By Chloe Aiello

Social media has helped fuel massive opportunity in the travel industry, but with opportunity, comes cutthroat competition, Trivago CEO Rolf Schrömgens said Wednesday.

"People are really traveling in general more. They want to experience stuff, they don't want to buy stuff anymore," Schrömgens told Cheddar. "They want to go where their friends have been, everybody shares stuff on social media and everybody wants to have this unifying experience of being at the same places."

And since only about 40 percent of bookings are made online, Schrömgens said, that's a huge untapped market for companies, like Trivago ($TRVG).

"I am very positive regarding the overall industry dynamics," he added.

Despite the opportunity, the travel technology sector is virtually a graveyard of failed startups that fell short in their fight against industry incumbents. Schrömgens knows ー Trivago was once one of those challengers. He said the travel bookings site keeps nimble in the competitive field by functioning like a startup.

"The industry is very very competitive and the more competitive the industry is, the harder it gets for new players to go in. Still I think it's important to have innovation, and we are trying to innovate constantly, so we have the culture of a startup," Schrömgens said.

But the nearly 15-year-old company is hardly a startup anymore. It debuted on the Nasdaq in 2016, and reported its second quarter of double-digit net income growth on Wednesday. Trivago stock was last down 4.5 percent in intraday trading, following the report.

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