Technology

Tripadvisor sacks 200 staff amid leadership shake-up

TripAdvisor plans to reorganise its leadership team and make Viator a separate tours and activities brand.

In an email obtained by Skift, TripAdvisor CEO and co-founder Steve Kaufer told employees that Gary Fritz, who leads Tripadvisor’s Asia-Pacific business and operates as the company’s chief growth officer, will leave Tripadvisor in the second quarter of 2020.

The change forms part of a reorganisation at TripAdvisor as the company seeks to “increase focus and alignment”. Among them is the appointment of current president of core experiences, Lindsay Nelson, as chief experience & brand officer.

Nelson will take over lead responsibility in Asia-Pacific. Jane Lim, who heads operations in the region, will now report to her. Nelson’s new role will also see her head brand marketing, loyalty, and new ventures.

She will be charged with growing advertising and media sales beyond travel in areas that include automotive and financial services, among others.

Kanika Soni has been appointed chief commercial officer for Tripadvisor, and will assume responsibility for B2C product, SEO and performance marketing for Tripadvisor rentals, Tripadvisor Experiences, and TA Restaurants.

Soni will continue to oversee Hotels B2B portfolio and auction, as well as the Hotels and OTA sales organisations.

Viator and TripAdvisor Experiences

TripAdvisor is also set to emphasise Viator as a separate tours and activities brand, with product “distinct” from TripAdvisor Experiences’.

As part of the change, Dermot Halpin, who leads TripAdvisor’s Attractions, will transition out of Tripadvisor, and will serve as an advisor through the end of the first quarter.

Kaufer will head Tripadvisor Experiences for the next 90 days on an interim basis, he told employees.

While vice president of business development and strategy for Tripadvisor Rentals and Attractions, Ben Drew, will become president of Viator and a member of Tripadvisor’s executive leadership team.

The changes in leadership detailed by Kaufer form part of a company strategy to move away from its current corporate structure of giving each of its business units – whether Hotels/Accommodations or Core Experience, among others – a president.

They also form part of a bid to stay relevant, as the company moves to “return to long term, sustained growth”.

Kaufer also advised that TripAdvisor had made the “difficult decision” to layoff a number of its staff. According to Skift, 200 of TripAdvisor’s international staff have been laid off, as the company looks to reduce its “overall cost structure and ready the company for sustainable future growth”, Kaufer said.

“Impacted employees have been offered comprehensive severance packages, including transition pay and outplacement support,” he said.

We are also expediting the interview process for employees who might be a fit for other open internal roles inside the company.

“These decisions are difficult. But I also believe it’s imperative we evolve the organization in order to protect our chances for future success,” Kaufer said.

Speaking to the announced changes by Kaufer, a TripAdvisor spokesperson provided Travel Weekly the following statement:

“During our Q3 2019 earnings commentary in November, we communicated that we are evaluating our cost structure. We are prudently reducing and re-allocating expenses in certain parts of our business to preserve strong profitability, while also enabling us to continue to invest in strategic growth areas.”

This will see the company right-size its experiences and dining segment, reduce other targeted costs, and optimise brand advertising investments across more impactful mediums.

TripAdvisor intends to reinvest some, but not all, of its realised savings into its newer growth areas: media advertising revenue, TripAdvisor restaurant services, hotel B2B services, and membership loyalty efforts.

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