Hire me as the next CEO of Viator (Tripadvisor)

May 8th, 2024

by Alex Bainbridge

Risk is a judgement. When I set off to sail over the Atlantic (twice), or drive London to Kathmandu (4 months), run a marathon (twice), cycle 1000 miles John O’Groats to Lands end, race a 21 foot boat from the UK to the Fastnet rock and back (and win), or just be a startup founder, everything comes with risk. This post is risky. Very risky.

Tripadvisor is wallowing. 27% stock price loss today. Hire me to help lead it and turn it around. This article is my pitch.

With Tripadvisor’s stock price down 27% today, an investor told me controlling shareholder Liberty Tripadvisor is worth ‘close to nothing.’ LTRIP’s Greg Maffei (Tripadvisor chairman) said this a.m. talks ongoing with TRIP’s special committee re ‘strategic alternatives’

Am I the right material to lead Tripadvisor?

Not really, but continue reading.

Back in 2019 Philip Wolf invited me on stage keynoting the opening ceremony of ITB Berlin, just after Steven Kaufer keynoted. I went to the Phocuswright conference 2023 in Fort Lauderdale and attended the Presidents dinner where Steven Kaufer was inaugurated into the travel industry hall of fame. I am at least in the right room.

I don’t have an MBA, I am not a leader of thousands of people, but I am a tech innovation leader. I write code daily, I have written over 70 articles for Tnooz (Now Phocuswire). I communicate, I innovate and I deliver.

In the same way that the Rolling Stones still “just play music”, Tripadvisor needs an innovator leader who “just still innovates”. The commercial people are needed, but in a supporting role.

The small boat metaphor

Back in the day, when I was training as a superyacht skipper (4 months), I was taught that there are two kinds of leaders.

Those who captain a progressively larger boat who go from yacht to larger boat to even larger. They know how to lead as this is all they have done, but they are not very familiar with the more junior roles on the larger boats.

Then you get the folk who have worked up the levels on the larger vessels. They know all the roles and have all the necessary people management skills, but when given the ultimate job, they can’t deliver the leadership role as they have never done that. These people make a great 2nd in command.

We are entering into most significant innovation phase the tourism sector has seen. AI doesn’t just deliver new distribution and retail opportunities, it creates new tourism & hospitality product. Tripadvisor needs an innovation leader.

New product

Think about Uber ridehail. You call the vehicle (and driver) and the experience is branded as Uber. This is an Uber product. You can’t get an Uber product on Lyft.

Likewise Airbnb accommodation. You book the place and the experience is branded as Airbnb. This is an Airbnb product. You can’t get an Airbnb product on Tripadvisor.

When you book an experience on Viator, or a restaurant by Le Fork, its not a Viator or Le Fork experience. Now I am a fan of local tour operators & tour guides, and we need to keep them in the loop, empowering local entrepreneurs to work on our behalf, but we also need to scale a Tripadvisor/Viator product, in the same way as there is an Uber or Airbnb product.

What are the ingredients we have to work with?


For too long Tripadvisor has been sat on their haunches on reviews. I get it is important for them so it is hard to change. But ultimately current reviews are now obsolete. They are text, they are after the fact and they are not properly authenticated as coming from a valid customer. Decentralised customer profiles with authenticated stays fixes some of this, my Reviewfie innovation from 2017 helps in other ways.

Innovation on the core Tripadvisor product is not only possible, but overdue.


Tripadivsor has a great database of points of interest. Is this actually useful in an AI era? To a point. But I dont need the overhead of 15,000 restaurants in London (most of them kebab shops) when what tourists need are the 500 nearby where they are going.

A lot of fat to be cut here, or at least moved to a secondary management system so the top 500 in every city can be focussed on and augmented with the details that AI trip planning needs today.


Many things are going right with Viator but they are peaking on the wrong mountain. AI enables product operating, not just product retail. The growth story can’t continue. This subsector is one of my specialities, back in the day I founded and scaled TourCMS, at one point I remember we were about 20% of all Viator bookings. I sold TourCMS to Palisis a few years ago.

Le Fork

I haven’t been paying much attention to Le Fork, but recently I took a look at their restaurant special offers concept. What a mess. Love to get my hands on this.

The three races

The travel industry is impacted by three races:

  • The first to autonomous vehicles
  • The first to AGI
  • The first to AI tour guides

Autonomous vehicles

My business operates (for testing) 25 or so robotaxi tourism experiences (in particular in San Francisco). Tripadvisor 0. However Tripadvisor does have an interesting partnership with Cerence that should be expanded under my leadership.

I see this week that Waymo (Alphabet/Google) has started to do marketing deals with restaurants. This is what Tripadvisor should be leading.


This race is critical to win for attraction retail and tour operating reasons.


Big Tech and AI Startup Scalers are in a space race –whoever can get to AGI first stands to win. A “rat race” reports CNBC, with numerous anecdotes and (anon) quotes, by @haydenfield. The tech industry is in a race to achieve AGI (equal to human intelligence across many domains) –whoever gets their first stands to win. Win what? Well, everything. There will be no letting up the gas until there’s a clear winner –and from my vantage point, Microsoft (with OpenAI, Inflection team, massive corporate clients) is currently in the lead.

Where is Tripadvisor on this race? They might not be the king, but should at least be the kingmaker.

AI tour guides

This has the opportunity to enable operating a Tripadvisor product, in the same way at there is an Airbnb product or an Uber product. A race that Tripadvisor/Viator can’t afford to lose.

Half hearted AI trip planning isn’t it.

Final thought

I get the Tripadvisor CEO role isn’t open, but the CEO of Viator role is. Hire me for that.



  • I at least know that it is now called Tripadvisor, I see so many Tripadvisor employees posting on LinkedIn who are still calling themselves TripAdvisor.
  • I am not actually for hire. Too busy running an AI tourism startup…..


Image: ChatGPT / OpenAI 

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