Transcript: Tripadvisor's Stephen Kaufer on "Face the Nation," July 5, 2020

Tripadvisor CEO says most travelers focused on safety
Tripadvisor CEO says most travelers focused o... 04:59

The following is a transcript of an interview with Tripadvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer that aired Sunday, July 5, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Summer vacation looks a lot different this season. Short distance road trips, visits to national parks or for some, no trips at all. For a look at how Americans are thinking about travel, we know you're at least thinking about it, Tripadvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer joins us from his home in Newton, Massachusetts, this morning. Good morning to you. 

TRIPADVISOR CEO STEPHEN KAUFER: Good morning to you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So travel was supposed to be inching back up this summer. Now we have these spikes in the south and in the west. What is that doing to the consumers that you are watching?

KAUFER: Yeah. So if you look at the traffic on our site, we have hundreds of millions of visitors on Tripadvisor each and every month. You look at the top searches and I think five or six of the top 10 a couple of weeks ago were all wonderful southern beaches. Texas, Arizona, Florida, great places to go but that switched. Everyone's moving essentially up north away from all these hot spots which is totally understandable, given the safety concerns that nine out of ten travelers tell us are most important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We hear the president continue to float this idea of giving a potential tax credit to Americans if they take a vacation. We don't know that Congress will take that up. But I'm wondering in the travel industry, if you think or if you're betting on needing that? 

KAUFER: I think everyone in the travel industry is really, really concerned about this slip backwards that we've now seen the US and what's best for the travel industry, at least my opinion, is really getting the pandemic under control. And that isn't about a tax credit for someone to take a vacation. It's really about leadership from our federal government, from the state governments, from local governments, all telling people to do the basic things that everybody needs to do to keep us all safe. That's what to get travel going again in this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And safety is the number one priority that you are seeing in the consumers who are looking to travel and to book something right now? I mean, how do you offer that to someone on the other end of a computer screen?

KAUFER: Yes, so we asked. We asked hundreds or thousands of people and they said, nine out of 10 said, safety is the most important thing that that they are looking for when planning this next trip. So we went out as Tripadvisor, like the premier travel guidance company, and said, how can we help our travelers really understand the details about what makes a hotel or restaurant or things to do safe for them? So we went out to all of the businesses, eight plus million businesses on our site and said, come- come tell us, come to all the audience that is on our site everything that you as an individual business are doing to help keep your guests safe. And as of this morning, close to 50,000 different businesses have uploaded some information already. And this was just a program that was launched last week so we expect many, many more.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We know American- different American airlines are going to the government to get emergency help. We saw new terms negotiated just this week. And I wonder if you are seeing Americans have the confidence to go and buy a ticket on a plane a few months out. Are they confident that airline isn't going to go bankrupt?

KAUFER: I don't think they're worried about airlines going bankrupt, but they remain concerned about their health. And to the degree that the whole country can come together, as much of Europe has done, and really take a concerted effort to treat everyone safe- doing everything they can to make sure everyone feels safe when they travel--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what does that- what does that mean? Does that mean masks are sort of the magic solution for a business to provide confidence? Does it mean face shields? Does it mean something specific, like how do you actually trust the safety measure?

KAUFER: I'm personally less worried about getting on an airplane if I have a mask and I know every other passenger is wearing their masks. That would make me feel personally safe to go to a place if that place is not now a hotspot of the coronavirus. So again, with government recommendations, with our president, with all of the national leaders saying this is what every American of every political persuasion should be doing, I think that would go a tremendous way to really helping to start- start the downward trend in cases. If you look at what Massachusetts is doing. We have a Republican governor, Charlie Baker, led by science, who's looking at opening up the state after we clearly took care of the--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

KAUFER: --coronavirus, down in the hundreds now and he's opening up very slowly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Well, we will see. Thank you very much, Stephen Kaufer from Tripadvisor. We'll be right back.