Digital

Top Travel Industry CEOs on Social Media

@rafat

Jul 25, 2013 5:00 am

Skift Take

For being the most outward facing industry of the planet, the CEOs of travel companies aren’t very social, aside for the few exceptions at the top of this list.

— Rafat Ali

Free Report: The Changing Business of Extended-Stay Hotels


For the world’s largest consumer-facing sector, you would think that the travel industry executives would be very social and outward looking. This is, after all, an industry built on hospitality. Think again.

Turns out among the legions of big travel companies across all its subsectors, the CEO and leaders of these companies very rarely go off track from traditional corporate channels of communication. A select few of them are on social media, and even fewer have a meaningful presence — communicating with and responding to customers and peers in travel —  in the various social channels.

» One Related Link You Really Should Read After This: SkiftSocial, the Social Media Data Dashboard for the Travel Industry

Part of it has to do with the top leadership among top companies in travel: it still is an old white-boys club, for most part, at least in U.S. and Europe, and very few of them are tech savvy themselves. The more practical reason is that most of the large travel companies are public companies, with lots of financial regulations inhibiting the free form of communication that social media allows.

That said, the exceptions are below, Skift’s Top Travel Industry CEOs on Social Media.

Some observations on the list:

  • Only the top 10 or so on this list would qualify as actually being active in social media. Rest have nominal presence.
  • Richard Branson is everywhere. He has advice on everything. You can’t escape him, anywhere. If he wasn’t so creative, insane fun and game for anything, he would as well be Donald Trump.
  • Donald Trump. Ugh.
  • Tony Fernandes is the epitome of a big time travel CEO who actually is very active on Twitter and causes controversy, interacts with customers and generally is out there as Air Asia continues to grow into the pan-Asian company that it aspires to be. His AirAsia X counterpart Azran Osman Rani is in his mold.
  • Tech CEOs are native to social, primarily because of their backgrounds. That explains Yelp, Foursquare, Airbnb and Uber CEOs. Most of them actually talk very little about travel, more about entrepreneurship and general startup culture.
  • Travis Kalanick, CEO of car service startup Uber, is the only executive who actually truly does customer service through social media, in this case through Twitter.
  • Surprisingly, or maybe not, CEOs of online booking giants are either non-existent, or just have nominal presence in social media.
  • Some of the CEOs have never tweeted, but since they have followers, they’re in here, though only by a technicality.
  • The small LinkedIn crowd is mostly advice givers writing on LinkedIn Today, one way street there.
  • Very few women in this group, including Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels, and Harriet Green, CEO of Thomas Cook, symptomatic of the larger issue of very few top women execs in the travel industry.

Who did we miss to put on this list? Let us know below.

Name Twitter Twitter Followers # of Tweets LinkedIn Influencer Followers Facebook Likes Klout
Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group @richardbranson 3329664 3757 2207726 442643 91
Donald Trump, CEO, Trump Organization @realDonaldTrump 2287284 11229 n/a n/a 85
Tony Fernandes, CEO, AirAsia @tonyfernandes 340809 8608 n/a 100360 78
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp @jeremys 155892 946 n/a n/a 61
Micky Arison, Chairman, Carnival Corp @MickyArison 117333 5423 n/a 742 82
Dennis Crowley, CEO, Foursquare @dens 67907 34773 n/a n/a 85
Travis Kalanick, CEO, Uber @travisk 22762 4477 n/a n/a 59
Brian Chesky, CEO, AirBnb @bchesky 15569 1524 n/a n/a 62
Azran Osman Rani, CEO, AirAsiaX @azranosmanrani 14858 3896 n/a n/a 69
Adam Stewart, CEO, Sandals Resorts @AdamStewart 8687 1661 n/a n/a 59
Niki Leondakis, CEO, Commune Hotels @Niki_Leondakis 5574 4163 n/a n/a 53
Dave Barger, CEO, JetBlue @DavidJBarger 5123 1846 n/a n/a 59
Rob Katz, CEO, Vail Resorts @RickysRidge 4098 3927 n/a n/a 46
Sam Shank, CEO, HotelTonight @samshank 3309 1108 8392 n/a 67
Sandie Dawe, CEO, VisitBritain @SandieDawe 2270 2452 n/a n/a 49
Barney Harford, CEO, Orbitz @barneyh 1803 148 n/a n/a 43
Harriet Green, CEO, Thomas Cook @HarrietGreen1 1800 187 n/a n/a 49
Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman, Diamond Resorts International @StephenCloobeck 1618 116 n/a n/a 42
Scott Griffith, CEO, Zipcar @SWGriffith 1446 1041 n/a n/a 45
Stephen Kaufer, CEO, Tripadvisor @kaufer 1388 99 n/a n/a 44
Steve Singh, CEO, Concur @SteveSSingh 1255 1219 n/a n/a 47
Darren Huston, CEO, Booking.com @Darren_Huston 1087 164 n/a n/a 48
Brett Tollman, CEO, The Travel Corporation @Bretttollman 1043 197 n/a n/a 38
Larry Pimentel, CEO, Azmara Voyages @larrypimentel 1024 634 n/a n/a 55
Joel Petersen, Chairman, JetBlue @JoelCPeterson 968 27 22325 n/a 49
Deep Kalra, CEO, MakeMyTrip @deepkalra 717 0 n/a n/a n/a
Adam Goldstein, CEO, Hipmunk @adamjgoldstein 589 22 n/a n/a 35
Raul Leal, CEO, Virgin Hotels @VirginHotelier 507 303 n/a n/a 41
Steve Hafner, CEO, Kayak @shafner 492 0 n/a n/a 0
Bill Walshe, CEO, Viceroy Group @wwalshe 431 682 n/a n/a 40
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO, Expedia @dkhos 383 10 n/a n/a 29
Gary Mendell, Chairman, HEI Hotels @gary_mendell 356 103 n/a n/a 26
Brian Sharples, CEO, HomeAway @briansharples 304 19 n/a n/a 36
David Scowsill, CEO, WTTC @DScowsill 91 59 n/a n/a 0
Michael Gross, CEO, Morgans Hotel Group @Mikeoffduty 62 5 n/a n/a 14
Raymond Bickson, CEO, Taj Hotels Group @rbickson 44 0 n/a n/a 0
Tom Klein, President, Sabre Holdings @tomkleintk 35 6 n/a n/a 0
Jennifer Fox, President, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts @JenniferGFox 3 68 n/a n/a 0
Arne Sorenson, CEO, Marriott International n/a n/a n/a 7888 n/a n/a

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