Skift Take

Don't pine for Stephen Kaufer about his CEO pay in 2014. He'll be OK, especially if TripAdvisor hands out those $100 holiday gift cards as employee bonuses again this year. Meanwhile, if everything gets on track with Hotel Shopper, he'll have a big payday again in 2017.

TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer, the highest-paid online travel executive in 2013 with compensation of $39 million, took a massive pay cut in 2014 with his total pay coming to just $1.2 million.

That amounted to about a 96 percent pay cut.

In 2014, according to a financial filing April 28, Kaufer received a $500,000 salary; a $700,00 bonus, nearly $8,000 in “other compensation,” including a $100 gift card that all employees received as a holiday bonus, for a total pay package of $1.2 million and change.

Kaufer didn’t receive any option award in 2014 but that’s because his option award in 2013 was a tidy $38 million.

When Kaufer received the $38 million equity grant in 2013 it was with the understanding that he wouldn’t be eligible for another one until August 2017.

If I were Kaufer, I would look at it this way: The pay averaged about $20 million per year if you add the 2013 and 2014 packages, and that compensation would be greater in theory than just about all of his peers’ pay. Then again, there won’t be any equity grants for him in 2015 and 2016, either.

OK, Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston’s total compensation in 2014 was nearly $22 million but don’t forget he pulled off the $2.6 billion acquisition of OpenTable, which redefines the “travel” industry after a certain fashion.

By way of comparison, Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s pay package in 2014 amounted to $9.6 million, a compensation bump of 29 percent compared with 2013.

While TripAdvisor wasn’t transparent about why Kaufer got the $38 million equity grant in 2013 — perhaps it was a thank you note for the late 2011 spinoff from Expedia Inc. and TripAdvisor’s overall performance — Expedia Inc. detailed why its CEO received a $3.5 million bonus in 2014.

Expedia stated that Khosrowshahi receive the cash bonus because of the “strong performance” of the Expedia brand, of which he serves as brand president; his role in steering the acquisition of Wotif and and guiding the negotiations to acquire Travelocity, and “a significant ramp up in the rate of new property acquisitions,” bringing Expedia Inc.’s hotel inventory to 550,000 properties worldwide.

In another compensation item of note, Viator CEO Barrie Seidenberg became an executive officer of TripAdvisor, receiving 2014 compensation of $2.25 million.

TripAdvisor acquired Viator in 2014, and Seidenberg’s designation as an executive officer of TripAdvisor highlights the perceived importance of tours and activities to TripAdvisor’s future.

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Tags: ceo pay, expedia, priceline, tripadvisor, viator

Photo credit: TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer. Tripadvisor