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TripAdvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Feb 19, 2021, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to Tripadvisor's Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

At this time, I would like to turn the conference call over to Tripadvisor's Vice President of Investor Relations, Mr. Will Lyons. Please go ahead.

Will Lyons -- Vice President-Investor Relations

Thanks, Liz. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our call. Joining me today is our CEO, Steve Kaufer and our CFO, Ernst Teunissen.

Last night, after market close, we distributed and filed our fourth quarter and full year 2020 earnings release and made available our shareholder letter on our Investor Relations website. In the release, you will find reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to the most comparable GAAP financial measures discussed on this call. On our IR site, you will find supplemental financial information, which includes reconciliations of certain non-GAAP financial measures discussed on this call as well as other metrics. Also, I'll note that comments regarding costs and cost saving levels referenced on this call do not consider depreciation, amortization, restructuring and other related reorganization costs or stock-based compensation.

Before we begin, I would like to remind you that this call may contain estimates and other forward-looking statements that represent management's views as of today, February 19, 2020 -- 2021. Tripadvisor disclaims any obligation to update these statements to reflect future events or circumstances. Please refer to our earnings release as well as our filings with the SEC for information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements.

And with that, I'll pass the call to Steve.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Will, and good morning, everyone. 2020 was a challenging year and fundamentally optimistic. Inflection curves have been, vaccines are being distributed. And from what we see on our site and hear in our research, travelers are all eager to get back out and explore the world. As we've described in our shareholder letter, we made a bunch of tough decisions last year. We also showed up our liquidity thought to work helping customers make the best of the current situation with initiatives like travel safe. And most importantly from my perspective, we prepared Tripadvisor to emerge as a stronger, more focused company when travel comes back. And I'm really proud of what we accomplished.

We soft launched our new Tripadvisor Plus product in record time. We're focused on making the core experience of Tripadvisor more engaging and personal for all travelers. And we've got some great teams in place growing our exciting restaurants and attraction businesses. We entered 2021 excited about the important role that Tripadvisor can play in the recovery. It is based upon our historical reputation as a trusted guidance platform, but also because for new initiatives that are ready to help travelers take amazing trips.

Let me also take a minute to thank everyone at TRIP for their commitment during this past year. Know that your hard work is what has positioned our company to help hundreds of millions of travelers get back out on that road again. And all of that makes 2021 look like a pretty exciting year for us.

Ernst, let me turn it over to you for additional thoughts.

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Steve, and good morning, everyone. Our fourth quarter mirrored most of the financial themes of our previous 2020 earnings calls that we've done. Lessen our control, of course, has been how COVID has continue to impact revenue with all of our business lines very much impacted again in Q4, but uneven stories by geography and type of business. For instance, our restaurants revenue performed very strongly in Q3 as most of the European restaurants were open and then took a step back again in Q4 with most of Europe locking down. And restaurants might be among the first revenue lines to actually benefit again when Europe reopens again.

Consistent financial themes that have been more in our control are driving significant cost savings, ensuring a solid liquidity position and laying the groundwork for compelling and profitable growth when the pandemic finally subsides. On the cost savings side, we more than achieved our target of $200 million of fixed and discretionary savings in 2020 versus 2019. And we entered 2021 a more efficient and leaner company. Of course, the reduction in variable cost mostly performance-based marketing was actually significantly larger even than $200 million, but most of that expense will return. But the $200 million of savings we have achieved, we're very proud to have achieved. And we think the majority of that we will be able to keep as savings going forward.

I want to point out one thing in our Q4 financial results is that the majority of the sequential expense increase in Q4 versus Q3 was due to an increase in our full year compensation expense. As such, $12 million of that Q4 expense is not indicative of the underlying quarterly run rate that we take with us into 2021. While we anticipate prudently increasing investments as the pandemic eases and revenue and demand comes back, as I said, we expect that the majority of these 2020 fixed cost savings will persist in 2021 and beyond. And our fundamentally leaner cost structure positions us for operating leverage, better margins as revenue returns.

We've also strengthened our liquidity position again in Q4. We renegotiated our credit facility to extend maturity to May 2024 and to extend our leverage covenant holiday for part of the facility, and both of these have provided us with increased financial flexibility. With over $400 million of cash at the end of December as well as $500 million of additional available borrowing capacity under our credit facility, we believe we are very well capitalized. We have been throughout this pandemic and are right now focused on driving customer value across our diverse revenue lines. And we're getting ready to catch the wave when travel inevitably bounces back.

So in summary, despite uneven travel recovery trends in Q4 2020 and in early 2021, the current backdrop makes us increasingly optimistic that travel could come roaring back as early as the second half of the year. More importantly, we have positioned the company well in terms of future growth potential and margins.

With that, we will open it up for your questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Lloyd Walmsley with Deutsche Bank.

Lloyd Walmsley -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Thanks, guys. A couple if I can. First, Steve, could you give us a sense for where you are in terms of establishing key relationships with your OTAs, hotels, other kind of companies to directly buildup supply of kind of discounts and perks for Tripadvisor Plus? And what is the roadmap for adding new benefits for subscribers of Tripadvisor Plus?

And then second one would just be, can you give us a sense of how the unit economics work? How you're kind of providing the discounts? Who is funding those? And what the puts and takes are for you guys, for hotel supplier or at OTA for participating in that? Thanks.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Certainly. Thanks, Lloyd. Excellent questions. So when we talk about Tripadvisor Plus it really comes to the proverbial win-win-win. For the travelers, they're getting these amazing discounts, the perks. It's something that's turning their trip into fabulous. When it comes to Tripadvisor, we're making some money on the actual subscription in building up what we hope to be a wonderful recurring revenue stream.

For your hotelier, and that's really where your question started, we've changed -- we are changing the model, whereby folks like Tripadvisor would ordinarily take a commission on the hotel sale and we're going direct to the hotel and say, instead of paying us, let's offer that discount directly to the consumer. So if you might have been paying X percentage to your other distribution channel, let's instead offer that same percentage, but as a discount. Tripadvisor passes it directly along to the Plus subscriber where subscriber get the deal.

Now when you add the value of the perk and you add the value of the discount, it becomes something pretty compelling for the consumer, back to that original win, and something that's well within the availability of the hotelier to offer that package at the same or better travel distribution cost as they go through for other channels. And so the win for the hoteliers, they get access to this club on Tripadvisor. They get preferred placement on the Tripadvisor site, so more visibility for their property. They get a guest that's perhaps higher end, perhaps likely to stay longer at a distribution cost that's the same as lower -- the same or lower as many of their other channels.

The unit cost, if you will, for Plus, from Tripadvisor's perspective, we have practically speaking no cost of goods on us delivering on the service. We have some level of customer support, that's fine. But we make our revenue on the trends -- on the subscription fee for Tripadvisor Plus. And then the next time somebody comes back to Tripadvisor because they are a member, they might be booking in the traction, will make a decent margin on there even after passing the discount back to the consumer. Travelers will also come back to Tripadvisor to plan other parts of their trip. And again, making us a preferred place for those subscribers to start their travel planning, all of which building into our repeat story.

To answer your other question on roadmap for new benefits for subscribers, we expect to be launching -- when we'll launch more fully throughout the U.S., we'll be adding some additional benefits that we'll announce at that time. And we can see a very straightforward plan over the course of this year and next to add additional benefits that helps make people, that helps make traveler, term travelers into savvy travelers.

So again, you start with hotels and experiences because those are the things you book on our site today are quite valuable, the amount of savings, you can differentiate on the perks, but we're also going well beyond that in the travel category. Our goal is nothing less than building an affordable travel subscription product that pretty much everyone would love to be a part of travelers because it turns them into better travelers no matter where they're going. And I don't want to repeat myself, but we think it's going to be a great offering.

Lloyd Walmsley -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Thanks. Good luck. It's very interesting product. Excited to see it unfold.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you very much.

Operator

Your next question comes from Richard Clarke with Bernstein.

Richard Clarke -- Bernstein -- Analyst

Good morning. Thanks very much for taking my questions. Just a question to start with on your guidance into Q1 about revenues flat to [Technical Issue] compared to pre-pandemic that would make [Technical Issue] and more than Q4. So maybe if you could break that down between different geographies, different components. What are you seeing -- what's getting worse, better? And then second, follow-up question around your additional [Technical Issue] What is the nature of that? Is that just sort of bringing up the bonus pool for the full year? Where did that one-off cost come from?

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

Richard, I'll take those questions. Thank you for those questions. Firstly, about the first quarter, yeah, there are a number of things that go into Q4 and Q1, different revenue streams. Europe is obviously a big impact on our business today, the lockdowns in Europe. And that has impacted our European business broadly, our Fork business. The restaurant business, of course, is very skewed to Europe, so that's making impact. And the lockdown progressed throughout Q4 in Europe and we expect to take that into the first quarter. And that's where the -- what's the bases for what we've provided as guidance for Q1.

Having said that, we also pointed out that February is a marked uptick in the quarter. And so we have seen at least some improving fundamentals in the business coming up again. And that bodes well for hopefully the rest of the quarter and for the first half more broadly. But this is the -- the lockdown in Europe, in particular, is behind the cautious outlook for the first quarter.

The second question, the $12 million of additional cost in Q4 that we said is really should be taken out of the run rate, if you do your analysis. Yes, that was an additional expense in compensation. That was indeed based on bonuses. We accrued throughout the year a low bonus percentage. And at the end of the year, we decided with our board to up that. It's still well below 100% for the year, but higher than we originally accrued for. And so as we've pointed out, although that all hits our Q4 P&L, really you should take out $12 million of that if you want to take a run rate for the quarter and start to project that into the following year.

Richard Clarke -- Bernstein -- Analyst

That's very clear. Thanks very much.

Operator

Your next question comes from Naved Khan with Truist Securities.

Naved Khan -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Hi. Thanks a lot. Maybe a quick follow-up on Trip Plus, and maybe I'll start with a clarification. So if a participating hotel that's giving perks to the members is booked through an OTA, would the travelers still receive the perks or is it only on direct bookings? And then can you just maybe give us a sense of the size of the beta, what percentage of the traffic that's eligible as getting exposed to this and how should we expect that to grow as the year progresses?

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

Certainly. Thanks, Naved. Steve, I'll take that. So to your first question, no, all of the perks and discounts are available to travelers when they subscribe to Tripadvisor Plus first. And then, of course, they -- not of course, I suppose, but then they do have to complete the booking on Tripadvisor. We have a very solid booking flow, we will store your credit cards, we'll make it easy. And we're building that repeat behavior where you come in what we call that no-brainer moment where this hotel for your five nights stay, it has a $250 discount, which is close to our average at this point. You then take a $99 subscription fee, you're still -- travelers still saving meaningful dollars right now and they book through the Tripadvisor booking flow.

Traveler comes back, they get a similar discount the next trip they're going to take perhaps, and of course they have already paid that fee. So it's all drop into savings whether that traveler then chooses to spend that savings on amazing new experiences that they found on our site or anything else that they're looking for, that's up to them.

To the question of beta rollout, yes, we're still in pretty early days. We're excited by the fact that it's out. We're testing. We're learning. It's [Indecipherable] kind of U.S. audience only at this point. And we've shared that we will be rolling it out to the rest of our U.S. traffic in the first half of the year. And then we go beyond in other English markets at some point after that.

We are very excited about the opportunity that Trip represents. I talked about having a 160 million times when we looked at our 2019 numbers where travelers were expressing enough interest in looking at a specific property such that they were using our meta auctioning clicking off to an OTA or supplier direct. That's a 160 million times we think of it as shots on goal. 160 million opportunities for Tripadvisor with Tripadvisor Plus to say, hey, on a lot of these properties, we have an amazing discount and a perk that's going to make you, the customer, a savvy traveler. It's part of the Tripadvisor Plus subscription, please come subscribe, make your money back or close to it in the very first purchase and get the benefits for an entire year. That savings can go into making a better trip, that savings can go into your bank. And the audiences, folks who are not only taking this one trip, but are likely to come back to Tripadvisor over and over again over the course of the year. So it doesn't take a high conversion percentage for when your denominator is 160 million opportunities to be able to find the set of audience that's quite excited about this product.

Naved Khan -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Got it. A quick follow-up, if I may. As you kind of plan for a recovery that it takes hold as the year goes on, any plans of increasing your ad spending as we -- sort of ahead of that as you have the bookings that happened in advance and things like that? How should we be thinking about your ad spend?

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

So I would say we have so much traffic on our site today that we don't feel a need to reach out to market space on not known or paid channels. Of course, our paid marketing, our regular performance marketing will grow as traffic returns. It's really just a function of our kind of standard operating procedure. When it relates to Plus specifically, again, I talked about that 100 plus million number of people who are already potentially Plus clients, and we don't need to reach outside of Tripadvisor to talk to those folks.

Ernst, do you want to add anything?

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

No, I think that's correct, Steve. Outside of the business, as we've said before, is the marketing expenses mostly going to be variable with revenue.

Naved Khan -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Understood. Thank you, both.

Operator

Your next question comes from Tom White with DA Davidson.

Tom White -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking my question. Two if I may. Thanks for the color on Trip Plus there, Steve. It sounds like the platform is kind of heading down the road of becoming more kind of transactional I guess. I might be just curious to kind of hear your thoughts on maybe how your initial push into making Tripadvisor more of a transactional site with back from the instant booking days. Maybe kind of what the big learnings from that were and how that's going to inform the rollout here? And then maybe also, just an update on where you guys stand in terms of leveraging customer data, some of you guys have talked about prior calls. Just would love to get an update on how those initiatives are coming?

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Thanks, Tom. Excellent question. Learnings from Instant Book and past transaction on Tripadvisor, I would say Instant Book taught us a lot about how to be an effective transaction platform. We did a ton of bookings when Instant Book was rolled out throughout the site. We did it on a global scale. We had a lot of partners involved. And we succeeded in delivering a lot of bookings for a lot of customers. Where it didn't work as well as we had hoped with Instant Book was simply we did not offer a compelling additional value proposition to the user as to why they should book on Tripadvisor versus their other choices out in the marketplace.

And so when we take it forward and look at Tripadvisor Plus, it looks like Instant Book a little bit because the transactions on Tripadvisor, but the whole message is completely different. Here we're talking about a subscription service to make you a savvy, to make that traveler a savvy traveler, getting compelling, immediate, instant value for going down the transaction path with us, subscribing to Tripadvisor Plus and getting that immediate savings or that immediate room upgrade, that immediate set of benefits that compel someone to say, [Indecipherable] a straightforward choice.

Tripadvisor Plus may not have the frequency of something like an Amazon Prime, but we do have that immediate logical benefit of we're going to help you have a better trip right now. You'll save $200, you can take the private tour instead of the group tour, fairly straightforward. We're adding, as I mentioned before, more of the non-transactional components to turn you into a smarter traveler when you're actually in destination, to help you when things go wrong. And again, we'll be adding more of that over the year.

So the learnings from Instant Book, we know how to do. We know how to work in a transaction environment in hotels because we've done it before. That's great. Clearly, one of the reasons we were able to launch the product in such a short time period. And I don't want to -- I want to make sure to mention that we are also adapted being a transaction site as we've been selling experiences on Tripadvisor for many, many years now. So again, people may think of Tripadvisor or some people may think of Tripadvisor as a review site, but we've been selling travel for quite some time.

To the second question on more of that we're doing in customer with our customer data. It certainly plays an important role internally as we launch Trip and have offers going out to existing members, existing contributors, folks who already have a relationship with Tripadvisor that we can identify. And then as we've shared in prior calls, our targeting capabilities in our media business is getting better and better. So we're just able to more effectively create campaigns that serve our advertisers in a better way with the additional capabilities that we've been building in the system, some of which have launched, other pieces of which are still in development.

Tom White -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for the details, Steve.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Mario Lu with Barclays.

Mario Lu -- Barclays -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking the question. I have another one on Plus and one on alternative accommodations. So the one on Plus, just wanted to take a step back and talk more broadly about the genesis of the product. I just wanted to hear your thoughts on why you think Tripadvisor is uniquely positioned to succeed with the subscription product versus say the traditional OTAs? And then secondly on alternative accommodations, they are continuing to gain share versus hotels within your travel industry. So just curious to see if anything has changed in terms of your strategy in this category to either ramp up supply or add more partnerships to show more listings in this category? Thanks.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Thank you, Mario. Two excellent questions. So on the Plus side, that was your first question, we've studied the behavior of travelers on Tripadvisor for so many years now. And obviously, people are coming, they're looking, they're getting great guidance. And then our monetization model was advertising on the site and then getting those travelers to leave us and book on supplier or OTA sites. That worked. Built $1.6 billion. All good. But we've is known that there was this notion of a leaky bucket. We're sending folks, the travelers away to book elsewhere. And many of them do take the trip, but they don't book right away and we lose credit for that.

There's also the notion while our meta engine finds a good price for people, it doesn't by definition find a better price or offer better traveler experience than what is out there, than what that user could find themselves. We help them find it easier, but it's not unique, it's not exclusive. And obviously, there's many other meta players. So we sat and we thought, what do travelers want? They want to have a better experience. They want their dollars to grow further. What do we have? We have a ton of travelers on our site taking all types of trips. So if we start with that consumer value proposition, how could we provide real discounts, amazing perks in a way that the customer isn't able to find that value proposition through their other channels, through the traditional places that they book or through other meta sites.

And we came up with this notion of well, if we put it behind a subscription wall, there is an established model of being able to offer discounts and perks to folks that are behind industry problems, behind this pay gate and could that be a model that works? So we asked first, hey, would the customer be interested in this and with our service and with discounts and perks? The answer was clearly yes. Then how could we market this product to an audience? Would we be able to find -- would people on Tripadvisor be interested in this product? And as I shared, a 160 million times in 2019 that people were building or interested in expensive trip, interesting enough to be clicking off of our site in our meta option, and we picked $750 because you take a 15% discount on us, $750 purchase, you're equating it to that membership price of $99.

So can we find the audience to be able to educate about this product? The answer is clearly yes, because they are already on our site. And then we asked, will hoteliers give us these discounts and perks? And as I explained in the earlier question, like, yes, because it still has the opportunity to be a lower cost of distribution for the hotelier than the other channels that they use. So again, by getting the extra visibility on Tripadvisor at a distribution cost equal or better than what they're otherwise paying, that seems very straightforward from a hotelier perspective. And we've been finding up hotels in addition to our aggregators, been signing up direct hotels that say, it sounds great. Let me give it whirl. And we continue to do that with our direct sales force.

And then, will travelers be willing to transact on Tripadvisor? As I shared in the earlier question with Instant Book, clearly people were willing to do so when we said we have ton of experiences on Tripadvisor. So that's really not a -- do we need permission from our travelers? Tripadvisor is already a trusted site and they've already proven that they will go down that transaction flow.

And again, it's -- we have this as an additional product on top of our auction. The auction is not going away. And if you don't find the ideal property in our set of Plus opportunities, there is a beautiful meta option. You're already on our site and you click off and you get the exact properties that you're looking for. So Tripadvisor, we serve for -- in pre-COVID days, we were north of 400 million you use a month, you could think of it as we serve a billion travelers a year. And if -- I have to say this carefully, but if it's only 10 million that sign up for Tripadvisor Plus, that's still less than 1% of our annual traffic, but 10 million sign ups times $100, then obviously the math looks pretty nicely in a recurring subscription revenue.

So I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. This is not going to happen overnight. We have a lot of suppliers we want to go sign up. But it is a huge market. We have our own Tripadvisor channel to reach users when they are shopping. We're trusted as a brand. And post-COVID, we think the regular traveler is ready to embrace a subscription product. Subscription products in general have -- they've been doing quite well. And it's not us, but others, many others have been educating consumers on the notion of signing up for something on an annual basis.

So versus the OTAs or supplier directs, they're going to win, we're going to win. It's not a one or the other by any stretch. As I said, your auction will continue to be quite healthy. But our ability to hand the commission that the hotel is ready to pay their distribution channel back to the customer I think enables us to offer discounts in a way that is very hard to match from other more traditional channels.

Mario Lu -- Barclays -- Analyst

Great. Excellent, thanks.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Your second question, shorter answer to the second question, alternative accommodations, absolutely we see alternative accommodations continue to grow. We had a pretty good last summer on our site for our rental inventory. It's just a smaller piece of our overall pie. And so we do look to grow choice. We do look at some point to be able to integrating the rental experience into Tripadvisor Plus because those travelers are also planning rental stays. We don't have anything kind of new to report at the moment, but please understand we are keenly aware of consumers' interest in this type of inventory. And the fact that we have a hotel auction that gets inventory from lots of different places, obviously, we have a rental -- it's not really an auction, but we have the rental display that also gets inventory from multiple sources, and we do look to expand that over time.

Mario Lu -- Barclays -- Analyst

Got it. Very helpful. Thank you.

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

I would add to that is underlying what Steve is saying here about the fact that we have a broad platform, including rentals. But I also want to point out that the -- in this pandemic, the rental business has benefited because of the travel trends that were specific to the pandemic, of course. So people making more local trips, not traveling by car and offline. And so although it's been an important development this year, there will be some degree of reversion to the mean when the pandemic has gone and people start to feel comfortable flying again, feel comfortable staying in hotels. So I wouldn't -- I would caution to overestimating the trend for the long-term.

Mario Lu -- Barclays -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you, both.

Operator

Your next question comes from Jed Kelly with Oppenheimer.

Jed Kelly -- Oppenheimer -- Analyst

Hey, great. Thanks for taking my question. One on Plus and then just one on current trends. So just on Tripadvisor Plus, Steve, Ernst, how are you thinking about having enough supply or what execution do you need to do to prevent like a natural churn issue? And then like will you actually -- like when you're about to book a hotel, that's when like the Plus option might come up, if you pay $99, you can save on Plus? And then just real quick on current half trends. As we've seen cases have a decent decline here in the U.S., I mean have you seen an improvement over the last couple of weeks in traveler interest?

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Great. Thanks, Jed. Perhaps, I'll take the first one and turn to Ernst for the recent trends. Your question is, how we're thinking about supply voting [Phonetic] in natural churn. Was the natural churn on -- were you thinking on the hotel side or on the customer side?

Jed Kelly -- Oppenheimer -- Analyst

Customer side, right? Like -- all right. Yeah.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

So -- yeah, we're using -- to answer the supply side first, we're using kind of traditional discount aggregators to bring up 100,000 plus properties online quickly offering discounts, other perk aggregators where they've already negotiated with the hotel to get a wonderful set of perks and make these properties really kind of standout from the rest, and that's been our launch.

We have been signing individual hotels with our direct sales force. Fortunately for us, though we have, call it, 1 million plus pieces of launching on our site, there is a popular head to that, if you will, when you look at where people are planning expensive trips. That list narrows down quite a bit. And we're using our direct sales force to call into those properties, tell them about Plus, share the easy decision that we think it is for them to give it a try. We don't look for long-term contracts. We don't look for guaranteed. Every room is discounted. They can tune the channel to meet their needs of being able to get more reservations.

So when we think about the question on churn, when you -- if you're in the beta mix, you'll see that there are lots of hotels that are available for Plus. It's not a majority or anything like that, but in most cities you'll find several choices. We look to expand that tremendously, of course, with more partners and more direct sales. There is no challenging availability right now. So plenty of opportunity to meet the consumer demand.

When we think about churn, we think yes. When -- purchase and then churn. We think the traveler looking at a city and going to -- I'm going to Miami, I'm looking at hotels. This is a Plus property because I see it's being merchandise with a discount and a perk. I'd log in to see what the actual discount is. And I can't transact on that discount unless I buy the Trip subscription along the way. Of course, at any point I can click off to a traditional OTA and pay that rate, but the Tripadvisor Plus rate is better. The discount we're offering, that's the reason the hotel got to be at the top of our shortlist.

So it's a compelling inflow opportunity for us to market Tripadvisor Plus. And then assuming the customer buys, they are good for a whole year. And so they come back and they see a lot more opportunities to save money with any hotel purchase that they're making based upon the discounts and the perks that we have, they get their 10% off tractions and the rest of the benefits.

Even though I keep talking about how most Plus subscriptions are paying for themselves in the very first purchase, we fully expect the people that are buying Plus to take multiple trips over the course of the year. And every time they are taking that additional trip, it's a pure savings moment for them. Perhaps at the end of the year, we remind them, hey, it looks like you booked 6 hotels with us, here's the grand total. You saved $872. Time for the $99 renewal, trying to make that very much a no-brainer moment when it comes to renewing Tripadvisor Plus for next year.

So obviously it's a subscription business, there will always be some level of churn, but the target audience here is taking more than one trip a year. They're already saving the cost of the subscription in general in that first purchase. So it doesn't take much to ask that traveler, do you think you're going to take at least one more trip over the coming year? Answer is yes. They've had a great experience the first year of where we go.

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

And Jed, to your second question, yeah, we did see January sort of starts softly, but February improved, seen revenue tick up more than we usually see from January to February. So that's positive. We've seen a market increase of the searches for 90 days plus out versus what we had seen in the three months before. So that was something that gives some positivity there. And so we -- February definitely starting off so far better than we expected or than we have seen in January, but it's very mixed across the businesses, as you can imagine.

The U.S. has been actually doing reasonably well. We called out in January, we had in our hotel auction, North America was roughly 50% of the year before where Europe was just much, much lower. And so we've seen the difference play out between the U.S. with relatively few travel restrictions in place versus Europe. We just see that in our numbers. And so we're looking forward to travel restrictions. Hopefully, the rollout of the vaccine and hopefully with the subsiding number of cases that we are seeing right now also to start to apply in Europe over time and see some of these trends improve both in North America and in Europe.

Jed Kelly -- Oppenheimer -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Eric Sheridan with UBS.

Eric Sheridan -- UBS -- Analyst

Thanks so much for taking the question. I won't ask anymore Plus, I think we've talked about that. But generally pivoting back to sort of the scope and your working view on the recovery. Anything you can give us about how you think where you sit in the broader marketing funnel will play out as demand starts to pick up again and whether you'll be a leading or lagging indicator or how conversations continue emerge with your advertisers in terms of how they might utilize the platform on the other side of COVID versus the world we're in 2019 and earlier?

And then going to the local and experiences side, do you think you need to do a lot there on either growing the inventory scale or letting your travelers and consumers know that you have those offerings out in the marketplace or do you think it's just a function of end demand opening that up to see recovery in those businesses coming out over the next couple of years? Thanks guys.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Great. Thanks, Eric. Two excellent questions in there. So scope of the recovery -- a very good question, a very tough question to answer. We certainly have seen traffic on Tripadvisor. People are planning or thinking about trip not go down nearly as much as travel actually went down. So in that sense, we're a leading indicator that people still want to travel, they're still searching, they're still coming back. Our UU dropped, unique user dropped, again, lot less than our revenue dropped because they're not yet booking, but they're -- think of it -- they're dreaming.

So as we predict, as we hope in the second quarter as people certainly in the U.S. may have their vaccination dates scheduled, they would get more excited about planning that trip knowing that they will be vaccinated on X and Y date. So I think it would be a good kind of leading indicator from a marketing perspective. And businesses that want to get in front of those customers when they are thinking about that similar trip, I would argue, would do wise to leverage the eyeballs that are on our platform today in the planning moments.

Ernst, do you want to add something to that?

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. I would add, maybe if you look at our business line by business line, what we've seen last year is that restaurants actually has just as much more quickly than the rest of the business to improvement. So in Q3, when restaurants were opened in Europe, our business was straight back to the 2019 levels and in some countries actually above. So I expect that line of business to do better.

Experiences has been lagging and is likely to lag in the recovery. And then if you look at for instance at our hotel auction, because of our revenue recognition being different than an OTA model, we may see revenue earlier than OTAs may see revenue. We recognize revenue on the actual click and OTAs recognize revenue broadly on stay. So that may be an early indicator for us or a leader rather than a laggard in our business.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

And then on the...

Eric Sheridan -- UBS -- Analyst

Thanks so much.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Experiences, the question is, the supplier awareness or just to demand. At the moment, it's certainly just a demand question -- people taking those leisure trips, looking to do that exciting activity. But when those leisure trips do rebound, we feel for our core audience in Western Europe, in the U.S. We think we have most of the supply that we needed. They are constantly adding more, but we don't think of it as a supply throttled. We're looking to build up the demand and build up the sort of inspirational quality of what we are presenting as things to do in these tourist destinations because between why tour and Tripadvisor, we certainly have -- we feel we have enough eyeballs. We have enough travelers taking the types of trips for the booking experiences. But we did help them make that commitment to book it online as opposed to wait and book it in destination.

It's a different answer if you reach all the way out to Asia in terms of the supply question. But for our core markets, I think it's mostly traveler getting back to taking the trips that including experiences, i.e., nobody in the U.S. is headed to the Vatican right now to get the amazing tours of the museums there. When that comes back, we will be more than ready to go.

Eric Sheridan -- UBS -- Analyst

Thanks so much for the color, guys.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Kevin Kopelman with Cowen.

Kevin Kopelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Great. Thanks a lot. Just a quick follow-up. Could you talk a little bit more about the initial learnings from the beta test on Plus? And what kind of conversion rates -- initial conversion rates you're seeing and what's the realistic goal over time? Thanks.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. So that of course is why we do a beta. We look to learn. And it's out to a decent portion of our U.S. traffic so that we're getting daily subscriptions, we're watching where we are in the funnel. It's too early to really talk about the conversion rates of where we're at. And we don't honestly know what the right target is. We certainly would hope that the discount and the perk would generate a pretty compelling reason to go into the funnel. Hey, I can save $300 here, that's pretty exciting. And then, again, we have the content from the hotels. We're making the transaction fairly straightforward. We're happy to store your credit cards. This will make it easy to come back. And then knocking down all the reasons why people will either get stuck or there is extra friction in the flow. But the core value proposition, I get early check-in, a late check-out. I get food plate in the room. I'm saving $200. This sounds like a really simple reason to book on Tripadvisor, to subscribe to Tripadvisor Plus. And that's sort of, if you will, replacing a user who is going to click off to the hotel side or an OTA for just that particular trip. And we feel like it's a better value for the traveler to book that Tripadvisor Plus offering. It makes economic sense for us and the hotel is happy because it's a less expensive distribution channel.

So again, win-win-win all around. And we'll be out of beta relatively soon as we look to expand the opportunity to both learn faster and just help more people start to realize the benefits of Trip Plus in advance of the peak summer travel season.

Kevin Kopelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Excellent. And as you think about the 160 million shots on goal, can you give us a sense of how much is that of your kind of overall hotel traffic or hotel ad revenue, just to give us a sense on that?

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

I don't offhand know, but in a sense, you could take all of our auction revenue, take a guess at our CPC and do some backwards math in terms of how many total clicks over the course of the year we might be generating. Of course, most of our travelers that are on our site for all the sets of reasons are looking for what I call the ordinary trip. It's staying a couple of nights here. It's a -- Felicia has business trip. It's visiting grandma. There's lots of different reasons why people will be taking a trip.

And the Tripadvisor Plus offering is really -- it can be effective for those small trips, if you want to upgrade, but then there's that kind of $99 cost. We're clearly targeting, at least initially, on the bigger trips, the longer stays. And that's why we shared this 160 million number to help folks give -- give you all the confidence that we have that says we have a lot of travelers on the site already claiming trips of this scale. And so obviously we would look for it to be incremental revenue to us and recurring revenue being fabulous part of the overall offering. Hope that helps?

Kevin Kopelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Thank you, Steve.

Operator

Your next question comes from Lee Horowitz with Evercore ISI.

Lee Horowitz -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for the question. Two if I could. Maybe sticking with Plus, appreciating that this is not necessarily a product that can only win if your key is lose by extracting the hotel discount via the hoteliers' distribution costs, this would seem to put you in more direct competition with the OTA suppliers. How are you thinking about this potential management of this tension point with important advertisers on your platform?

And then maybe one on experiences, and building on Eric's question a little bit. Thinking through experiences and the recovery, was the experiences industry likely acutely impacted by COVID? Do you expect that you'll need to spend more aggressively on sales and marketing during the recovery to bring on more experiences supply to offset, what I would imagine, would be a lot of experiences, suppliers who have gone out of business during the crisis? And in your experience, what is the lead time between investing in that sales and marketing channel, onboarding an experiences supplier and getting them up to a meaningful bookings on the platform? Thanks for the time.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. I'll take the Plus question, and thanks, Lee. Again, two good questions there. It's fair at the highest level to think, hey, well, if somebody is booking on Tripadvisor, that ends up kind of being a supplier direct booking, then that's a booking that the OTA wouldn't get. Technically true, but the volume of these bookings compared to the volume that our big client OTAs would see, it's a little hard to believe that it's even noticeable. Unlike Instant Book, which did have OTA participation, Tripadvisor Plus is not for the vast majority of our audience, whereas the Instant Book plan, it was for the vast majority of the audience. Instant Book we were looking at one night hotel stays, convenient booking on the phone.

So in a sense that was a potentially more competitive move, again, part wise it took a little while for the OTAs to join on, but as we evaluate client reaction from OTAs with this, they just put it in a different ballpark. This is a very gated product and discounts behind pay gates are extremely well established in the travel industry. And what could be a very big opportunity for Tripadvisor still isn't necessarily more than a rounding error for the big online travel agency. So we don't see that being an issue at all, frankly.

To experiences question, Ernst, do you want to add a comment on the supply side?

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. We don't see this as an investment, big investment push into supply different than we would normally have as the market recovers. We have a lot of supply, and overlapping supply in many markets. Multiple providers have a certain service in many markets. And even if some of them will go out of business, we don't think that will be particularly harmful to our overall offering to the consumer.

Moreover, there are a number of historically high revenue venues, like Steve was mentioning, the Vatican before or the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or the Louvre, a special Louvre tour in Paris that are not likely to be not returning -- they are likely to return when the travel happens again. So we are not that concerned about that overall. We're thinking more about how do we catch the wave from a marketing perspective -- from a marketing to consumers' perspective when the market comes back more than what we need to do for our supply base.

Lee Horowitz -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Helpful. Thank you, both.

Operator

And our last question comes from James Lee with Mizuho.

James Lee -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking my questions. Two here. Steve, given you're focused on subscription, maybe can you talk about any changes to your view on the hotel meta search product over the longer term? Should we think about the overall strategy from a consumer point of view as more of the segmentation strategy? For example, for high a ASP traveler it goes to subscription and maybe for mass market we want to still focus on meta search?

And also secondly on Trip Plus again -- sorry about additional questions here. Doing your testing here, just curious what your learning is on that specifically? Do you think the demand that you're seeing for people signing up, is that incremental or do you think there's some sort of substitution effect coming from other travel subscriptions? Thanks.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Thanks so much for the question, James. You can take a look at kind of what we're doing right now on with Plus with respect to meta. In that, we're really trying to market Plus where we think it's the -- we're making it the easiest possible decision for the traveler. So for instance, even where we might have a discount on a property, if that discount is only, call it, $25 and the subscription is $99, we're choosing not to push the consumer toward Tripadvisor Plus at that point because it's a little -- it may be what the consumer wants, but we don't want to push too hard where the value proposition isn't as compelling. Where the consumer is going to save $150, sure, it makes a lot more sense for that consumer to buy Tripadvisor Plus than clicking off on some for meta auction.

So in our merchandising on the site, yes, we are segmenting our audience in terms of how hard we are pushing Plus or how much we're choosing to market Plus to those different segments. That's likely to change over time over years as Plus becomes more well known, as people come to Tripadvisor. Hey, Tripadvisor Plus, how can I see more availability. As we otherwise segment travelers into very frequent travelers, well, maybe that traveler perfectly happy with the $40 savings because they're going to take five trips over the year and they know that and we know that. And so we have a marketing message that says, think of all your trips you're taking. It clearly pays for itself. To the degree that we also learn and can use the data we have in-house for folks who are less price sensitive and more interested in the upgraded experience, we have a different opportunity to push the perks as opposed to the discount to that audience.

We think our meta search is going to be around for a long, long, long, long time, and Plus compliments that. And so when we think of perhaps a typical Plus user found a great deal for this wonderful vacation, they're excited about the upgrade, the food plate, they take that trip. And now the next time they think about traveling, well, I'm going to start on Tripadvisor because I'm looking for that similar thing. Maybe not with the same amount of discount, but maybe the particular hotel they are interested in or whatever reason, location or reputation or referral doesn't have a Plus offering at that moment in time.

Well, great. They came to Tripadvisor and their next step is to go click on a meta auction link, which also helps us monetize the consumer and get that traveler to the hotel that they want to book. And that hotel happens to be on Expedia or booking.com or supplier direct. So we don't view it as particularly cannibalistic. We view Plus as a wonderful engagement vehicle when we get to a meaningful enough number of subscribers.

And then final point, when I look at the rest of what the Tripadvisor core team is working on, it is about building more engagement on our platform, getting more visitors to become members, members to become engaged members, and eventually, some of those engaged members will certainly become paid members, Plus members. But all along that funnel, we're building more reasons to come back to Tripadvisor. And one of the key ways we monetize that traffic is through that traditional hotel auction. The hotel auction is working beautifully. Our clients continue to pay what we think of as fair prices for the traffic that we're sending them. There was kind of -- there's nothing wrong with the auction, except it was pressured at the top of the funnel. How much traffic starts looking for their hotel on Tripadvisor into degrees that our visitor to member, member to engaged member programs are effective, we're able to get more traffic back to Tripadvisor, which we know how to serve quite well.

Second question on the testing learnings, there -- to the best of our knowledge, there aren't other travel subscription products we could be kind of pulling from. So we feel our current testing and the product rollout is pulling people that hadn't really thought of doing a travel subscription product, relatively new concept, and saying, hey, this is worth signing up for because I'm getting the benefits, I'm getting perks, I'm getting all this for a whole year.

It may be first of -- is first of a kind subscription product because of all the different categories we cover. But to the consumer, I don't think they're looking for a travel subscription product. I think they're looking to have a better trip. And by signing up for our subscription product, that's the way that they're going to achieve that objective. And they might take that savings from the hotel and apply it to spend an extra day on vacation. That's great with us. They enjoyed the benefits of the subscription immediately.

James Lee -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, thank you.

Operator

There are no other questions at this time. I will now turn the call back over to Steve Kaufer.

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Well, thank you, all. Thank you all very much for joining our call. Time and time again, travelers rebounded, travelers have come back to Tripadvisor. We'll continue executing our strategy and ensure that Tripadvisor plays its rightful role as an influential advisor to travelers and to businesses throughout this upcoming recovery. I want to again thank our employees, our Tripadvisor customers worldwide and our shareholders for their support and partnership in 2020 and for the years ahead. So thanks everyone, and please stay safe.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 65 minutes

Call participants:

Will Lyons -- Vice President-Investor Relations

Stephen Kaufer -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Ernst Teunissen -- Chief Financial Officer

Lloyd Walmsley -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Richard Clarke -- Bernstein -- Analyst

Naved Khan -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Tom White -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Mario Lu -- Barclays -- Analyst

Jed Kelly -- Oppenheimer -- Analyst

Eric Sheridan -- UBS -- Analyst

Kevin Kopelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Lee Horowitz -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

James Lee -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

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