Skift Take

Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern is waging a simplicity campaign. Turning the Expedia and loyalty programs into a single plan might make sense. But one thing definitely on the agenda is trimming marketing through Google, a company Kern characterized as a "shark."

Series: Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, Executive Editor and online travel rockstar Dennis Schaal will bring readers exclusive reporting and insight into the business of online travel and digital booking, and how this sector has an impact across the travel industry.

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Online Travel This Week Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern, on the job for five months but a board member there for a decade-and-a half, thinks Google is a "shark," and that Expedia in the past "paid lip service" to reducing its dependency on the travel business formerly known as a search engine. Asked at Skift Global Forum last week if he had the silver bullet to reducing Expedia's reliance on Google, Kern said: "Google is a shark. Sharks have to hunt. That’s what they do. We are not going to stop them. Maybe the governments will get involved and curtail some of their activities. But, we by ourselves can’t do it. So we have to be good about all the things we can control.” Skift Research estimated that Expedia likely paid Google some $2.7 billion for performance marketing in the 12 months up to September 30, 2019. Kern said there is no magical solution to the high cost of marketing through Google, which he likened to skimming the ocean for a wide net of customers, and not making a lot of money on the catch. He said the solution to getting a traveler to start their search in the Expedia app rather than with Google, and securing that direct visit, is creating a robust and more "stic