Keeping the “lights on” for Tripadvisor’s vacation rental brand

Keeping the “lights on” for Tripadvisor’s vacation rental brands



Tripadvisor is predominantly recognized as a platform for travel reviews and booking travel experiences such as tours and tickets to enhance on-trip experience. However, it's worth noting that Tripadvisor also encompasses several vacation rental-related brands. As of early 2022, the Tripadvisor portfolio included Tripadvisor Vacation Rentals (TAVR), Holiday Lettings (HL), Niumba, Flipkey, HouseTrip, and VacationHomeRentals, though none of these held a significant market share at the time. My team was assigned to handle this portfolio, and in 2022-2023 the focus was to keep it “alive” by doing smaller and medium-sized experiments, as well as a staggered audit. We successfully achieved this by winning most of the 90+ experiments conducted within 18 months, as well as executing two milestone UX research projects that gave to future roadmaps. All this with limited design and research resources (1-2 designer and 1 UXR).

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My Role

UX Lead

  • Roadmap planning
  • Defining approach to design
  • Interface design
  • Research planning and execution


The goal for this team is basically two-fold:

  • To maintain and “keep the lights on” for these platforms. While we are not leading products and revenue driver for Tripadvisor, we want to keep these as part of travel planning for users.
  • To find opportunities to improve the platforms in the coming years.



Resourcing is tight, with limited number of engineers, product and design handling all VR-related brands prompted us to tightly focus on prioritized tasks


With multiple brands in our stewardship, it is still impossible to cater for them all. There should be a prioritization in the brands we want to focus on.

Design stewardship

What would constitute a good design stewardship in the framework of “keeping the lights on”?


Design leadership

Bridging design team, design system & processes to the product and engineering team.

Product design and research

I had to work with a Senior Designer and Intern, and had to discuss, assign and allocate work, as well as review in-progress design.

We also wanted to introduce research into the mix, which the previous team didn’t do as much, in order to build insights especially to the major flows. Previous research was limited to certain UI context, e.g. filters.


From the
From the Case Study: Our collective approach
From the
From the Case Study: Using The Three Horizon Framework to stagger product roadmaps

We made sure we know where the state of the work is, by investigating and collecting information on previous works, namely:

  • A rebrand work for Holiday Lettings
  • Ongoing AB test experiments for both TAVR and Holiday Lettings
  • User experience audits for both TAVR and Holiday Lettings

Then, we planned for three-pronged approach:

  • Continuing ongoing tests
  • Help plan and prioritize ongoing tests based on past audits
  • Influence future planning (quarterly and yearly) by generating new insights through workshops and user research

As a UX lead on this project, I influence workflow by setting up some processes:

  • Setting up communication cadence with Product Managers and Engineering (biweekly 1-hour long UX reviews, adhoc reviews)
  • Updating and managing up my manager and dotted-line manager (VP Global Markets) by maintaining a work document
  • Improve visibility on the VR-related projects by updating the bigger product and design organization at Tripadvisor on experiment wins

Upon planning, we will only prioritize two brands: Tripadvisor Vacation Rentals (TAVR) and Holiday Lettings (HL), both accounting for more than 50% traffic and conversion for all Tripadvisor’s VR-related brands. We will sunset the other brands eventually.

What we did

Keeping the lights on

Based on the goals of “keeping the lights on”, we continue to tackle improvement items and test them as necessary. We help influence the teams on which tickets to tackle first, and how we can do them best.

This needs to be considered carefully as:

  • Design System: We have a Design System in place and we need to balance business needs, user needs and platform experience consistency. TAVR has a separate Design System than Holiday Lettings, making it a bit more complex.
  • Speed vs Depth: There are tickets that demand speed, and these are most of them. As designers, our job was to know when to pause and advocate for deeper analysis or investigation
From the
From the Case Study: Some of the UI improvements we made, across different brands (Tripadvisor and Holiday Lettings), covering different areas like calendar, datepicker, booking module, map and email)

Finding opportunities

From the
From the Case Study: Co-creation workshop with key stakeholders

Based on the goals of finding improvement opportunities:

  • We did a full audit of both platforms to make sure we’re aligned with the PMs and Engineering. This complements the previous audits that have been done.
  • We also conducted a stakeholders review workshop with an aim to uncover issues and discover opportunities.

We are happy to realize that by the end of 2022, we already racked up so many good results!


Better conversion

In 2022 alone, we managed to execute 90+ tickets of user-centered UX/UI improvements resulting in $6.5M of increased revenue. Highlights include:

  • Improved image carousel
  • Search results redesign
  • Pet options
  • One-click guest selection
  • Instant booking stastus
  • Cross-selling cars
  • Reviews filter
  • Dated-search persuasion
  • Co-listing Vrbo properties

Informing better decisions

Research efforts this year have led to shareable insights that are informing the Hotels and Plus team, including:

  • Stakeholder workshop to influence decision-making on product roadmap
  • User research on shopping funnel, discovering what works for travelers when they shop
  • User research on booking flow, discovering what works for travelers when they book

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  • Shahina Khanna, Senior Designer
  • Afiqa Rahman, Design Intern
  • Daniel Wee, UX Researcher
  • Jia En Koh, Senior UX Researcher
  • Brandon Schmittling, Associate Director of Product Design

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