As with TripAdvisor, people can write reviews of "family-friendly hotels" without any proof that they have stayed at the property.
Family Vacation Critic represents a crafty move by TripAdvisor because some of the content of Family Vacation Critic amounts to a repackaging of TripAdvisor content -- and some of the repackaging is a carbon copy.
For example, if you look up Bishop's Lodge Resort & Spa in Santa Fe on TripAdvisor, you'll see that it gets a 3.5 TripAdvisor Traveler Rating.
If you scroll down and examine the traveler reviews by trip type, you'll see that 22 are family oriented reviews. And lo and behold, the review at the top of the heap is entitled: Beutiful (sic) lodge with a great view and very relaxing enjoyable time with family.
You know where I'm going with this, right?
You'll find a snippet of the same review on Family Vacation Critic if you scroll down the page a bit.
It's just a snippet of the review -- that's important.
Because when you click on that review to read more of it on Family Vacation Critic, it links you back to TripAdvisor.com.
So what TripAdvisor has done with Family Vacation Critic is launch a site that will bring it extra eyes/traffic, bring it new advertising/media revenue from the new site, and drive more visitors to TripAdvisor.com itself to bolster its traffic and advertising dollars there.
So TripAdvisor basically is leveraging its existing relationships with hotels, adding some family oriented content to Family Vacation Critic to take advantage of a hot travel sector, and segmenting existing reviews and content from TripAdvisor.com to increase its already substantial footprint.
Sure, there are seemingly unique features on Family Vacation Critic, and the site is only in beta and will evolve.
For example, a Deals tab on Family Vacation Critic offers direct booking on the hotels' websites.
TripAdvisor doesn't have a Deals tab per se. Perhaps the Family Vacation Critic Deals tab will lead to a similar positioning on TripAdvisor.com.
After all, deal publishing and "deals" are hot, with existing entrants like Travelzoo and new entrants like getaroom.com and Voyij.com.
Family Vacation Critic undoubtedly will be an effective way for TripAdvisor to slice and dice its content, and to continue its impressive growth.