The Life of a Product Manager and Owner at trivago

As a Product Manager and Owner, many users and teams rely on you to develop the vision, create roadmaps, facilitate between different stakeholders, and much more. At trivago, this includes empowering teams to create and maintain the highest quality website and products, deliver the best internal tools and orchestrate successful marketing strategies. No pressure. We asked a few of our product managers and product owners working in different teams and pillars across the company about their experience of working in these roles!

What makes it rewarding to work as a Product Manager or Product Owner at trivago?

“You work with people from many different backgrounds (eg. in our team we have 1 Iranian, 1 Indian, 1 Australian, 1 Egyptian, 1 Hungarian, 2 Germans and 1 East-German ;)) which makes the work very interesting. My observation in trivago is that the people here in general have a huge drive to learn new things and to deliver outstanding results with the newest technology. Everyone wants to go the extra mile. This also means making mistakes and failures is something that is seen as something positive. The motto is something along the lines of: “You do not invent without breaking stuff”. Of course you need to learn out of your mistakes, but in such a setup the learning curve you can have as a Product Manager is amazing.” – Matthias, Product Lead (CMS & DEA Tools)

“I think for me 3 things always make me come to work smiling on Mondays: the people, the culture and the impact we can have. There are so many people from different countries with different mindsets and perspectives and so much to learn from everyone. Add to that an environment that values data-informed decisions, experimenting and trying things out even if some will fail. And then last but certainly not least, the humbling thought that what we build impacts millions of people every day. How could I not smile.” – Alexandru, Product Manager (Alternative Monetization)

“As a Product Owner at trivago, I am happy while discussing ideas that seem complex and too far away in the future, but afterwards having the courage to push for those ideas, iterate on them, and see their successful realization. Discovering what doesn’t work is also rewarding, because in difficult times we learn more, we push more, we strengthen our opportunities, and improve our weaknesses, which leads to climbing the peak of the mountain. It is rewarding to trust my team, however, sometimes it happens for me to collaborate on the same project with more than ten teams in parallel, and seeing all the pieces working together in sync after putting a lot of effort and time, working towards the same goal all together, well, those are moments when I also love being a product owner.” – Elena, Product Owner (Marketplace Bidding Infrastructure)

“Since I’m working on the internal marketing tool, the most rewarding part of the PO job for me is seeing happy users’ faces and getting direct positive feedback when we deliver the functionality they are excited about. Being a Product Owner is definitely not boring. There is always some kind of a new task, request, the whole new topic or, well, a bug.” – Yevheniia, Product Manager (Marketing, trivago Order Control)

How does working as a PM or PO at trivago differ from other companies?

“In my experience with previous companies, product managers, especially junior ones, are told what they are supposed to do. Their product roadmap and strategy tends to be already planned and one only needs to successfully implement it. trivago‘s main difference is that Product Managers have the freedom of, and are encouraged to define their role and set the expectations. On a micro-level, we are the CEOs of our product and we are operating in a fast-changing environment which allows us to learn and grow.” – Athanasia, Product Manager (Hotel Search)

“trivago differs from other companies by the number of different opportunities, people are encouraged to switch jobs, teams, roles, and to bring value by working where they feel they can contribute the most. As well, the impact for every single one of us is much greater, we work on our team initiatives and ideas, and we are actively involved in prioritization of the topics we believe are most beneficial for the company and our users. Above all, we do not assume, or believe, or think, we test and improve to have the best interest for everyone.” – Elena, Product Owner (Marketplace Bidding Infrastructure)

“trivago is a data-driven company, with a clear focus on solving our users’ problems, and it reflects on the way it treats its employees. trivago is interested in how well I’m solving problems and not on how I am doing it, giving the POs and their team all the necessary support and enough freedom to develop their own paths.” – Sergio, Product Manager (Marketplace Ranking)

“I haven’t worked yet as a PM in other companies, since I did the transition from being an engineer to being a PM here in trivago. From my observations and perception I believe that this is also one key, which makes working here in trivago different: Having the freedom and support to leave the comfort zone and take the risk. I am not stuck in taking care about a specific functionality nor component of our product. My team and me can decide on the problem we want to solve for our users and I think this is really different to from what I’ve seen in other companies, where I felt like the next step was too much influenced by the area taking care of and/or external input.” – Christian, Product Manager (Hotel Search Interface)

What is a key principle you stand by as a PM or PO?

Being data-driven: We should make decisions about changes in the product or new features as much as possible on data and only if there is no other way use your intuition.
User first: For everything we do, we need to ask us one simple question: What value does this create for the user?
Team-Work: That means coming to solutions in a collaborative way together with the developer team, but also the stakeholders. In my experience this is difficult, because it costs a lot of energy for the Product Manager, but it brings better results faster.” – Matthias, Product Lead (CMS & DEA Tools)

“You are constantly in the zone of uncertainty, in some kind of a black space. It is important to understand that it’s okay to make mistakes and go for risky but fast decisions rather than extensive planning. It’s okay not to know everything from the very beginning and improve the product step but step. It’s also okay to be responsible for the outcome while you are always dependent on the work of others to achieve it, the team is everything in this case.” – Yevheniia, Product Manager (Marketing, trivago Order Control)

“Product Managers are expected to understand and grasp a lot of information in regards to business, technology and user experience. We aren’t necessarily experts in all three areas, but are expected to be their epitomy. Wearing all these hats and staying on top of things can be challenging at times. However, being a Product Manager is an amazing learning experience where you can develop multiple skillsets and accelerate your professional growth. Every day in a Product Manager’s life is filled with exciting surprises. Nothing is static!” – Athanasia, Product Manager (Hotel Search)

“For me I think it’s the mental resilience and strength you need to develop in order to calmly deal with all of the uncertainty, with your own biases and others’, with all the particularities of the people you work with, with all of the skills and topics you need to catch up with but never have enough time to and the list goes on. To keep your cool and clarity and help the team focus on the right opportunities and challenges while dealing with your own weak points, it’s a less mentioned but critical challenge that a lot of PMs are dealing with.” – Alexandru, Product Manager (Alternative Monetization)

“To me, the most challenging part about being a PM is definitely the decision making, for which you will never have the 100% confidence level. With my engineering background I am used to fact-driven decisions, where I had the confidence through the fact that something was working or not working. Also other decisions were a bit easier like architectural ones, since you had proven research or other facts at hand. But deciding on product changes, where there is no ultimate proof that something will work out in the long run but only some test data, research and/or market analysis to gain evidence. This a completely different level of decision making. It is deciding for people and people are never binary like computers are.” – Christian, Product Manager (Hotel Search Interface)

Thanks for sharing your insights! We’re proud to have such dynamic, driven and impactful Product Managers and Owners empower our teams to deliver the best products and services 💪

If you’re interested in becoming a PM or PO at trivago yourself, check out our open positions below!

You might also be interested in this Q&A with one of our seasoned Product Managers, Alex Bleau, in which he shares his experience of leading product teams!

Ankia Wolf
Ankia Wolf

Ankia is a copywriter in our Employer Branding team. She's a born and bred Capetonian whose love for writing, 50% German roots and annoying amount of wanderlust ultimately led her to Düsseldorf and trivago. When she's not writing, she's planning her next trip or obsessing over good food and wine.

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