stockholders have rights, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering their shares or to include their shares in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other stockholders. If LTRIP or some other stockholder sells substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, or if there is a perception in the public market that LTRIP might sell shares of our common stock, the market price of our common stock could decrease significantly. A decline in the price of shares of our common stock might impede our ability to raise capital through the issuance of additional shares of our common stock or other equity securities.

Anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents and Delaware law may discourage or prevent a change of control, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our stockholders, which could affect our stock price adversely and prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws contain provisions that could delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our Board of Directors that our stockholders might consider favorable. These provisions include:

 

Authorization and issuance of Class B common stock that entitles holders to ten votes per share;

 

Authorization of the issuance of preferred stock which can be created and issued by the Board of Directors without prior stockholder approval, with rights senior to those of our common stock;

 

Prohibiting our stockholders from filling board vacancies or calling special stockholder meetings; and

 

Limiting who may call special meetings of stockholders.

 

32


 

We are subject to the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which may prohibit certain business combinations with stockholders owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock. These and other provisions in our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and Delaware law could make it more difficult for stockholders or potential acquirers to obtain control of our Board of Directors or initiate actions that are opposed by our then-current Board of Directors, including a merger, tender offer or proxy contest involving our company. Any delay or prevention of a change of control transaction or changes in our Board of Directors could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.  

 

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

None.

Item 2.

Properties

We currently lease approximately 280,000 square feet for our corporate headquarters in Needham, Massachusetts, pursuant to a lease with an expiration date of December 2030, with an option to extend the lease term for two consecutive terms of five years each. We also lease an aggregate of approximately 450,000 square feet of office space at approximately 40 other locations across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, in cities such as, New York, Boston, London, Sydney, Barcelona, Paris, and Beijing, primarily for our sales offices, subsidiary headquarters, and international management teams, pursuant to leases with various expiration dates, with the latest expiring in June 2027. We believe that our current facilities are adequate for our current operations and that additional leased space can be obtained on reasonable terms if needed. We do not legally own any real estate as of December 31, 2018.

Refer to “Note 14: Commitments and Contingencies” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further information on our corporate headquarters and other property leases.

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

In the ordinary course of business, we are parties to legal proceedings and claims involving alleged infringement of third-party intellectual property rights, defamation, taxes, regulatory compliance and other claims. Rules and regulations promulgated by the SEC require the description of material pending legal proceedings, other than ordinary, routine litigation incident to the registrant’s business, and advise that proceedings ordinarily need not be described if they primarily involve damages claims for amounts (exclusive of interest and costs) not individually exceeding 10% of the current assets of the registrant and its subsidiaries on a consolidated basis. In the judgment of management, none of the pending litigation matters that we are defending involves or is likely to involve amounts of that magnitude. There may be claims or actions pending or threatened against us of which we are currently not aware and the ultimate disposition of which could have a material adverse effect on us.

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

 

 

PART II

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Market Information

Our common stock is quoted on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “TRIP.” On February 14, 2019, the closing price of our common stock reported on NASDAQ was $57.76 per share. Our Class B common stock is not listed and there is no established public trading market for that security. As of February 14, 2019, all of our Class B common stock was held by LTRIP.

 

33


 

Performance Comparison Graph

The following graph provides a comparison of the total stockholder return from December 31, 2013 to December 31, 2018, of an investment of $100 in cash on December 31, 2013 for TripAdvisor, Inc. common stock and an investment of $100 in cash on December 31, 2013 for (i) the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index (the “S&P 500 Index”), (ii) the NASDAQ Composite Index, and (iii) the Research Data Group (“RDG”) Internet Composite Index. The RDG Internet Composite Index is an index of stocks representing the internet industry, including internet software and service companies and e-commerce companies. The stock price performance shown on the graph below is not necessarily indicative of future price performance. Data for the S&P 500 Index, the NASDAQ Composite Index, and the RDG Internet Composite Index assume reinvestment of dividends. We have never paid dividends on our common stock.

 

This performance comparison graph is not “soliciting material,” is not deemed filed with the SEC and is not deemed to be incorporated by reference by any general statement incorporating by reference this Annual Report on Form 10-K into any filing of TripAdvisor, Inc. under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), or any filing under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), except to the extent that we specifically request that the information be treated as soliciting material or specifically incorporate this information by reference into any such filing, and will not otherwise be deemed incorporated by reference into any other filing under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate it by reference.

 

34


 

Holders of Record

As of February 14, 2019, there were 125,336,213 outstanding shares of our common stock held by 2,220 stockholders of record, and 12,799,999 outstanding shares of our Class B common stock held by one stockholder of record: LTRIP.

Dividends

We have never declared or paid dividends and do not expect to pay any dividends for the foreseeable future. Our ability to pay dividends is also limited by the terms of our 2015 Credit Facility. Refer to “Note 10: Debt” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information regarding this revolving credit facility. Any future determination as to the declaration and payment of dividends, if any, will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on then-existing conditions, including our financial condition, operating results, contractual restrictions, capital requirements, business prospects and other factors our Board of Directors may deem relevant.

Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities

During the year ended December 31, 2018, we did not issue or sell any shares of our common stock, Class B common stock or other equity securities pursuant to unregistered transactions in reliance upon an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

On January 31, 2018, TripAdvisor’s Board of Directors authorized up to $250 million of share repurchases. Our Board of Directors authorized and directed management, working with the Executive Committee of our Board of Directors, to affect the share repurchase program in compliance with applicable legal requirements. This repurchase program has no expiration date but may be suspended or terminated by the Board of Directors at any time.

A summary of information about our common stock repurchases during the fourth quarter of 2018 is set forth in the table below:

Period

 

Total Number of Shares Purchased

 

 

Average Price Paid per Share

 

 

Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs

 

 

Maximum Number (or Approximate Dollar Value) of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs

 

October 1 to October 31

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

$

 

150,000,033

 

November 1 to November 30

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

 

150,000,033

 

December 1 to December 31

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

$

 

150,000,033

 

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31, 2018, we have repurchased a total of 2,582,198 shares of outstanding common stock under this share repurchase program for an aggregate cost of $100 million, or an average price of $38.73 per share, exclusive of fees and commissions. Refer to “Note 16: Stockholders’ Equity” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 for additional information regarding our share repurchase program and share repurchases.

 

 

 

35


 

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

We have derived the following selected financial data presented below from our consolidated financial statements and related notes. The information set forth below is not necessarily indicative of future results and should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes appearing in Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” and Item 7 “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected in any future period.

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

 

(in millions, except per share data)

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue

 

$

1,615

 

 

$

1,556

 

 

$

1,480

 

 

$

1,492

 

 

$

1,246

 

Total costs and expenses

 

 

1,432

 

 

 

1,432

 

 

 

1,314

 

 

 

1,260

 

 

 

906

 

Operating income (1)

 

 

183

 

 

 

124

 

 

 

166

 

 

 

232

 

 

 

340

 

Income before income taxes

 

 

173

 

 

 

110

 

 

 

151

 

 

 

239

 

 

 

322

 

Net income (loss) (2)

 

 

113

 

 

 

(19

)

 

 

120

 

 

 

198

 

 

 

226

 

Earnings (loss) per share attributable to common stockholders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic (3)

 

$

0.82

 

 

$

(0.14

)

 

$

0.83

 

 

$

1.38

 

 

$

1.58

 

Diluted (3)

 

 

0.81

 

 

 

(0.14

)

 

 

0.82

 

 

 

1.36

 

 

 

1.55

 

Shares used in computing net income per share:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic (3)

 

 

138

 

 

 

140

 

 

 

145

 

 

 

144

 

 

 

143

 

Diluted (3)

 

 

140

 

 

 

140

 

 

 

147

 

 

 

146

 

 

 

146

 

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

 

(in millions)

 

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents, short and long-term

   marketable securities

 

$

670

 

 

$

735

 

 

$

746

 

 

$

698

 

 

$

594

 

Working capital (4)

 

 

522

 

 

 

621

 

 

 

527

 

 

 

553

 

 

 

356

 

Total assets

 

 

2,167

 

 

 

2,272

 

 

 

2,238

 

 

 

2,128

 

 

 

1,948

 

Long-term debt (5)

 

 

-

 

 

 

230

 

 

 

91

 

 

 

200

 

 

 

259

 

Other long-term obligations under financing obligation

 

 

83

 

 

 

84

 

 

 

84

 

 

 

84

 

 

 

67

 

Total liabilities (2)

 

 

696

 

 

 

909

 

 

 

736

 

 

 

716

 

 

 

823

 

Total stockholders’ equity (6)

 

 

1,471

 

 

 

1,363

 

 

 

1,502

 

 

 

1,412

 

 

 

1,125

 

 

(1)

Includes a non-cash charitable contribution expense to The TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation (the “Foundation”) of $67 million for the year ended December 31, 2015, which was recorded to general and administrative expense in our consolidated statement of operations. In comparison, charitable contributions to the Foundation, which were paid in cash, were $8 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. There were no charitable contributions made to the Foundation during any period after December 31, 2015, and the Company does not expect to make any future contributions to the Foundation.

(2)

The year ended December 31, 2017 reflects $67 million of tax expense recorded for the mandatory deemed repatriation of accumulative foreign earnings which was included in the short and long-term income tax liabilities on our consolidated balance sheet, and $6 million of tax expense recorded for the remeasurement of deferred taxes related to the 2017 Tax Act enacted on December 22, 2017, of which $31 million remained unpaid as of December 31, 2018. Refer to “Note 11: Income Taxes” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form10-K for further information on the financial statement impact of the 2017 Tax Act.

(3)

Refer to “Note 5: Earnings per Share in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further information regarding our calculation of earnings per share numbers.

 

36


 

(4)

Amount does not include available for sale long-term marketable securities of $27 million, $16 million, $37 million and $31 million, as of December 31, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014, respectively.

(5)

Refer to “Note 10: Debt” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K for information regarding our long-term debt.

(6)

Refer to our consolidated statements of changes in stockholders’ equity and “Note 16: Stockholders’ Equity” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information on changes to our stockholders’ equity.

 

 

Item 7.Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

Overview

TripAdvisor is an online travel company and our mission is to help people around the world to plan, book and experience the perfect trip. We seek to achieve our mission by providing consumers and travel partners a global platform with rich consumer-generated content, price comparison tools and online reservation and related services for destinations, accommodations, travel activities and experiences, and restaurants.

TripAdvisor, Inc., by and through its subsidiaries, owns and operates a portfolio of leading online travel brands. Our flagship brand, TripAdvisor, is the world’s largest travel site based on average monthly unique visitors, which reached 490 million in our seasonal peak during the year ended December 31, 2018, according to our internal log files. Our TripAdvisor-branded websites include www.tripadvisor.com in the United States and localized versions of the TripAdvisor website in 48 markets and 28 languages worldwide. TripAdvisor features approximately 730 million reviews and opinions on approximately 8.1 million places to stay, places to eat and things to do – including 1.3 million hotels, inns, B&Bs and specialty lodging, 875,000 rental properties, 4.9 million restaurants and 1.0 million travel activities and experiences worldwide. We also enable consumers to compare prices and/or book a number of these travel experiences on either a TripAdvisor website or mobile app, or on the website or mobile app of one of our travel partners.

In addition to the flagship TripAdvisor brand, we manage and operate other travel media brands, connected by the common goal of providing consumers the most comprehensive travel-planning and trip-taking resources in the travel industry. For additional information about our portfolio of brands and our business model, see the disclosure set forth in Part I, Item 1. “Business”, under the caption “Overview.”

Our reporting structure includes two reportable segments: Hotel and Non-Hotel. Our Non-Hotel reportable segment consists of our Experiences, Restaurants and Rentals offerings. During the first quarter of 2018, we renamed Attractions as “Experiences” and Vacation Rentals as “Rentals.” These changes had no impact on the composition of our segments or on any financial information. Financial information and additional descriptive information related to our segments is contained in “Note 18: Segment and Geographic Information” and “Note 4: Revenue Recognition,” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K and below.

Executive Financial Summary and Business Trends

TripAdvisor is the world’s largest online travel site, as measured by average unique monthly visitors. As a result, TripAdvisor represents an attractive platform for travel partners—including hotel chains, independent hoteliers, OTAs, destination marketing organizations, and other travel-related and non-travel related product and service providers—who seek to market and sell their products and services to a global audience. Our platform and product offerings enable consumers to find, research and price shop and book a variety of travel products, including hotels, flights, cruises, rental properties, tours, travel activities and experiences, and restaurants either directly on our websites or mobile apps, or on our travel partners’ websites or mobile apps. Our financial results, current trends affecting our business and our segment information are provided below.

 

 

37


 

Business Trends 

The online travel industry in which we operate, is large and growing, and also remains highly dynamic and competitive.

Hotel Segment

Over the past year, we have focused on delivering a great product experience and optimizing our paid marketing investments and profit as we drive for long-term, profitable growth. Marketing optimizations have impacted revenue growth, but have successfully generated significant profit growth and margin expansion compared to 2017.

On the product side, we continue to make product enhancements that we believe deliver consumers a more engaging, and comprehensive, hotel shopping experience. Content on travel destinations, properties and room types continues to grow; and we continue to make it easier for consumers find the best room prices offered by our travel partners. We also continue to focus on increasing supply, and adding more properties from more travel partners. We believe that providing consumers a robust experience, with rich content and a comprehensive selection of accommodations helps increase brand awareness and brand loyalty, which, over time, can result in deeper consumer engagement with our platform, more qualified leads delivered to travel partners and higher monetization for our business.

 We seek to maximize revenue per hotel shopper generated in our Hotel segment. Revenue per hotel shopper performance improved throughout 2018 and increased 14% for the three months ended December 31, 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017, primarily due to metasearch auction stability throughout 2018 and progress along the aforementioned product enhancements and also marketing efforts, partially offset by the continued hotel shopper growth on mobile phone, which has a significantly lower revenue per hotel shopper compared to desktop and tablet.  

We look to acquire hotel shoppers that meet or exceed our desired marketing return on investment targets on paid online marketing channels. Since mid-2017, we progressively increased Hotel segment profits by significantly reducing investments in direct selling and marketing channels and re-investing some of the savings into brand advertising, or television advertising, in pursuit of our long-term strategic growth objectives. As expected, the optimized marketing mix, as well as product enhancements focused on increasing traffic quality, has caused hotel shopper growth to slow and decline in recent periods; however, our marketing portfolio optimizations reduced our total marketing expenses and increased both our Hotel segment Adjusted EBITDA and Hotel Adjusted EBITDA margin in 2018 as compared to 2017.

Consumers are increasingly using mobile phones to conduct ecommerce activity and mobile average monthly unique visitor growth continues to drive overall user growth on our platform. We continue to support investments and product enhancements that improve the consumer experience as opposed to maximizing the number of display advertising impressions we can sell in a given period. Historically, this preference has limited the number and type of display advertising opportunities we make available to customers, which, in turn, has hampered TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising revenue growth, particularly on mobile phone. However, we continue to explore product enhancements and media advertising products that can deliver increased value to both consumers and travel partners, as well as generate more revenue for our business.

Other Hotel revenue, which consists primarily of hotel revenue from non-TripAdvisor branded sites, has decreased in recent periods primarily due to increased marketing efficiency from paid online marketing channels, which has reduced revenue and improved Hotel segment profit. We have also taken certain steps to re-align operations within some of these other Hotel brands which have had a material adverse impact to revenue performance during 2018, while increasing Hotel segment profitability.

Non-Hotel Segment

TripAdvisor’s Non-Hotel offerings – Experiences, Restaurants and Rentals – enable consumers to discover and book great travel experiences across a diversified spectrum of travel offerings.

Our key priority in our Non-Hotel segment remains revenue growth. To achieve this, we continue to invest in product, supply and marketing to improve the experience for consumers and suppliers on our platform. We believe scaling and presenting a greater selection of offerings will deepen our relationships with consumers, will drive more bookings and marketing opportunities for more travel partners and will increase monetization on our platform.

 

38


 

During 2018, Non-Hotel revenue growth was driven by growth in consumer demand, bookable supply and bookings in our Experiences and Restaurants offerings. Rentals revenue declined primarily due to competition in the alternative accommodations marketplace as well as our strategic resource re-allocation within Non-Hotel to Experiences and Restaurants.

Tax Reform

The 2017 Tax Act was signed into law on December 22, 2017, and has resulted in significant changes to the U.S. corporate income tax system. These changes include a federal statutory rate reduction from 35% to 21%, the elimination or reduction of certain domestic deductions and credits and limitations on the deductibility of interest expense and executive compensation. The 2017 Tax Act also transitions international taxation from a worldwide system to a modified territorial system and includes base erosion prevention measures on non-U.S. earnings, which has the effect of subjecting certain earnings of our foreign subsidiaries to U.S. taxation as global intangible low-taxed income (“GILTI”). These changes were effective beginning January 1, 2018.

 

The 2017 Tax Act also includes a one-time mandatory deemed repatriation tax on accumulated foreign subsidiaries' previously untaxed foreign earnings (the “Transition Tax”). Changes in tax rates and tax laws are accounted for in the period of enactment. During the year ended December 31, 2017, we recorded a charge totaling $73 million related to our estimate at that time of the provisions of the 2017 Tax Act, principally due to the Transition Tax. The Transition Tax, recorded of $67 million, which will not accrue interest, will be paid over an eight-year period, of which $31 million remained unpaid at December 31, 2018. We also recorded a charge of $6 million for the remeasurement of our net deferred tax assets. These estimates as of December 31, 2017 were reflected in our financial results in accordance with Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 118 (“SAB 118"), which provided for a measurement period of one year to complete the accounting for certain elements of the tax reform. The impact of adjustments recorded during the measurement period by the Company during the year ended December 31, 2018 was not material. Refer to “Note 11: Income Taxes” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further information on the financial statement impact of the 2017 Tax Act.

 

 

39


 

Results of Operations

Selected Financial Data

(in millions, except per share amounts and percentages)

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2018 vs. 2017

 

 

2017 vs. 2016

 

Revenue

 

$

1,615

 

 

$

1,556

 

 

$

1,480

 

 

 

4

%

 

 

5

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue

 

 

86

 

 

 

72

 

 

 

71

 

 

 

19

%

 

 

1

%

Selling and marketing

 

 

778

 

 

 

849

 

 

 

756

 

 

 

(8

)%

 

 

12

%

Technology and content

 

 

275

 

 

 

243

 

 

 

243

 

 

 

13

%

 

 

0

%

General and administrative

 

 

177

 

 

 

157

 

 

 

143

 

 

 

13

%

 

 

10

%

Depreciation

 

 

82

 

 

 

79

 

 

 

69

 

 

 

4

%

 

 

14

%

Amortization of intangible assets

 

 

34

 

 

 

32

 

 

 

32

 

 

 

6

%

 

 

0

%

Total costs and expenses

 

 

1,432

 

 

 

1,432

 

 

 

1,314

 

 

 

0

%

 

 

9

%

Operating income

 

 

183

 

 

 

124

 

 

 

166

 

 

 

48

%

 

 

(25

)%

Other income (expense):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest expense

 

 

(12

)

 

 

(15

)

 

 

(12

)

 

 

(20

)%

 

 

25

%

Interest income and other, net

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

(3

)

 

 

100

%

 

n.m.

 

Total other income (expense), net

 

 

(10

)

 

 

(14

)

 

 

(15

)

 

 

(29

)%

 

 

(7

)%

Income before income taxes

 

 

173

 

 

 

110

 

 

 

151

 

 

 

57

%

 

 

(27

)%

Provision for income taxes

 

 

(60

)

 

 

(129

)

 

 

(31

)

 

 

(53

)%

 

 

316

%

Net income (loss)

 

$

113

 

 

$

(19

)

 

$

120

 

 

n.m.

 

 

n.m.

 

Earnings (loss) per share attributable to common stockholders:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

$

0.82

 

 

$

(0.14

)

 

$

0.83

 

 

n.m.

 

 

n.m.

 

Diluted

 

$

0.81

 

 

$

(0.14

)

 

$

0.82

 

 

n.m.

 

 

n.m.

 

Other financial data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusted EBITDA (1)

 

$

422

 

 

$

331

 

 

$

352

 

 

 

27

%

 

 

(6

)%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

n.m. = not meaningful

 

(1)See “Adjusted EBITDA” discussion below for more information.

 

 

Revenue and Segment Information

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2018 vs. 2017

 

 

2017 vs. 2016

 

Revenue by Segment:

 

(in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel

 

$

1,157

 

 

$

1,196

 

 

$

1,190

 

 

 

(3

)%

 

 

1

%

Non-Hotel

 

 

458

 

 

 

360

 

 

 

290

 

 

 

27

%

 

 

24

%

Total revenue

 

$

1,615

 

 

$

1,556

 

 

$

1,480

 

 

 

4

%

 

 

5

%

Adjusted EBITDA by Segment (1):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel

 

$

356

 

 

$

286

 

 

$

380

 

 

 

24

%

 

 

(25

)%

Non-Hotel

 

 

66

 

 

 

45

 

 

 

(28

)

 

 

47

%

 

n.m.

 

Adjusted EBITDA Margin by Segment (2):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel

 

 

31

%

 

 

24

%

 

 

32

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-Hotel

 

 

14

%

 

 

13

%

 

 

(10

)%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

n.m. = not meaningful

 

 

40


 

 

(1)

Included in Adjusted EBITDA is a general and administrative expense allocation for each segment, which is based on the segment’s percentage of our total personnel costs, excluding stock-based compensation. Refer to “Note 18: Segment and Geographic Information,” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K for more information.

 

(2)

We define “Adjusted EBITDA Margin by Segment”, as Adjusted EBITDA by segment divided by Revenue by segment.

Hotel Segment

Our Hotel segment revenue decreased $39 million during the year ended December 31, 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017, primarily due to a $34 million decrease in TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue and $21 million decrease in other Hotel revenue, partially offset by $16 million increase in TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising and subscription revenue, all of which are discussed below. Our Hotel segment revenue increased $6 million during the year ended December 31, 2017 when compared to the same period in 2016, primarily due to $6 million increase in TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue and $10 million increase in TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising and subscription revenue, partially offset by a decrease of $10 million in other Hotel revenue, all of which are discussed below.

Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA margin in our Hotel segment increased $70 million and to 31%, respectively, during the year ended December 31, 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017, primarily due to a decrease in our direct selling and marketing expenses related to SEM and other online paid traffic acquisition costs as we have continued to optimize and improve our marketing efficiency from our online marketing campaigns and, to a lesser extent, growth in our TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising and subscription revenue. Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA margin in our Hotel segment decreased $94 million and to 24%, respectively, during the year ended December 31, 2017 when compared to the same period in 2016, primarily due to costs related to our television campaign, which launched in June 2017, and also due to increased SEM and other online traffic acquisition costs during the first half of 2017, partially offset by cost savings created through optimization and improved marketing efficiencies of our online marketing campaigns during the second half of 2017.

The following is a detailed discussion of the revenue sources within our Hotel segment:

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2018 vs 2017

 

 

2017 vs 2016

 

Hotel:

 

(in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction

 

$

722

 

 

$

756

 

 

$

750

 

 

 

(4

%)

 

 

1

%

TripAdvisor-branded display-based advertising and subscription

 

 

308

 

 

 

292

 

 

 

282

 

 

 

5

%

 

 

4

%

Other Hotel revenue

 

 

127

 

 

 

148

 

 

 

158

 

 

 

(14

%)

 

 

(6

%)

Total Hotel revenue

 

$

1,157

 

 

$

1,196

 

 

$

1,190

 

 

 

(3

%)

 

 

1

%

 

TripAdvisor-branded Click-based and Transaction Revenue

TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue includes CPC-advertising revenue from our TripAdvisor-branded websites as well as transaction-based revenue from our hotel instant booking feature. For the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, 62%, 63% and 63%, respectively, of our Hotel segment revenue was derived from our TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue. TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue decreased $34 million or 4% during the year ended December 31, 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017, primarily due to a 4% decrease in our average monthly unique hotel shoppers as well as a 2% decrease in our revenue per hotel shopper during the year ended December 31, 2018, which is explained below. TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue increased $6 million or 1% during the year ended December 31, 2017 when compared to the same period in 2016, primarily due to an increase in our average monthly unique hotel shoppers of 10%, which was largely offset by a decrease of 9% in our revenue per hotel shopper during the year ended December 31, 2017, which is explained below.

Our largest source of Hotel segment revenue is click-based advertising revenue from our TripAdvisor-branded websites, which include links to our travel partners’ sites and contextually-relevant branded and related text links. Click-based advertising is generated primarily through our metasearch auction, a description of which follows. Our

 

41


 

click-based travel partners are predominantly OTAs and hoteliers. Click-based advertising is generally priced on a CPC basis, with payments to us from advertisers based on the number of consumer clicks on each type of link or, in other words, the conversion of a hotel shopper to a paid click. CPC is the price that a partner is willing to pay us for a hotel shopper lead, which is determined in a competitive process as partner CPC bids for rates and availability listed on our site are submitted. When a CPC bid is submitted, the partner agrees to pay us the bid amount each time a consumer clicks on the link to that partner’s website. Bids can be submitted periodically – as often as daily– on a property-by-property basis. Primary factors used to determine the placement of partner links on our site include, but are not limited to, nightly room rate, the size of the bid relative to other bids, and other variables. Hotel shoppers visiting via mobile phones currently monetize at a significantly lower rate than hotel shoppers visiting via desktop or tablet. Our Hotel segment transaction-based revenue is comprised of revenue from our hotel instant booking feature, which enables the merchant of record, generally an OTA or hotel partner, to pay a pre-determined commission rate to TripAdvisor for each consumer that completes a hotel reservation via our website.

The key drivers of TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue include average monthly unique hotel shoppers and revenue per hotel shopper, the latter of which measures how effectively we convert our hotel shoppers into revenue. We measure performance by calculating revenue per hotel shopper on an aggregate basis by dividing total TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue by total average monthly unique hotel shoppers on TripAdvisor-branded websites for the periods presented.

While we believe that total traffic growth, or growth in monthly visits from unique visitors, is reflective of our overall brand growth, we also track and analyze sub-segments of our traffic and their correlation to revenue generation and utilize data regarding hotel shoppers as one of the key indicators of revenue growth. Hotel shoppers are visitors who view either a listing of hotels in a city or on a specific hotel page. The number of hotel shoppers tends to vary based on seasonality of the travel industry and general economic conditions, as well as other factors outside of our control.

The table below summarizes our revenue per hotel shopper calculation and growth rate, in the aggregate, for the periods presented (in millions, except calculated revenue per hotel shopper and percentages):

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2018 vs 2017

 

 

2017 vs 2016

 

 

 

(in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue per hotel shopper:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TripAdvisor-branded click-based and transaction revenue

 

$

722

 

 

$

756

 

 

$

750

 

 

 

(4

%)

 

 

1

%

Divided by: Total average monthly unique hotel shoppers for the year

 

 

1,742

 

 

 

1,814

 

 

 

1,645

 

 

 

(4

%)

 

 

10

%

 

 

$

0.41

 

 

$