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Expedia CEO Peter Kern Stepping Down After ‘Optimizing IT Footprint’

Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern said Thursday (Feb. 8) that he will step down in May after four years in that role, having led the company as it rationalized its operations and optimized its IT footprint.

Kern and Expedia announced this move on the same day the global travel platform announced its fourth quarter and full year 2023 results.

“When this started, the idea was for me to come in for a period of time and sort of right the ship, put us where we want it to be, and then build the team and make sure we have the people to take it forward, for the next generation, as it were,” Kern said Thursday during the company’s quarterly earnings call.

Kern will be succeeded by Ariane Gorin, president of Expedia for Business at Expedia Group, effective May 13, the company said in a Thursday press release. He will continue to serve as the company’s vice chairman and member of the board of directors.

Since Kern assumed the role of CEO in 2020, Expedia has rationalized its investments in more than 20 brands to three or fewer in every region, replaced its dependency on 76 different agencies around the globe with a single in-house marketing team, and shifted the company’s focus to acquiring and retaining the customers with the highest lifetime value (LTV) and return on investment (ROI), Kern said during the call.

The firm has also optimized its IT footprint by replacing 17 customer relationship management (CRM) systems with one that links all brands, reduced seven different loyalty stacks to one, and consolidated 13 machine learning (ML) platforms and four experimentation platforms into one, Kern added.

“And, most importantly, all our brands are now on a single front-end stack with a unified test-to-learn platform that gives us the ability to rapidly launch tests and features across brands, platforms and geos,” Kern said during the earnings call.

This enables Expedia to drive faster feature deployment and better product performance, with projects that used to take months or years now taking only weeks or days, Kern said.

“It cannot be stated strongly enough: We are just at a completely different place technologically and the effects we have seen so far are only just scratching the surface of what is possible,” Kern said.

Looking ahead, Kern said Expedia will use its ML and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to target customers with the highest LTV, to increase its share of wallet with each customer by selling complementary items, to accelerate its global market expansion, and to boost productivity by doing more with less.

“The work we have done in improving our customer service operations is a great case study,” Kern said during the call. “By building better technology and self-service tools, we have both improved our NPS and created massive efficiencies, all while maintaining our best-in-class service. And generative AI will only accelerate this trend.”