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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, 2020

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

Trading Symbol

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common stock

TRIP

Nasdaq

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 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 has filed a report on and attention to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. 

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 $1,906,259,896 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 12, 2021

Common Stock, $0.001 par value per share

  

122,029,254 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, 2020. 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

 

24

 

 

 

Item 2.

  

Properties

 

24

 

 

 

Item 3.

  

Legal Proceedings

 

24

 

 

 

Item 4.

  

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

24

 

 

PART II

 

25

 

 

 

Item 5.

  

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

 

25

 

 

 

Item 6.

   Selected Financial Data

    26

 

 

 

Item 7.

  

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

 

27

 

 

 

Item 7A.

  

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

51

 

 

 

Item 8.

  

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

54

 

 

 

Item 9.

  

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

113

 

 

 

Item 9A.

  

Controls and Procedures

 

113

 

 

 

Item 9B.

  

Other Information

 

115

 

 

PART III

 

115

 

 

 

Item 10.

  

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

115

 

 

 

Item 11.

  

Executive Compensation

 

115

 

 

 

Item 12.

  

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

 

115

 

 

 

Item 13.

  

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

115

 

 

 

Item 14.

  

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

115

 

 

PART IV

 

116

 

 

 

Item 15.

  

Exhibits; Financial Statement Schedules

 

116

Item 16.

  

Form 10-K Summary

 

120

 

 

SIGNATURES

 

121

 

 

 

 

ii


 

 

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,” “target,” “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.

 

 

 

 

1


 

 

PART I

 

Item 1.

Business

Overview

Tripadvisor is a leading online travel company and our mission is to help people around the world plan, book and experience the perfect trip. We operate a global travel guidance platform that connects the world’s largest audience of prospective travelers with travel partners through rich content, price comparison tools, and online reservation and related services for destinations, accommodations, travel activities and experiences, and restaurants.

Under our flagship brand, Tripadvisor, we launched www.Tripadvisor.com in the U.S. in 2000. Since then, we have launched localized versions of the Tripadvisor website in 48 markets and 28 languages worldwide. As of December 31, 2020, Tripadvisor featured 884 million reviews and opinions on 7.9 million hotels and other accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises.

In addition to the flagship Tripadvisor brand, we own and operate a portfolio of online travel brands and businesses, operating under various websites, including the following: www.bokun.io, www.cruisecritic.com, www.flipkey.com, www.thefork.com (including www.lafourchette.com, www.eltenedor.com, www.bookatable.co.uk, and www.delinski.com), www.helloreco.com, www.holidaylettings.co.uk, www.housetrip.com, www.jetsetter.com, www.niumba.com, www.seatguru.com, www.singleplatform.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.

In January 2021, Phocuswright, an independent travel, tourism and hospitality research firm, estimated that the annual global travel market (not including dining) will reach $1.4 trillion of bookings in 2022 and is increasingly shifting online. As consumer travel media consumption and travel commerce activity increasingly moves online, 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant negative impact on the travel, hospitality, restaurant, and leisure industry and consequently adversely and materially affected our business, results of operations, liquidity and financial condition during the year ended December 31, 2020. With uncertainty over travel continuing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one knows how quickly global travel will recover and what the travel experience will look like once new health screening measures are in place. However, we believe that, while the pandemic could permanently change travel in certain ways, global travel will return to the pre-pandemic levels. Consumers want to connect with others, learn about new places and see things they have not seen before. We believe this passion for travel combined with the need to make informed choices, creates significant long-term growth opportunities for our business.

Our Business Model

On a global scale, we match consumer demand for travel with travel partners that offer accommodations and travel experiences.

Our Consumer Offerings

Tripadvisor helps consumers plan, book, and enjoy the trips that matter. Our platform which offers content, supply, price, and convenience, has led Tripadvisor to become a global brand, attracting hundreds of millions of unique visitors that visit our sites each month, and influences a 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.

 

2


 

Our 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—that 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, or by serving as the merchant of record – particularly in our Experiences offering – and by offering advertising placements on our websites and mobile apps.

Segments and Products

We manage our business based on the following reportable segments: (1) Hotels, Media & Platform and (2) Experiences & Dining.

Our Hotels, Media & Platform segment includes revenue generated from the following sources:

 

Tripadvisor-branded Hotels Revenue. The largest source of Hotels, Media & Platform segment revenue is generated from click-based advertising on Tripadvisor-branded websites, which is primarily comprised of contextually-relevant booking links to our travel partners’ websites. Our click-based travel partners are predominantly OTAs and hotels. Click-based advertising is generally priced on a cost-per-click, or CPC basis. CPC rates are determined in a dynamic, competitive auction process, also known as hotel auction revenue, where our travel partner CPC bids for rates and availability to be listed on our site are submitted.

We also offer subscription-based advertising to hotels, owners of B&Bs and other specialty lodging properties, enabling subscribers to advertise their businesses on our websites, as well as manage and promote their website URL, email address, phone number, special offers and other information related to their business. Subscription-based advertising services are predominantly sold for a flat fee for a contracted period of time. In addition, we generate revenue on a cost-per-action, or CPA basis, which consists of contextually-relevant booking links to our travel partners’ websites which are advertised on our platform. We earn a commission from our travel partners, for each traveler who clicks to and books a hotel reservation on the travel partners’ website, which results in a traveler stay. We also offer travel partners the opportunity to advertise and promote their business through hotel sponsored placements on our websites, generally on a CPC rate basis.

 

Tripadvisor-branded Display and Platform Revenue. We offer businesses the ability to promote their brands through display-based advertising placements on our websites. Our display-based advertising clients are predominantly direct suppliers of hotels, airlines and cruises, as well as destination marketing organizations. We also sell display-based advertising to 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.

Our Experiences & Dining segment includes revenue generated from the following sources:

 

Experiences. We provide information and services that allow consumers to research and book tours, activities and experiences in popular travel destinations both directly through Viator, our dedicated Experiences offering, and on our Tripadvisor-branded websites and mobile apps. We work with local tour or travel activities/experiences operators (“the supplier”) to provide consumers the ability to book tours, activities and experiences (“the activity”) in popular destinations worldwide, for which we generate commissions for each booking transaction we facilitate through our online reservation system. We also power travel tours, activities and experiences’ booking capabilities to consumers on affiliate partner websites, including some of the world’s top airlines, hotel chains, and online and offline travel

 

3


 

 

agencies, who display and promote on their websites the supplier activities available on our platform to generate bookings for which we earn a commission.

 

Dining. We provide information and services for consumers to research and book restaurant reservations in popular travel destinations through our dedicated online restaurant reservations offering, TheFork, and on our Tripadvisor-branded websites and mobile apps. We primarily generate transaction fees (or per seated diner fees) that are paid by our restaurant customers for diners seated through TheFork’s online reservation system. We also generate subscription fees for subscription-based advertising to restaurants, access to certain online reservation management services, marketing analytic tools, and menu syndication services provided by TheFork and Tripadvisor. In addition, we also offer restaurant partners the opportunity to advertise and promote their business through restaurant media advertising placements on our Tripadvisor website generally on a CPC rate basis.

Other is a combination of our Rentals, Flights & Car, and Cruise offerings and is not considered a reportable segment. Other includes revenue generated from the following sources:

 

Our Rentals offering provides information and services that allow travelers to research and book vacation and short-term rental properties, including full homes, condominiums, villas, beach properties, cabins and cottages. Rentals generates revenue primarily by offering individual property owners and property managers the ability to list their rental properties on our websites and mobile apps thereby connecting with travelers primarily through a free-to-list, commission-based option or, alternatively through 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. In addition, Other also includes revenue generated from flights, cruises, and car offerings on Tripadvisor-branded websites and its portfolio of travel media brand websites, which primarily generate click-based advertising and display-based advertising revenue, similar to our Hotels, Media & Platform segment.

For further information regarding our segments, including financial information, and the principal revenue streams within these segments, refer to “Note 4: Revenue Recognition” and “Note 20: Segment and Geographic Information” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K.  

Seasonality

Consumers’ travel expenditures have historically followed a seasonal pattern. Correspondingly, travel partners’ advertising investments, and therefore our revenue and profits, have also historically followed a seasonal pattern. Our financial performance tends to be seasonally highest in the second and third quarters of a given year, which includes the seasonal peak in consumer demand, traveler hotel and rental stays, and travel activities and experiences taken, compared to the first and fourth quarters, which represent seasonal low points.

However, as discussed in Part.II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Note 1: Organization and Business Description” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K, due to the impact of COVID-19 on our business, we did not experience our typical seasonal pattern for revenue and profit during the year ended December 31, 2020. In addition, cash outflows to travel suppliers related to deferred merchant payables significantly exceeded cash received from travelers during the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily reflecting the decline in consumer demand for our products and an increase in reservation cancellations related to COVID-19. These factors contributed significantly to unfavorable working capital trends and material negative operating cash flow during the year ended December 31, 2020, most notably occurring during the first half of 2020 when we typically generate significant positive cash flow. It is difficult to forecast the seasonality for fiscal year 2021, given the uncertainty related to the ultimate extent and duration of the economic and consumer impact from COVID-19, the widespread availability and distribution of the vaccine, and the shape and timing of a recovery. In addition, significant shifts in our business mix or adverse economic conditions could result in future seasonal patterns that are different from historical trends.

 

4


 

Our Long-Term Growth Strategy

In January 2021, Phocuswright, an independent travel, tourism and hospitality research firm, estimated that the annual global travel market (not including dining) will reach $1.4 trillion of bookings in 2022. Given we have the world’s largest travel audience, we believe that Tripadvisor’s influence in the travel ecosystem remains significant. Our long-term growth strategy aims to increase customer engagement on our platform and drive profitable growth through:

 

building products that delight travelers by reducing friction throughout the travel planning and trip-taking journey;

 

driving consumer loyalty to our platform by offering products and services that increase engagement with our platform and result in membership growth, mobile app engagement and repeat usage;

 

investing in technology (e.g., machine learning) to further improve the experiences we can deliver to consumers and travel partners on our platform;

 

deepening travel partner engagement on our platform by expanding the number of products and services we offer;

 

leveraging our platform’s unique attributes to expand and grow our offerings such as hotel business to business (“B2B”) services, direct-to-consumer products and services where consumers pay us on a per trip planned or an annual subscription basis, both click-based and display-based media advertising, and experiences and restaurants;

 

driving operational efficiencies; and

 

opportunistically pursuing strategic acquisitions.

As part of our long-term growth strategy, we favor continuous product innovation in order to deliver customers more value. In this regard, we beta-launched a direct-to-consumer annual subscription-based offering in December 2020.  

Marketing and Competition

We compete with other companies in attractive, rapidly evolving categories of the travel industry. In these areas, we compete for content, traffic, advertising dollars and, more generally, to attract and retain our consumers’ attention, both in terms of reach and engagement. Since our products and those of our competitors are typically free, we compete based on our brand, the quality and nature of our product offerings and our online travel search and price comparison services (or metasearch), rather than on price. As such, we invest heavily in constantly improving our consumer experience and expanding content, listings and bookable inventory.

We also invest to amplify our global brand and raise consumer awareness of, and engagement with, our end-to-end product offerings. We leverage a number of online and offline marketing channels, including online search engines (primarily Google), social media, email and brand advertising. The relative success of our marketing strategy is more measurable on some of these channels than others, and can be influenced by changes that we, our travel partners, or our competitors make to our respective products and marketing strategies. We intend to continue to promote brand awareness and will strategically allocate resources among the different marketing channels based on the return on investment. 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.

 

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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 Hotels, Media & Platform segment, we compete, and in some cases partner, with the following businesses:

 

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OTAs (including Expedia Group, Inc., or “Expedia”, Booking Holdings, Inc., or “Booking”, and their respective subsidiaries and operating companies);

 

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hotel metasearch providers (including trivago (a majority-owned subsidiary of Expedia), Kayak and HotelsCombined (subsidiaries of Booking) and Trip.com Group Limited (formerly known as Ctrip.com International, Ltd));

 

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large online search, social media, and marketplace platforms and companies (including Google, Facebook, Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Alibaba, Airbnb, and Amazon);

 

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traditional offline travel agencies; and

 

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global hotel chains seeking to promote direct bookings.

 

We also compete with offerings in our Experiences & Dining segment. Experiences competes with online travel agencies, such as Airbnb, Booking, GetYourGuide and Klook; traditional travel agencies; online travel service providers; and wholesalers, among others.  Dining competes with other online restaurant reservation services, such as Google and OpenTable (a subsidiary of Booking).

Commercial Relationships

We have commercial relationships with a majority of the world’s leading OTAs, as well as thousands of other travel partners, pursuant to which these companies primarily purchase traveler leads from us, generally on a click-based advertising basis. 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.

For the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018 our two most significant travel partners were Expedia Group, Inc. and Booking Holdings, Inc., which each accounted for 10% or more of our consolidated revenue and together accounted for approximately 25%, 33% and 37% of our consolidated revenue, respectively. Nearly all of this concentration of revenue is recorded in the Tripadvisor-branded Hotels revenue line within our Hotels, Media & Platform 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 for Tripadvisor-branded websites is in a "hybrid-cloud" configuration in which parts of it are housed at two geographically separate colocation facilities and managed by our operations team, while the rest is hosted on Amazon Web Services. Our infrastructure installations have multiple communication links as well as continuous monitoring and engineering support. Each colocation 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. We make use of Amazon Web Services availability zones to provide redundancy for the cloud portions of our infrastructure. Substantially all of our software components, data, and content are replicated in multiple datacenters and development centers, as well as backed up at offsite locations. Our systems are monitored and protected though multiple layers of security. Several of our individual subsidiaries and businesses have their own data infrastructure and technology teams.

 

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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 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 consumers.  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 and expand our product offerings, we are increasingly subject to additional laws and regulations.  This includes laws and regulations regarding privacy and data protection, libel, content, intellectual property, distribution, electronic contracts and other communications, consumer protection, taxation, online payment services and competition, among others. 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 U.S. (as well as individual states), the E.U. (as well as member states) and other countries 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 difficult to accurately predict how such 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

 

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internet could increase the cost of doing business or otherwise materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or operating results.

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 E.U., 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. In addition, the State of California adopted the Consumer Privacy Protection Act which became effective January 1, 2020 and also enhances privacy rights and consumer protection for residents of California.  In addition, similar laws have been adopted or are currently under discussion in other jurisdictions. The enactment, interpretation and application of these laws is still in a state of flux.  

Also, on June 23, 2016, the U.K. passed a referendum to exit the E.U., known as Brexit, and the U.K. ceased to be a member of the EU on January 31, 2020. On December 24, 2020, the U.K. and E.U. finalized the terms of the departure. While there continues to be some uncertainty around U.K. and E.U. relations, we do not expect Brexit will have a material impact on our business and results of operations; however, we will likely face new regulations and additional hiring costs, as well as hiring limitations from candidates outside of the U.K. 

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, and as of December 31, 2020, 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 14.9% 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 23.0% 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 58.5% of our voting power.

 

Human Capital Resources  

Employees

During the year ended December 31, 2020, the Company enacted workforce reductions and furloughs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of December 31, 2020, the Company had 2,596 employees, which includes approximately 400 furloughed employees primarily based in our European operations at The Fork. This represented

 

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a decrease in the number of employees of approximately 38% when compared to the same period in 2019. Nearly 40% and 50% of the Company’s current employees are based in the U.S. and Europe, respectively. We believe we have good relationships with our employees, including relationships with employees represented by international works councils or other similar organizations.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have in place business continuity programs to ensure that employees are safe and that our teams continue to function effectively while working remotely.  

Talent Acquisition and Development

We believe our employees are essential to our success and that the Company’s success depends on our ability to attract, develop and retain key talent. The skills, experience and industry knowledge of key employees significantly benefit our operations and performance. The Company's management and Board of Directors oversee various initiatives for talent acquisition, retention and development.

Our talent philosophy is to both develop talent from within and to strategically recruit key external talent. This approach has yielded a deep understanding among our employee base of our business, our products, and our customers, while adding new employees and ideas in support of our continuous improvement mindset. Our overall talent acquisition and retention strategy is designed to attract and retain diverse and qualified candidates to enable the success of the Company and achievement of our performance goals. We recruit the best people for the job without regard to gender, ethnicity or other protected traits and it is our policy to comply fully with all domestic, foreign and local laws relating to discrimination in the workplace. Our talent acquisition team uses internal and external resources to recruit highly skilled and talented workers, and we encourage employee referrals for open positions.

We support and develop our employees through global training and development programs that build and strengthen employees’ leadership and professional skills. Leadership development includes programs for new leaders as well as programs designed to support more experienced leaders. We also partner with external training organizations to help provide current and future workers with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

Our diversity and inclusion initiatives support our goal that everyone throughout the Company is engaged in creating an inclusive workplace. We support inclusion through training on topics including Unconscious Bias and Inclusive Leadership. We also support a network of active Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) reflecting many dimensions of diversity across the Company.

Total Rewards

As part of our compensation philosophy, we believe that we must offer and maintain market competitive total rewards programs for our employees in order to attract, motivate and retain superior talent. These programs not only include base wages and incentives in support of our pay for performance culture, but also health, welfare, and retirement benefits.

We design our benefit programs to meet the needs of our employees’ health while managing program costs for escalation rates at or below industry trend factors.  Our programs include but are not limited to wellness, mental health services, telemedicine, and partnerships with service providers that support diverse family-care need solutions.  We continuously refine, develop and implement proactive health care strategies and solutions that allow us to enhance employee health and well-being while curbing costs.

Refer to “Note 14: Employee Benefit Plans” and “Note 15: “Stock Based Awards and Other Equity Instruments” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further information on our 401(k) Plan, our equity award plan and other employee benefit plans.

 

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Health and Safety

 

The health and safety of our employees is of utmost importance to us. We conduct regular self-assessments and audits to ensure compliance with our health and safety guidelines and regulatory requirements. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored for us the importance of keeping our employees safe and healthy. In response to the pandemic, the Company has taken actions aligned with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect its workforce so they can more safely and effectively perform their work, including, but not limited to:

 

 

Adding work from home flexibility;

 

Increasing cleaning protocols across all locations;

 

Initiating regular communication regarding impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health and safety protocols and procedures;

 

Prohibiting all domestic and international non-essential business travel for all employees; and

 

Requiring masks to be worn in all locations where required by local law.

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.

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.

 

 

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 and adversely affected.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has materially and adversely affected, and will likely continue to materially and adversely impact, our business and financial performance while the pandemic lasts. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused material declines in demand within the travel, hospitality, restaurant and leisure industry that has dampened consumer demand for our products and services and has adversely and materially affected our business, financial results and financial condition. The Company's future financial results and liquidity could be impacted by delays in payments of outstanding accounts receivable amounts beyond normal payment terms, travel supplier and restaurant insolvencies, governmental restrictions and mandates. The extent and duration of the impact of the COVID-19

 

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pandemic on our business, financial results and financial condition is highly uncertain and difficult to predict, as the duration and severity of the pandemic is uncertain and cannot be predicted. We expect the pandemic and its effects to continue to have a significant adverse impact on our business for the duration of the pandemic. Furthermore, economies worldwide have also been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and such economic disruption could have a material adverse effect on our business as consumers reduce their discretionary spending.

Declines or disruptions in the travel industry have had a material adverse impact on the Company’s business, financial results and financial condition. Many jurisdictions have adopted laws, regulations or decrees intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including those implementing travel restrictions, social mobility and distancing requirements and/or restricting access to city centers or popular tourist destinations or limiting accommodation offerings in surrounding areas. Many airlines have also suspended or limited flights. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, governments, corporations and other authorities may continue to implement restrictions or policies that adversely impact travel, or reinstate similar restrictions or policies, where previously lifted. Increased and/or prolonged restrictions and regulations such as these could continue to negatively impact our business, financial results and financial condition and could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.

If we are unable to continue to attract a significant amount of visitors to our websites and mobile apps, to cost-effectively convert these visitors into revenue-generating consumers and to continue to engage consumers, our business, financial results and financial condition could be harmed. Our traffic and user engagement could be adversely affected by a number of factors including, but not limited to, inability to provide quality content, inventory or supply to our consumers; declines or inefficiencies in traffic acquisition and reduced awareness of our brands. 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. 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 consumers, 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 ours. If links to our websites and apps are not displayed prominently, traffic to our platform could decline and our business would be negatively affected. The number of consumers we attract 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, or SERPs. The display, including rankings, of search results can be affected by a number of factors, many of which are not in our control. Search engines frequently 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. A search engine could alter its search algorithms or results causing our websites to place lower in search query results. For example, Google, a significant source of traffic to our websites, frequently promotes its own competing products in its search results, which has negatively impacted placement of references to our company and our websites on the SERP. 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 travel 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.

We also rely on application marketplaces, or app stores such as Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play, to drive downloads of our apps. In the future, Apple, Google or other marketplace operators may make changes that make access to our products more difficult or may limit our access to information that would restrict our ability to provide the best user experience. 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 apps may receive unfavorable treatment compared to the promotion and placement of competing apps, such as the order in which they appear within marketplaces. In addition, Apple has announced new features that limit who has access to consumer data, including location information. Similarly, if problems arise in our relationships with providers of application marketplaces, traffic to our website and our user growth could be harmed.

 

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We derive a substantial portion of our revenue from advertising and any significant reduction in spending by advertisers on our platforms could harm our business. Our ability to grow advertising revenue with our existing or new travel partners is dependent in large part on our ability to provide value to them relative to other alternatives. Our ability to provide value to our travel partners depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

Our ability to increase or maintain user engagement;

 

Our ability to increase or maintain the quantity and quality of ads shown to consumers;

 

The development of technologies that can block the display of our ads or our ad measurement tools;

 

The effectiveness of our advertising and the extent to which it generates sales leads, customers, bookings or financial results on a cost-effective basis;

 

The competitiveness of our products, traffic quality, perception of our platform, and availability and accuracy of analytics and measurement solutions to demonstrate our value; and

 

Adverse government actions or legal developments relating to advertising, including limitations on our ability to deliver targeted advertising.

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, any of which would negatively affect our revenue and financial results.

Click-based advertising revenue accounts for the majority of our advertising revenue. Our 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 advertising revenue which would, in turn, have an adverse effect on our business and financial results.

We rely on a relatively small number of significant travel partners and any reduction in spending by or loss of these partners could seriously harm our business. For the year ended December 31, 2020, our two most significant travel partners, Expedia and Booking (and their subsidiaries), accounted for a combined 25% of total revenue. If any of our significant travel partners 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 strong brands and any failure to maintain, protect or enhance our brands could hurt our ability to retain and expand our base of consumers and partners, the frequency with which consumers utilize our products and services and our ability to attract travel partners. Our ability to maintain and protect our brands depends, in part, on our ability to maintain consumer trust in our products and services and in the quality, integrity, reliability of usefulness of the content and other information found on our platform. If consumers do not view the content on our website 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 or at all. We dedicate significant resources to protecting the quality of our content, primarily through our content guidelines, computer algorithms and human moderators that are focused on identifying and removing inappropriate, unreliable or deceptive content.

Media, legal, or regulatory scrutiny of our user content, advertising practices, and other issues may adversely affect our reputation and brand. Negative publicity about our company, including our content, technology and business practices, could diminish our reputation and confidence in our brand, thereby negatively affecting the use of our products and our financial performance. For example, in the past, 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. 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. 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 could adversely affect our reputation with our consumers and our travel 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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Consumer adoption and use of mobile devices creates new challenges. If we are unable to offer compelling products on such devices or continue to operate effectively on these platforms, our business may be adversely affected. Widespread adoption of mobile devices has driven substantial online traffic and commerce to mobile platforms and we anticipate that use of these devices will continue to grow. Our websites and apps, when utilized on mobile phone devices, have historically monetized at a significantly lower rate than desktops and advertising opportunities are more limited on these devices. Additionally, consumer purchasing patterns differ on these devices. For example, accommodation reservations made on a mobile device are generally for shorter lengths of stay and are not made as far in advance. 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.

It is important for us to develop and maintain effective platforms to drive adoption and user engagement by providing consumers with an appealing, easy-to-use experience. 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 and we may need to devote significant resources to the creation, support and maintenance of competitive new products. If we are unable to continue to rapidly innovate and create appealing, user-friendly and differentiated offerings and efficiently and effectively advertise on these platforms, we could lose market share and our business, future growth and financial results could be adversely affected.

Our success will also depend on the interoperability of our products with a range of technologies, systems, networks and standards and our ability to create, maintain and develop 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 and our products need to synergistically function on their respective operating systems in order to create a positive user experience on those devices. Yet, Apple has announced new privacy features that limit the amount of information we can access about our users operating on the Apple iPhone operating system.  

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 do not 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 financial results may be harmed.

Declines or disruptions in the economy in general and travel industry, in particular, could adversely affect our businesses, financial results and the market price of our common stock. Sales of travel services tend to decline or grow more slowly during economic downturns 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 events beyond our control including actual or threatened terrorism, regional hostilities or instability, natural disasters, political instability and health concerns (including epidemics or pandemics), significant increases in energy costs, tightening of credit markets and declines in consumer confidence. The uncertainty of macro-economic factors and their impact on consumer behavior 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.

We have significant operations in both the U.K. and the E.U. and those operations are highly integrated across the U.K. and the E.U. and are highly dependent on the free flow of labor and goods in those regions. Although the U.K. ceased to be a member of the E.U. on January 31, 2020, and the U.K. and E.U. have come to some agreements on the terms of the departure, there remains some uncertainty about the future relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. The ongoing uncertainty could negatively impact our partner and customer relationships as well as consumer confidence and spending in the U.K. Since the U.K. regulatory environment continues to evolve, we are unable to predict the effect Brexit and U.K. and E.U. relations will have on our business and results of operations.

Economic downturn and adverse market conditions may also negatively impact our travel partners, our travel partners’ access to capital, cost of capital and ability to meet liquidity needs.  These challenges faced in a prolonged economic downturn or deterioration in the travel industry could adversely impact our business, financial results and

 

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financial condition. The extent and duration of such impacts remain largely uncertain and dependent on future developments that cannot be accurately predicted at this time.

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 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.  We face competition for content, consumers, advertisers, online travel search and price comparison services 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. Current and new competitors can launch new services at a relatively low cost. More specifically:

 

In our Hotels, Media & Platform segment, we face competition from the following businesses: OTAs (including Expedia and Booking); hotel metasearch providers (including trivago, Kayak, HotelsCombined, and Trip.com Group Limited); large online search, social media, and marketplace platforms and companies (including Google, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Alibaba, Airbnb, and Amazon); and traditional offline travel agencies; and global hotel chains seeking to promote direct bookings.

 

We also face competition from different companies with respect to our Experiences & Dining segment. Our Experiences offering competes with online travel agencies, such as Airbnb, Booking, GetYourGuide and Klook; traditional travel agencies; online travel service providers; and wholesalers, among others. Our Dining offering competes with other online restaurant reservation services, such as Google and OpenTable.

There has been a proliferation of new channels through which service 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 offer a variety of online services and, in some cases, are willing to make little or no profit on a transaction, or offer travel services at a loss, in order to gain market share. Many of our competitors have significantly greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources and have more expertise in developing online commerce and facilitating internet traffic as well as larger client bases. They also have the ability to leverage other aspects of their business to enable them to compete more effectively.

In addition, Google and other large, established companies with substantial resources and expertise have launched travel or travel-related search, metasearch and/or reservation booking services and may create additional inroads into online travel. Many of our competitors continue to expand their voice and artificial intelligence capabilities, which may provide them with a competitive advantage in travel.

We compete with certain companies that we also do business with, including certain of our travel partners and related parties. The consolidation of our competitors and travel partners may affect our relative competitiveness and our travel partner relationships. Competition and consolidation could result in 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.

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. 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. The emergence of alternative or new devices and the emergence of niche competitors who may be able to optimize products, services or strategies for such platforms will require additional 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.

If we do not continue to innovate and provide products, services and features that are useful to consumers, we may not remain competitive, and our business and financial performance could suffer. Our competitors are continually developing innovations in services and features. As a result, we are continually working to improve the user experience on our platform in order to engage our consumers and drive user traffic and conversion rates for our

 

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travel partners. 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. If we are unable to continue offering innovative products and services and quality features that consumers 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 consumer experience our highest priority may cause us to prioritize rapid innovation and consumer experience over short-term financial results. We strive to create the best experience for our consumers. We believe that in doing so we will increase our traffic conversion (i.e., visitors converting into clicks and/or bookings), revenue and financial performance. We have taken actions in the past, and may continue to take actions in the future, that have the effect of reducing our short-term financial results if we believe the actions benefit the overall consumer experience. These decisions may not produce the long-term benefits we expect, new or enhanced products may fail to engage consumers and/or we may be unsuccessful in our efforts to monetize these initiatives, in which case our relationships with consumers and travel partners, and our business and financial performance could be harmed.

We are dependent upon the quality of traffic in our network to provide value to our travel partners, and any failure in our ability to deliver quality traffic and/or the metrics to demonstrate the value of the traffic could have a material and adverse impact on the value of our websites to our travel partners and adversely affect our revenue. We use technology and processes to monitor the quality of the internet traffic that we deliver to our travel partners and have identified metrics to demonstrate the quality of that traffic and identify low quality clicks such as non-human processes, including robots, spiders, 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 will be delivered to such online advertisers. Such low-quality or invalid traffic may be detrimental to our relationships with travel 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. Certain metrics are key to our business; as both the industry in which we operate and our businesses continue to evolve, so too might the metrics by which we evaluate our businesses. While the calculation of the metrics we use 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; 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 users may not accurately reflect the number of people actually visiting our platforms. 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. We continue to improve upon our tools and methodologies to capture data; 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. Finally, we may, in the future, identify new or other metrics that enable us to more accurately evaluate our business. Accordingly, investors 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. 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.

During 2020, our headcount was reduced by nearly 1,600 employees. This reduction in workforce results in the loss of institutional knowledge, relationships, or expertise for critical roles. This reduction could also have a negative impact on employee morale and productivity, make it more difficult to retain valuable key employees, divert attention from operating our business, create personnel capacity constraints and hamper our ability to grow, develop innovative products and compete, any of which could impede our ability to operate or meet strategic objectives. As travel recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, we may need to replace some or all of those roles with

 

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qualified individuals, which is typically a time-consuming process. We compete with companies that have far greater financial resources than we do as well as companies that promise short-term growth opportunities and/or other benefits. If we do not succeed in 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 present new challenges and risks and disrupt our ongoing business. We have acquired, invested in and/or entered into significant commercial arrangements with a number of 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:

 

Costs incurred to identify, pursue and fund these endeavors that may or may not be successful and may limit other potential uses of cash;

 

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 or personnel;

 

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

 

Assumption of debt and liabilities, including costs associated with litigation, cybersecurity risks, and other claims;

 

Failure of any such strategy or target to achieve anticipated objectives, revenues or earnings;

 

Limited management or operational control and heightened reputational risk with respect to minority investments;

 

Entrance into markets in which we have no prior experience; and

 

Adverse market reaction to the transaction.

We have invested, and may in the future invest, in privately-held companies. Such investments are inherently risky and our ability to liquidate any such investments is typically difficult. Valuations of such privately-held companies are inherently complex and uncertain due to the lack of liquid market for the companies’ securities. We cannot assure you that these investments will be successful or that such endeavors will result in the realization of the synergies, cost savings and innovation that may be possible within a reasonable period of time, if at all. We could lose the full amount of our investments; any impairment of our investments could have a material adverse effect on our financial results.

Risks Related to Legal and Regulatory Matters

We are a global company that operates in many different jurisdictions inside and outside the U.S. and these operations expose us to additional risks. Many regions have different economic conditions, languages, currencies, legislation, regulatory environments, levels of political stability, levels of consumer expectations, and use of the internet for commerce. We are subject to risks typical of global businesses, including, but not limited to, the following:

 

   

Compliance with additional laws and regulations, including but not limited to, laws and regulations regarding data privacy, labor and employment, advertising, anti-competition and tax;

 

   

Diminished ability to legally enforce contractual rights;

 

   

Increased risk and limits on enforceability of intellectual property rights;

 

   

Restrictions on repatriation of cash and on investments in operations;

 

   

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;

 

   

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

 

   

Threatened or actual acts of terrorism.

Our strategy includes continued expansion in existing markets and potentially new markets. In addition to the risks mentioned above, 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 some markets, 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

 

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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 existing and potentially new markets and effectively managing that expansion, our business and financial results could be adversely affected.

We are regularly subject to claims, lawsuits, government investigations, and other proceedings which may result in adverse outcomes and, regardless of the outcome, result in legal costs, diversion of management resources, injunctions or damage awards, and other negative results. 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, financial results or financial position. These proceedings could also result in reputational harm, criminal sanctions or consent decrees, the release of confidential information or orders preventing us from offering certain features, functionalities, products, or services, requiring a change in our business practices. Any of these consequences could adversely affect our business and financial results.

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 results. Our business and financial results 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, but not limited to, those relating to internet and online commerce, internet advertising, consumer protection, intermediary liability and data security and privacy. 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 and liability for information retrieved from or transmitted over the internet. In addition, the growth and development of online commerce may prompt calls for more stringent consumer protection laws and more aggressive enforcement efforts, data privacy and industry-specific laws and regulations. Further, our Rentals business has been and continues to be subject to regulatory developments globally that affect the rental industry, such as (i) statutes or ordinances that prohibit or limit property owners and managers from renting certain properties on a short-term basis, (ii) fair housing or other laws governing whether and how properties may be rented, and (iii) homeowners, condominium and neighborhood associations adopting or considering adopting rules that prohibit or restrict property owners and managers from short-term rentals. Operating in this dynamic regulatory environment requires significant management attention and financial resources. The failure of our businesses to comply with these laws and regulations could result in fines and/or proceedings against us by governmental agencies, regulatory authorities, courts and/or consumers, which, if material, could adversely affect our business, financial condition and financial results.

The promulgation of new laws, rules and regulations, or new interpretations of existing laws, rules and regulations, could require us to change certain aspects of our business, operations and relationships to ensure compliance, which could decrease demand for services, reduce revenues, increase costs and/or subject the Company to additional liabilities. For example, many jurisdictions have adopted, and many jurisdictions are considering adopting, privacy rights and consumer protections for their residents, which legislation will continue to change the landscape for the use and protection of data and could increase the cost and complexity of delivering our services. Unfavorable changes could limit marketing methods and capabilities, decrease demand for products and services, impede development of new products, require significant management time, increase costs and/or subject us to additional liabilities. Violations of these laws and regulations could result in penalties, criminal sanctions and/or negative publicity against us, our officers or our employees and/or restrictions on the conduct of our business.  

We cannot be sure that our intellectual property is protected from copying or use by others. Our websites rely on content as well as proprietary brands and technology. We protect our content, brands and technology by relying on a combination of trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and confidentiality agreements. Even with these precautions, it may be possible for a party to copy or obtain and use our content, brands or technology without authorization or to independently develop similar content, brands or technology. Any misappropriation or violation of our rights could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Effective intellectual property protection is expensive to develop and maintain and may not be available in every jurisdiction in which our services are available.  Policing unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and expensive; in certain jurisdictions, we may be unable to protect our intellectual property adequately against unauthorized third-party copying or use. 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 rights, to protect our trade secrets or to determine the

 

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validity and scope of the 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-efficient or effective manner could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We currently license and incorporate into our websites technologies and content from third parties. 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.

Risks Related to Data Security 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. The security of data when engaging in electronic commerce is essential to maintaining consumer and service provider confidence in our services. We are subject to a variety of laws in the U.S. and abroad regarding privacy and the storing, sharing, use, processing, disclosure and protection of personal information, the scope of which are changing, subject to differing interpretations, and may be inconsistent between countries or conflict with other existing laws. The regulatory framework for privacy issues worldwide is currently in flux and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. In addition, 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.

Implementing and complying with these laws and regulations may be more costly or take longer than we anticipate, or could otherwise affect our operations. 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 that could harm our reputation and cause our consumers and travel partners to lose trust in us, any of which could have an adverse effect on our business, brand, market share and financial results.

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 travel partners using a variety of methods, including credit, debit and invoicing. We are subject to regulations and compliance requirements, including obligations to implement enhanced authentication processes. We rely on third parties to provide certain payment methods and payment processing services and 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. We are also subject to a number of other laws and regulations relating to payments, money laundering, international money transfers and privacy and information security. These laws, regulations and/or requirements result in significant costs and, yet, we may still be susceptible to fraudulent activity. 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, penalties 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. In addition, 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.

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 share 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 could result in government enforcement actions and litigation and potential liability for us. 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

 

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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.

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 vulnerabilities in our systems, 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. 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.

Much of our business is conducted with third party partners and vendors. 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 reputational damage, expose us to risk of loss or litigation and subject us to regulatory penalties and sanctions. In addition, such incidents may also result in a decline in our user base or engagement levels.

Media coverage of data breaches and public exposure of consumer data rights has increased, in part because of the rise of enforcement actions, investigations and lawsuits. Similarly, the increase in privacy activist groups is likely to give rise to further scrutiny, investigative actions and publicity. Security breaches could result in negative publicity, damage to reputation, exposure to risk of loss 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 consumers to lose confidence in our data security, which would have a negative effect on the value of our brand.

Evolving regulations, guidance and practices on the use of "cookies" and similar technology could negatively impact the way we do business. Cookies, or text files stored on consumers’ web browsers, are common tools used by thousands of websites and apps, including ours, to store or gather information, improve site security, improve the customer experience, market to consumers and increase conversion on their websites. Many countries have adopted data protection laws and regulations governing the use of cookies and other similar tracking technologies by websites and app developers. Such regulations could limit our ability to serve certain customers in the manner we currently do, including with respect to retargeting or personalized advertising, impair our ability to improve and optimize performance on our websites, negatively affect a consumer's experience using our websites and negatively impact our business. Equally, privacy has been the impetus behind a move towards a cookie-less online ecosystem which poses a potential risk to our online behavioral advertising strategy. For example, Apple and Google Chrome have announced new privacy features that may limit our ability to use cookies and similar technology to improve the consumer experience.

Risks Related to Financial Matters

We have indebtedness which could adversely affect our business and financial condition. With respect to the Senior Notes, we are subject to risks relating to our existing or potential indebtedness that include:

 

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

 

Difficulties to optimally capitalize and manage the cash flow for our businesses;

 

Possible competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt;

 

Limitations on our ability to borrow additional funds on acceptable terms or at all; and

 

Exposure to increased interest rates to the extent our outstanding debt is subject to variable rates of interest.

Failure to comply with the various covenants contained in our Credit Agreement and the Indenture could have a material adverse effect on our business. The various covenants contained in the Credit Agreement and Indenture include those that limit our ability to, among other things:

 

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Incur indebtedness;

 

Pay dividends on, redeem or repurchase our capital stock;

 

Effect share repurchases;

 

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. Any failure to comply with the restrictions of our 2015 Credit Facility or our Senior Notes may result in an event of default under the agreements governing such debt instruments and such default may allow the creditors to accelerate the debt incurred thereunder. In addition, lenders under the 2015 Credit Facility may be able to terminate any commitments they had made to supply us with further funds.

We may have future capital needs and may not be able to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms. Pursuant to the 2015 Credit Facility, we agreed to pledge substantially all of our assets, including the equity interests of our subsidiaries. This agreement also includes restrictive covenants that may limit our ability to secure additional financing in the future on favorable terms, if at all. Our ability to secure additional financing will also depend upon our future operating performance, which is subject to then prevailing general economic and credit market conditions, and financial, business and other factors, many of which are beyond our control.

Our financial results are difficult to forecast; they have fluctuated in the past and will likely fluctuate in the future. 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 consumer base and to increase user engagement;

 

Increases in marketing, sales and other 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, global or regional events or other factors;

 

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;

 

Changes in the legislative or regulatory environment or engagement by regulators;

 

Changes in tax laws, which may significantly affect our tax rates and taxes;

 

Tax obligations that may arise from resolutions of tax examinations 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. GAAP; and

 

Changes in global business and macroeconomic conditions.

As a result, you should not rely upon our quarterly financial results as indicators of future performance.

If we are unable to successfully maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in our reported financial information and our business and share price 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. If we are not successful in maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, there could be inaccuracies or omissions in the financial information we file with the SEC. Additionally, even if there are no inaccuracies or omissions, we could be required to publicly disclose our management’s conclusion 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, result in increased costs to remediate any deficiencies, attract regulatory scrutiny or lawsuits that could be costly to resolve and distract management’s

 

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attention, limit our ability to access the capital markets, adversely impact our stock price, or cause our stock to be delisted from Nasdaq or any other securities exchange on which we are then listed.

Risks Related to Tax Matters

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 U.S. and other foreign jurisdictions. In the event we incur taxable 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 could affect 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.

Our future income tax rates could be affected by a number of matters outside of our control, including but not limited to changes in the mix of earnings in countries with differing statutory tax rates, changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets or accounting for share-based compensation. If our effective income tax rates were to increase, our financial results and cash flows would be adversely affected.

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 income taxes and non-income-based taxes in the U.S. and various other international jurisdictions. Tax laws are subject to change as new laws are passed and new interpretations of the laws are issued or applied. Due to economic and political conditions, tax rates and tax regimes 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 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. Any changes to international tax laws or any additional reporting requirements may increase the complexity and costs associated with tax compliance and adversely affect our cash flows and results of operations

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) has been working on a Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project and has issued various reports, guidelines, policy notes, and proposals that if adopted could result in an overhaul of the international taxation system under which our current tax obligations are determined. In response, several countries have introduced unilateral digital service tax initiatives which impose new types of non-income taxes, including taxes based on a percentage of revenue. During the year ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we recorded $2 million and $3 million, respectively, of digital service tax to general and administrative expense on our consolidated statement of operations; however, we continue to assess the financial impact of new laws relating to digital services and taxation.

We are routinely under audit by federal, state and foreign taxing authorities. The ultimate outcome of these examinations (including the IRS audit described below) cannot be predicted with certainty but could be materially different from our income tax provisions and accruals and could have a material effect on our results of operations or cash flows in the period or periods for which that determination is made. Should the IRS or other taxing authorities assess additional taxes as a result of examinations, we may be required to record charges to our results of operations, which could harm our operating results and financial condition. 

Changes in the tax treatment of companies engaged in e-commerce may adversely affect the commercial use of our sites and our financial results. Tax authorities at the international, federal, state and local levels are currently reviewing the appropriate treatment of companies engaged in e-commerce and it is possible that various jurisdictions may attempt to levy additional or new sales, income or other taxes relating to our activities. 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

 

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and local sales taxes, may have an adverse impact on our business. Also, as described in more detail above, certain U.S. states and countries in which we do business have enacted or proposed digital services tax initiatives. 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. We cannot predict the effect of these and other attempts to impose sales, income or other taxes on e-commerce; however, 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 results and financial condition.

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. In the event of an adverse outcome, we could face assessments, 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 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). 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 and, in connection with that audit, have received Notices of Proposed Adjustment from the IRS which would result in an increase in our worldwide income tax expense. We have requested competent authority assistance under the Mutual Agreement Procedure (“MAP”) for tax years 2009 through 2011. We expect the competent authorities to present a resolution for the 2009 through 2011 tax years in the near future. Upon receipt, we will assess the resolution provided by the competent authorities as well as its impact on our existing income tax reserves for all open subsequent years. 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 rates. We conduct a significant portion of our business outside the U.S. but report our results in U.S. dollars. As a result, we face exposure to movements in foreign currency exchange rates including, but 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, 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.

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 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.

Risks Related to Ownership of our Common Stock

 

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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). Our Chairman, Gregory Maffei, and Directors Greg O’Hara and Albert Rosenthaler, also serve as officers and directors of LTRIP. LTRIP may have interests that differ from those of our other stockholders and 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 related to our business. LTRIP’s control of us, as well as the 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 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:

 

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;

 

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

 

General market conditions and other factors.

In the past, the stock market has 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. 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. We currently rely on the controlled company exemption for certain of the above requirements, including the requirement that 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. 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 pay regular quarterly or annual cash dividends on our stock. Any determination to pay dividends is at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on our results of operations, earnings, capital requirements, financial condition, future prospects, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our Board of Directors. Therefore, investors should not rely on regular quarterly or annual dividend income from shares of our common stock and investors should not rely on special dividends with any regularity or at all.

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 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. 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.

 

23


 

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;

 

Prohibition of our stockholders to fill board vacancies or call special stockholder meetings; and

 

Limitations on who may call special meetings of stockholders.

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

As of December 31, 2020, we do not own any real estate. We lease approximately 280,000 square feet of office space for our corporate headquarters in Needham, Massachusetts, or Headquarters Lease. Our Headquarters Lease, has 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 485,000 square feet of office space in approximately 35 other locations across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and South America, in cities such as New York, London, Sydney, Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Paris, primarily for our sales offices, subsidiary headquarters, and international management teams, pursuant to leases with various expiration dates. 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.

Item 3.

Refer to “Note 13: Commitments and Contingencies” in the notes to the consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K, for further information on our legal proceedings. For an additional discussion of certain risks associated with legal proceedings, see “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A on this Annual Report on Form 10-K.  

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

 

 

 

24


 

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.” Our Class B common stock is not listed and there is no established public trading market for that security. As of February 12, 2021, all of our Class B common stock was held by LTRIP.

Performance Comparison Graph

The following graph provides a comparison of the total stockholder return from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2020, of an investment of $100 in cash on December 31, 2015 for Tripadvisor, Inc. common stock and an investment of $100 in cash on December 31, 2015 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.

 

 

 

25


 

 

This performance comparison graph is not “soliciting material,” is not deemed filed with the SEC and is not deemed to be incorporated by reference into any filing of Tripadvisor, Inc. under the Securities Act or any filing under the Exchange Act.

Holders of Record

As of February 12, 2021, there were 122,029,254 outstanding shares of our common stock held by 2,027 stockholders of record, and 12,799,999 outstanding shares of our Class B common stock held by one stockholder of record: LTRIP.

Dividends

While the Company did pay a special cash dividend of $3.50 per share to stockholders, or approximately $488 million in the aggregate, on December 4, 2019, we did not declare or pay any dividends during the years ended December 31, 2020 or 2018. Any determination to pay dividends in the future will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on our results of operations, earnings, capital requirements, financial condition, future prospects, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our Board of Directors. In addition, our ability to pay dividends was also limited by the terms of our Credit Agreement and our Indenture. Therefore, investors should not rely on regular quarterly or annual dividend income from shares of our common stock and investors should not rely on special dividends with any regularity, or at all. Investors should 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.

Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans

The information required under this item is incorporated herein by reference to our 2021 Proxy Statement, which proxy statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after the close of our fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.

Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities

During the quarter ended December 31, 2020, 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

During the quarter ended December 31, 2020, we did not repurchase any shares of our common stock under our existing share repurchase program. As of December 31, 2020, we had $75 million remaining available to repurchase shares of our common stock under our previously authorized share repurchase program.

While the Board of Directors has not suspended or terminated the share repurchase program, the terms of our Credit Agreement limit the Company from engaging in share repurchases and the terms of our Indenture impose certain limitations and restrictions on share repurchases. 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 further information about our Credit Agreement and our Indenture.

 

Item 6.Selected Financial Data

 

This item is no longer required as we have elected to early adopt the changes to Item 301 of Regulation S-K.

 

 

26


 

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

The following discussion and analysis provides information concerning our results of operations and financial condition. This discussion should be read in conjunction with our accompanying consolidated financial statements and the notes in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Overview

Tripadvisor is a leading online travel company and our mission is to help people around the world plan, book and experience the perfect trip. We operate a global travel guidance platform that connects the world’s largest audience of prospective travelers with travel partners through rich content, price comparison tools, and online reservation and related services for destinations, accommodations, travel activities and experiences, and restaurants.

Under our flagship brand, Tripadvisor, we launched www.Tripadvisor.com in the U.S. in 2000. Since then, we have launched localized versions of the Tripadvisor website in 48 markets and 28 languages worldwide. As of December 31, 2020, Tripadvisor featured 884 million reviews and opinions on 7.9 million hotels and other accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises.

In addition to the flagship Tripadvisor brand, we own and operate a portfolio of online travel brands and businesses, operating under various websites, connected by the common goal of providing consumers the most comprehensive travel-planning and trip-taking resources in the travel industry. For information on our portfolio of brands and our business model, see the discussion set forth in Part I, Item 1. “Business”, under the captions “Overview” and “Our Business Model.”

Our reporting structure includes the following reportable segments: (1) Hotels, Media & Platform; and (2) Experiences & Dining. For further information on our segments, including the principal revenue streams within these segments, refer to “Note 4: Revenue Recognition” and “Note 20: Segment and Geographic Information” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Executive Financial Summary

Tripadvisor is the world’s largest travel guidance platform, as measured by monthly unique users. 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. Tripadvisor’s platform and product offerings enable consumers to discover, research and price shop a variety of travel products, including hotels, flights, cruises, cars, vacation rental properties, tours, travel activities and experiences, and restaurants; and book a number of these travel experiences either directly on our websites or mobile apps, or on our travel partners’ websites or mobile apps.

 

Business Trends 

The online travel industry in which we operate is large and also highly dynamic and competitive. Our overall strategy is to deliver more value to consumers and travel partners in order to generate more monetization on our platform. While we operate with a long-term growth focus, our specific growth objectives and resource allocation strategies can differ in both duration and magnitude within our segments. We describe these dynamics, as well as the current trends affecting our overall business and reportable segments, key drivers of our financial results, and uncertainties that may impact our ability to execute on our objectives and strategies, below.

COVID-19

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant negative impact on the travel, hospitality, restaurant, and leisure industry and consequently adversely and materially affected our business, results of operations, liquidity and financial condition during the year ended December 31, 2020. Among other impacts, COVID-19 has negatively

 

27


 

impacted global consumer demand and consumers’ ability to travel, thereby resulting in many of our travel partners operating at significantly reduced service levels.

Commencing in late February 2020 and progressively worsening through March 2020, we experienced a significant decline in user demand for our products and services, concurrent with intensifying concerns about COVID-19 on a global basis, in conjunction with widespread travel restrictions imposed by governments and businesses. The adverse impact to our business from COVID-19 intensified in the second half of March, driven by the pandemic’s proliferation and increased governmental restrictions and mandates globally that additionally impacted the travel, hospitality, restaurant, and leisure industry and further dampened consumer demand for our products and services. In the second half of March and throughout April, significant year-over-year revenue declines generally stabilized across the Company’s segments and products, which generally continued throughout the second quarter of 2020, and modestly improved during the third quarter of 2020. Our consolidated revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020, was approximately 40% of the prior year’s comparable period. In the second half of 2020, revenue averaged approximately 35% of the prior year’s comparable period, while revenue performance in the months of November and December was approximately 33% of the prior year’s comparable periods. This trend compares favorably to the trends observed in months of April 2020 and May 2020, where revenue for those months was approximately 10% of the prior year’s comparable periods. In addition, traffic trends on our websites have improved since the significant declines seen in the second half of March and throughout April 2020. In the second half of 2020, monthly unique users on Tripadvisor websites averaged approximately 67% of the prior year’s comparable periods, while in April and May of 2020, monthly unique users on Tripadvisor websites were approximately 33% and 45% of the prior year’s comparable periods, respectively. While our revenue and traffic trends generally improved since April and May 2020, these trends began to flatten out in September 2020. Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020, governments again, particularly in Europe, began to impose new restrictions to mitigate the spread of the virus, which negatively impacted these recent trends, as monthly unique users on Tripadvisor websites during the fourth quarter of 2020 declined to approximately 60% of the prior year’s comparable period, in comparison to approximately 70% of the prior year’s comparable period, during the third quarter of 2020.

 

We have also incurred significant and unanticipated cancellations by travelers related to future travel, accommodations and tour bookings, which had been reserved by travelers in the pre-COVID-19 timeframe and included a significant number of bookings recorded as deferred revenue on our consolidated balance sheet as of December 31, 2019. During the course of 2020, we have worked with travelers and travel partners to address cancellations, re-bookings, and in certain cases we have provided our travel partners extended payment terms, discounts and other incentives.

While we have seen varying degrees of containment of the virus in certain countries and some signs of travel recovery during points in time during 2020, the degree of containment and the recovery in travel has varied region-to-region globally, as well as state-to-state in the U.S. Most notably, a resurgence of COVID-19 has occurred again, after a period of decline, during the fourth quarter of 2020 and the beginning of the first quarter of 2021, followed by the reinstatement of government restrictions and mandates in certain geographies globally and the identification of new variants of the virus. There remains uncertainty around when remaining or reinstated restrictions will be lifted, where additional restrictions may be initiated, or where restrictions that have been previously lifted may be reinstated due to resurgence of the virus, nor is it clear when the short or long-term changes to consumer usage patterns on our platform or travel behavior patterns when travel bans and other government restrictions and mandates are fully lifted, or the timing of widespread distribution and administration of the vaccine globally. We believe the travel industry and our business will continue to be materially and adversely affected while such travel restrictions remain in place and COVID-19 continues to proliferate. Although we cannot predict with certainty the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our full year 2021 financial results, we currently expect that our first quarter 2021 fiscal year financial results will continue to be negatively impacted by the pandemic to a material degree.

 

In addition, the ultimate extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on travel, regional and global markets, and overall economic activity remains difficult to predict. Therefore, the ultimate extent and duration of the impact of COVID-19 on our business, results of operations, liquidity and financial condition remains largely uncertain and is dependent on future developments that cannot be accurately predicted at this time, such as the continued resurgence and severity of the virus, continued transmission rate of COVID-19, the extent and effectiveness of

 

28


 

containment actions taken, the timing or extent of widespread distribution and administration of the vaccine, mobility and travel restrictions, and the impact of these and other factors on consumer travel behavior.

 

In response to the impact of COVID-19, we have taken several steps to further strengthen our financial position and balance sheet and maintain financial liquidity and flexibility during 2020, including, but not limited to, restructuring activities, reducing our ongoing operating expenses and headcount, additional borrowings of debt, and amendments to our 2015 Credit Facility, all of which are described in more detail below.

 

Liquidity

 

During the first quarter of 2020, we borrowed $700 million under the 2015 Credit Facility as a precautionary measure to reinforce our liquidity position and preserve financial flexibility in light of uncertainty in the global markets resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We repaid these borrowings during the three months ended September 30, 2020.

In May 2020, we amended our 2015 Credit Facility to, among other things, suspend the leverage ratio covenant on this facility beginning in the second quarter of 2020 and ending prior to September 30, 2021 or such earlier date as elected by the Company (such period, the “Leverage Covenant Holiday”), add a minimum liquidity covenant to be applicable during the Leverage Covenant Holiday, secure the obligations under the agreement, as well as downsize the capacity of the facility to $1.0 billion from $1.2 billion. In December 2020, we again amended the 2015 Credit Facility to, among other things, continue the suspension of the requirement for quarterly testing of compliance under the leverage ratio covenant until the earlier of (a) the first day after June 30, 2021 through maturity on which borrowings and other revolving credit utilizations under the revolving commitments exceed $200 million, and (b) the election of the Company (the “Covenant Changeover Date”), at which time the leverage ratio covenant will be reinstated. At this time, we also downsized the capacity to $500 million from $1.0 billion and extended the maturity date from May 12, 2022 to May 12, 2024. We believe this additional flexibility will be important given our continued limited ability to predict our future financial performance due to the uncertainty associated with COVID-19 as well as consumer behavior and restrictive measures put in place in response to COVID-19.

 

In addition, in July 2020, the Company completed the sale of $500 million aggregate principal amount of Senior Notes in a private offering. The Indenture pursuant to which the Senior Notes were issued provides, among other things, that interest will be payable on the Senior Notes at 7.000% per annum, on January 15 and July 15 of each year, beginning on January 15, 2021, until their maturity date of July 15, 2025. The Company used the net proceeds received of $490 million, net of debt issuances costs, to repay a portion of our 2015 Credit Facility borrowings.

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 further information about our 2015 Credit Facility and Senior Notes.

Cost Reduction Measures

During the first quarter of 2020, the Company instituted a cost reduction initiative to preserve cash flows, including targeted workforce reduction measures largely in the Experiences & Dining segment and optimizing and reducing brand advertising as the Company pivots to leverage newer mediums we believe will be more effective than our historically television-focused campaign.

During the latter part of the first quarter of 2020, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company instituted additional cost reduction measures, including the elimination of the majority of discretionary spending, business travel, non-critical vendor relationships, brand advertising, cessation of nearly all new hiring and contingent staff, reduction of targeted employee benefits and the furloughing of over 100 employees. On April 28, 2020, management approved and the Company announced an additional cost reduction initiative in response to the continued economic and financial impacts to the Company as a result of the COVID -19 pandemic, which included the following:

 

Enacting a workforce reduction eliminating more than 900 employees;

 

29


 

 

 

Furloughing additional employees bringing the total furloughed employees during March and April 2020 to approximately 850 employees, primarily in our European operations at The Fork; and

 

Making targeted reductions of the Company’s office lease portfolio, primarily either through subleasing or allowing property leases to expire.

By the end of the third quarter of 2020, a majority of the Company’s previously furloughed employees had returned to their jobs; however, during the fourth quarter of 2020, the Company again furloughed approximately 400 employees, primarily in our Europeans operations of The Fork. This action taken by the Company was a direct result of the reinstatement of government restrictions related to restaurants in various countries within Europe in response to the resurgence of COVID-19 in those markets.

 

During the year ended December 31, 2020, the Company incurred total pre-tax restructuring and other related reorganization costs of approximately $41 million as a result of these measures, all of which were paid by the Company as of December 31, 2020. 

CARES Act and Other Governmental Relief

In March 2020, the U.S. government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). The CARES Act is an emergency economic stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes numerous income tax provisions, some of which are effective retroactively. We anticipate that we will benefit from certain of these provisions, and have accordingly recorded income tax benefits of $23 million during year ended December 31, 2020.  

In addition, certain other governments have passed legislation to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic through loans, wage subsidies, tax relief or other financial aid. Some of these governments have extended or are considering extending these programs. The Company has participated in several of these programs, including the CARES Act in the U.S., the United Kingdom's job retention scheme, as well as other certain jurisdictions' programs. During the year ended December 31, 2020, we recognized government grants and other assistance benefits of $12 million, as a reduction of personnel and overhead costs in the consolidated statement of operations.

For further details of the income tax and other benefits recorded by the Company under the CARES Act and other governmental relief programs, refer to “Note 1: Organization and Business Description” and “Note 12: Income Taxes” in the notes to our consolidated financial statements in Item 8 on this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Hotels, Media & Platform Segment

In our Hotels, Media & Platform segment our strategic objective is to preserve profit and drive increased customer engagement and monetization on the Tripadvisor platform. We seek to achieve this by delivering consumers compelling products and holistic user experience as well as by offering travel partners a diverse set of advertising opportunities.

For consumers, we test and implement product enhancements that deliver a more engaging and comprehensive hotel shopping experience. This includes providing rich, immersive content – reviews, photos, videos and ratings, among other contributions – as well as increasing the number of travel partners and properties as well as the available hotel supply on our platform. We believe providing consumers tools to discover, research, price shop and book a comprehensive selection of accommodations helps increase brand awareness and brand loyalty and, over time, can result in deeper consumer engagement, more qualified leads delivered to travel partners and greater monetization on our platform.

We seek to monetize our influence through hotel-related product improvements, supply and marketing efforts and customer advertising opportunities. Historically, we have generated a significant amount of hotel shoppers from search engines, such as Google. A hotel shopper is a visitor to our sites that views either a listing of hotels in a city or a specific hotel page. Our key ongoing objective related to traffic acquisition is to attract or acquire hotel shoppers at or above our desired marketing return on investment targets. Over the long-term, we are focused on

 

30


 

driving a greater percentage of our traffic from direct traffic sources, which comes with little to no traffic acquisition costs.

Our business, including the Hotels, Media & Platform segment, has been adversely and materially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the primary and material driver of this segment’s unfavorable results during the year ended December 31, 2020 as noted in the “COVID-19” discussion above. During the third quarter of 2020, our Hotels, Media & Platform segment demonstrated modest month-over-month performance improvements; however, beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020, governments again, particularly in Europe, began to impose restrictions to mitigate the spread of the virus, which negatively impacted this recent trend, particularly in our European business. In addition, most notably in the pre-Covid time period, the Company experienced revenue headwinds in our SEO marketing channel, which we believe has been impacted by search engines (primarily Google) increasing the prominence of their own hotel products in search results and we expect this trend may continue.

We believe deepening consumer engagement on our platform will enable us to more significantly monetize our influence and eventually grow Hotels, Media & Platform segment revenue. For example, in Tripadvisor-branded display and platform revenue, we enable travel partners to amplify their brand, generate brand impressions, and potentially drive qualified leads and bookings for their businesses. Historically, we have limited both the type and number of display-based advertising opportunities we make available to travel partners, particularly on mobile phone, which, in turn, has limited display-based advertising revenue growth. However, we continue to work on initiatives to better leverage our audience, content, data, travel influence and platform breadth to open up new media advertising opportunities through a more modern, high-powered advertising suite spanning native, video and programmatic solutions. We intend to broaden our solution to a larger set of advertising travel endemic and non-travel endemic advertising partners, including industries such as airlines and finance.

In addition, we have historically and will continue to focus on initiatives to increase our traffic quality and deepen customer engagement on our platform, including driving membership growth, increasing personalization, and innovating our mobile app experience. We believe improving the user experience on our platform will lead to higher monetization over time. Further, we believe there remains an opportunity to continue to grow our member base, as well as to deepen member engagement by making membership more valued, building communities and leveraging our content to further personalize trip-planning features. As an example, during December 2020, we introduced direct-to-consumer initiatives, which included a beta-launch of an annual subscription-based membership that offers discounts to consumers for hotels and experiences, and also a travel concierge service that connects travelers with a curated community of expert trip designers in local travel destinations.

Experiences & Dining Segment

Our Experiences & Dining offerings contribute to the comprehensive user experience we deliver, which we believe helps to increase awareness of, loyalty to, and engagement with our products, drive more bookings to Experiences & Dining partners and generate greater revenue and increased profitability on our platform. Given the significant market opportunities in these large categories, we expect to continue to invest in building these offerings to drive consumer engagement, bookings and revenue growth for the long-term.

During the year ended December 31, 2020, our Experiences & Dining segment’s financial results were adversely and materially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants across European markets saw restrictions ease during the second quarter of 2020, which was met with an increase in consumer demand. As a result, in the month of September 2020, TheFork business unit, primarily based in Europe, had largely regained the revenue level of the prior year’s comparable period; however, beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020, governments again, particularly in Europe, imposed new restrictions to try to mitigate the resurgence of the virus, which negatively and materially impacted this recent trend.

Throughout the pandemic, we have explored new initiatives to delight and engage consumers. For example, we began offering virtual tours to our consumers, as well as the beta-launch of an annual subscription-based membership, as discussed above, which offers consumers discounts on experience bookings. This is in addition to other recent initiatives, such as the recent rollout of a new payment option in late 2019, which enables consumers to reserve certain experience activities and defer payment until a date no later than two days before the experience date.

 

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In December 2019, we acquired U.K.-based Bookatable, which offers an online restaurant reservation and booking platform. This further strengthened our position in certain of our existing European markets as well as expands us into new countries for our Dining offering, such as the U.K., Germany, Austria, Finland and Norway. TheFork’s online restaurant booking platform, including Bookatable, had approximately 76,000 total bookable restaurants as of December 31, 2020.

Other

Other is a combination of our Rentals, Flights & Car, and Cruise businesses and is not considered a reportable segment. Profits and revenues have declined during the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, similar to our other business units, and to a lesser extent, due to the sale of our SmarterTravel business in the second quarter of 2020. We continue to operate these businesses opportunistically as they complement our overall strategic objectives to deliver more value to consumers and travel partners.

Consolidated Results of Operations

 

A discussion regarding our financial condition and results of operations for fiscal year 2020 compared to fiscal year 2019 is presented below. A discussion regarding our financial condition and results of operations for fiscal year 2019 compared to fiscal year 2018 can be found in Part II, Item 7. "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC on February 19, 2020.

 

 

32


 

 

Results of Operations

Selected Financial Data

(in millions, except per share amounts and percentages)

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2020 vs. 2019

 

 

2019 vs. 2018

 

Revenue

 

$

604

 

 

$

1,560

 

 

$

1,615

 

 

 

(61

)%

 

 

(3

)%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue

 

 

55

 

 

 

94

 

 

 

86

 

 

 

(41

)%

 

 

9

%

Selling and marketing

 

 

316

 

 

 

672

 

 

 

778

 

 

 

(53

)%

 

 

(14

)%

Technology and content

 

 

220

 

 

 

293

 

 

 

275

 

 

 

(25

)%

 

 

7

%

General and administrative

 

 

173

 

 

 

187

 

 

 

177

 

 

 

(7

)%

 

 

6

%

Depreciation and amortization

 

 

125

 

 

 

126

 

 

 

116

 

 

 

(1

)%

 

 

9

%

Impairment of goodwill

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

n.m.

 

 

n.m.

 

Restructuring and other related reorganization costs

 

 

41

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

n.m.

 

 

n.m.

 

Total costs and expenses:

 

 

933

 

 

 

1,373

 

 

 

1,432

 

 

 

(32

)%

 

 

(4

)%

Operating income (loss)

 

 

(329

)

 

 

187

 

 

 

183

 

 

n.m.

 

 

 

2

%

Other income (expense):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest expense

 

 

(35

)

 

 

(7

)

 

 

(12

)

 

 

400

%

 

 

(42

)%

Interest income

 

 

3

 

 

 

17

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

(82

)%

 

 

143

%

Other income (expense), net

 

 

(8

)

 

 

(3

)

 

 

(5

)

 

 

167

%

 

 

(40

)%

Total other income (expense), net

 

 

(40

)

 

 

7

 

 

 

(10

)

 

n.m.

 

 

n.m.

 

Income (loss) before income taxes

 

 

(369

)

 

 

194

 

 

 

173

 

 

n.m.

 

 

 

12

%

(Provision) benefit for income taxes

 

 

80

 

 

 

(68

)

 

 

(60

)

 

n.m.

 

 

 

13

%

Net income (loss)

 

$

(289

)

 

$

126

 

 

$

113

 

 

n.m.

 

 

 

12

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other financial data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusted EBITDA (1)

 

$

(51

)

 

$

438

 

 

$

422

 

 

n.m.

 

 

 

4

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

n.m. = not meaningful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Revenue and Segment Information

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2020 vs. 2019

 

 

2019 vs. 2018

 

Revenue by Segment:

 

(in millions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotels, Media & Platform

 

$

361

 

 

$

939

 

 

$

1,001

 

 

 

(62

)%

 

 

(6

)%

Experiences & Dining

 

 

186

 

 

 

456

 

 

 

372

 

 

 

(59

)%

 

 

23

%

Other

 

 

57

 

 

 

165

 

 

 

242

 

 

 

(65

)%

 

 

(32

)%

Total revenue

 

$

604

 

 

$

1,560

 

 

$

1,615

 

 

 

(61

)%

 

 

(3

)%

Adjusted EBITDA by Segment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotels, Media & Platform

 

$

13

 

 

$

378

 

 

$

329

 

 

 

(97

)%

 

 

15

%

Experiences & Dining

 

 

(79

)

 

 

5

 

 

 

48

 

 

n.m.

 

 

 

(90

)%

Other

 

 

15

 

 

 

55

 

 

 

45

 

 

 

(73

)%

 

 

22

%

Total Adjusted EBITDA

 

$

(51

)

 

$

438

 

 

$

422

 

 

n.m.

 

 

 

4

%

Adjusted EBITDA Margin by Segment (1):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotels, Media & Platform

 

 

4

%

 

 

40

%

 

 

33

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experiences & Dining

 

 

(42

%)

 

 

1

%

 

 

13

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other

 

 

26

%

 

 

33

%

 

 

19

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33


 

 

 

n.m. = not meaningful

 

 

(1)

“Adjusted EBITDA Margin by Segment” is defined as Adjusted EBITDA by segment divided by revenue by segment.

Hotels, Media & Platform Segment

Hotels, Media & Platform segment revenue decreased by $578 million during the year ended December 31, 2020, when compared to the same period in 2019, primarily due to the impacts of COVID-19 as discussed above.

Adjusted EBITDA in our Hotels, Media & Platform segment decreased $365 million, during the year ended December 31, 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019. This was primarily due to a decrease in revenue, partially offset by reductions in television advertising costs, direct selling and marketing expenses related to SEM, and other online paid traffic acquisition costs in response to a decline in consumer demand related to COVID-19 and, to a lesser extent, a reduction in personnel costs as a result of workforce reductions.

The following is a detailed discussion of the revenue sources within our Hotels, Media & Platform segment:

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019