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TripAdvisor has had its operational struggles this year, but CEO Stephen Kaufer insists everything is on track for future growth.
In a wide-ranging conversation at Skift Global Forum in New York City in September, Kaufer commented on a variety of challenges and opportunities facing the company.
He said TripAdvisor remains on track for propelling the long-term growth of revenue-per-shopper, a key metric, on the site. He added that the company continues to expand its unique number of hotel shoppers — a trend it credits to having built a more compelling user experience.
Yet earlier during Skift Global Forum, Mark Mahaney, a research analyst and managing director at RBC Capital Markets, made a sharp critique of TripAdvisor’s recent wobbles. He said the company was not being innovative enough.
On stage, Kaufer countered this criticism by saying that data showed travelers were happy with the innovations that TripAdvisor has debuted to date.
In August, TripAdvisor sweetened the incentives for management with juicier exit packages if another entity took control of the company via a merger or sale. Skift has previously reported on the possibility that talks of a sale of the company may have been quietly under way.
Kaufer did not discuss such scenarios in depth on stage.
Speaking Out About Trump’s Policies
The top boss at TripAdvisor, the world’s most-visited travel website, took aim at the Trump administration, and offered some of the toughest criticism of U.S. policy toward refugees, the children of undocumented workers, and generic travel bans made by any online travel company chief executive.
“I just find it so frustrating that this country is not more welcoming to people who deserve to be here,” said Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor’s CEO. “And in our industry, it’s a worry about tourists who had wanted to come here but are clearly getting a message, ‘Hey, no, you may be hassled at the border.'”
Kaufer also address the global refugee crisis.
“When it comes to the Syrian refugee crisis, … in the travel category, we are in a position to help,” Kaufer said. “We want to help travelers make donations but also raise their voices and say, ‘This can’t stand, This can’t be another crisis that nobody pays attention to.'”
He noted that TripAdvisor had used its platform to prompt travelers to consider making charitable donations. By 2018, the company will have donated almost $6 million from its foundation to address the refugee crisis and will have enabled about $1.3 million in user donations through its consumer campaigns.
Watch the entire interview above. Or consider reading more coverage of the Skift Global Forum.
At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this, as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.
Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2018 events.