With TripAdvisor having well-documented struggles in its multiyear transition to become a force as a hotel search engine, senior vice president of global product Adam Medros, a key figure in all of the product changes, is leaving the company, Skift has learned exclusively.
When asked, TripAdvisor confirmed the development. It is believed that Medros will leave the company around October 20.
“Adam Medros, senior vice president, global product has made the decision to leave TripAdvisor to explore other career opportunities,” TripAdvisor said. “Through the years, Adam was instrumental in the growth and evolution of TripAdvisor, but we continue to have great leadership in place and a team of highly motivated and innovative individuals working to make the world’s most beloved travel brand even better.”
Medros’ departure comes nine days after a statement by Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital Markets at the Skift Global Forum in New York City, arguing that TripAdvisor has been bereft of product innovation over the last few years, and that its profits have consequently suffered.
On stage at the Skift Global Forum the next day, TripAdvisor co-founder and CEO Stephen Kaufer responded to a question about Mahaney’s comments, saying “Travelers are happy with what we’re doing,” he said. “They’re not asking for whiz-bang feature, something here, something there. They’re looking for help planning the trip. And to that, we’ve done a great job helping to build those trip memories.”
Kaufer said he felt good about the company’s expansion into restaurants, as well as tours and activities, for their growth potential.
He also said that consumers aren’t looking for fancy bells and whistles in TripAdvisor’s apps.
“When we look at innovation, we look at the redesign we’ve done [and launched a few months ago], we have focused on making sure we’re serving the absolute best price possible for hotels, and a new mobile app,” Kaufer said at the Forum last month.
Asked to clarify his comments Friday, Mahaney said “there hasn’t been enough good product innovation at TripAdvisor.”
“It’s still a very large platform with lots of monetization potential,” Mahaney said.
Medros has worked at TripAdvisor since 2004 in senior product roles and took on his current position heading the product team in 2014 at a key juncture.
TripAdvisor during this period has struggled rolling out metasearch, introducing metasearch with an emphasis on hotel bookings instead of hotel referrals, and recently reverting back to an emphasis on clicks instead of bookings. TripAdvisor’s stock price is currently around $43.15 per share, after hitting a high of $65.89 in the last 52 weeks.
TripAdvisor’s struggles clearly have to do with strategy, execution and competitive pressures, and can’t be neatly laid at Medros’ doorstep.
In an interview with Skift last year, Medros was candid about the transition to emphasizing Instant Booking, which has subsequently been abandoned as the number one option on TripAdvisor’s hotel pages, saying the Instant Booking push was difficult.
Asked to comment about leaving TripAdvisor, Medros said Friday: “I’ve been here 13 years and proud of what we accomplished at TripAdvisor. It is an exciting time for me personally, and the right time for me to explore new things. Steve and I have been discussing this transition for some time and both felt now was a good opportunity for me to make this move.
“We have a great leadership layer in place within our product organization and I feel good about TripAdvisor’s roadmap going forward. I will always be a fan of TripAdvisor, and remain only a phone call away for my colleagues.”
In addition to Medros, there have been several other executive departures at TripAdvisor in late 2016 and 2017.
For example, David Krauter, then-head of TripAdvisor’s SmarterTravel unit, left TripAdvisor this summer to pursue an opportunity at a Boston-area startup.
Ken Frohling, vice president of global partnerships at TripAdvisor attractions, and a former Viator executive, left TripAdvisor in July, and is now doing consulting.
And early this year, and more than two years after TripAdvisor acquired tours and activities leader Viator, and several weeks after Viator’s then-CEO Barrie Seidenberg announced her resignation, at least three other Viator executives left TripAdvisor as the company brought in members of its vacation rentals team in an attempt to scale the business faster.