Skift Take

Kayak is looking to get leaner and more efficient. The restructuring, though, doesn't exactly mesh with the upbeat picture about the metasearch company that parent Booking Holdings described during its fourth-quarter earnings call this week.

Kayak has laid off more than 50 employees as it eliminated brand marketing operations in London and Berlin and consolidated them into a Europe, Middle East and Africa team based in Copenhagen, Skift has learned.

The company, part of Booking Holdings, also consolidated its tech team’s quality assurance efforts with a goal of “less manual testing and closer alignment with product and development,” according to a note that co-founder and CEO Steve Hafner sent to the company Thursday.

The 50 jobs represents 6 percent of Kayak’s total workforce.

Hafner also told employees Kayak is restructuring its mobile efforts through one global team “across our travel brands.”

None of the restructuring impacts OpenTable, which Kayak assumed direction for last year.

The moves are detailed in two communications from Hafner and chief marketing officer Torre Pein Jensen to staff. [See the memos below.]

The goal of the restructuring, according to Hafner’s note to employees, is “to improve coordination and prepare for growth.”

Jensen told staff that Kayak brands are “scaling down” in Europe online brand marketing spend, in-house creative content production, and “digital activation activities.”

Hafner told Skift Friday: “Staying lean and nimble has always been important to us. This restructuring helps on both dimensions. But obviously we’re sad to see 50 colleagues depart.”

Booking Holdings spokesperson Leslie Cafferty sought to address the brand marketing issue.

“Overall, we are absolutely increasing marketing investment across the board,” Cafferty said. “These moves are about operating and marketing more efficiently within Kayak.”

The move follows Kayak’s acquisition of Nordics-strong metasearch company Momondo in 2017, and Australia-based HotelsCombined in December 2018 for around $140 million. Kayak is said to have axed about 30 HotelsCombined employees that month.

In parent Booking Holdings’ fourth quarter and full-year earnings call on Wednesday, CEO Glenn Fogel gave no hint about brand marketing or inefficiency issues at Kayak.

“Both acquisitions bring greater geographic diversity and product strength to the Kakak platform as it continues to build a global multiproduct, multi-brand travel search platform,” Fogel said, referring to its purchases of Momondo and HotelsCombined. The parent company’s advertising and other revenue, primarily driven by intracompany revenue at Kayak and OpenTable, climbed 14 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the year-ago period, CFO David Goulden said.

In his letter to staff, Hafner said the restructuring, which had been in the works for two months, grew out of “communications challenges, inefficient processes, and other pain points.”

The restructuring, which takes in brand marketing, regional strategy and mobile teams, comes as parent company Booking Holdings is leaning into brand marketing to drive more direct traffic.

Here are the communications to staff from CEO Hafner and CMO Jensen:


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: booking holdings, brand marketing, kayak, layoffs, marketing, metasearch

Photo credit: Kayak CEO Steve Hafner speaking at Skift Forum London on April 4, 2017. The company laid off more than 50 employees at the end of February 2019. Skift

Up Next

Loading next stories