TripAdvisor CEO to Brief Staff on Path to ‘Long-Term Growth’

(Bloomberg) -- TripAdvisor Inc. Chief Executive Officer Stephen Kaufer will brief employees about plans to return the online travel company “to sustained, long-term growth” after the market closes Thursday, according to a memo to staff.

The memo, sent by the company’s head of human resources, Beth Grous, also confirmed that there will be job cuts, as reported by Bloomberg on Wednesday. “These actions are never easy, especially when they impact people we know and care about,” Grous said in the memo obtained by Bloomberg. The company is eliminating about 200 employees, or about 5% of total staff, according to people familiar with the move.

TripAdvisor’s struggles come as Alphabet Inc.’s Google has launched new, competing travel search tools, while adding its own reviews of hotels, restaurants and other destinations. Google has also crammed the top of its mobile search results with more ads. This has forced many companies, including TripAdvisor, to buy more ads from the search giant to keep online traffic flowing.

In early November, TripAdvisor shares plunged more than 20% in one day after the company reported dismal third-quarter results. It said the main challenge was “Google pushing its own hotel products in search results and siphoning off quality traffic that would otherwise find TripAdvisor via free links and generate high margin revenue in our hotel click-based auction.” The shares are down about 46% over the past 12 months.

Kaufer acknowledged on the earnings call that “Google has got more aggressive.” “We’re not predicting that it’s going to turn around.”

While Kaufer won’t discuss the plans until after market close, and the company declined to comment, people familiar with the plans said the company is preparing for a minor re-branding that could debut as early as next week. The makeover will include a new logo and a stylistic change to the corporate name, shifting from TripAdvisor to “Tripadvisor” with a lowercase “a.” TripAdvisor is also preparing revamped versions of its iOS and Android apps for later this year, the people said.

Needham, Massachusetts-based TripAdvisor also plans to increase advertisements and sponsored content on its platform to boost revenues.

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