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Booking.com CEO Gillian Tans, who was promoted from president and chief operating officer to president and CEO on April 27 last year after Darren Huston left the company, was the highest paid online travel executive among publicly traded companies in 2016.
Tans, as the CEO of the largest and most important brand within the Priceline Group, earned total compensation of $17.1 million last year, edging out her boss, then-Priceline Group Interim CEO Jeffery Boyd at $16.49 million. [See chart below detailing the total compensation of leading online travel CEOs at publicly traded companies. Total compensation typically includes salary, stock awards, incentive pay, and other miscellaneous compensation.]
There was a wide gap between Tans and Boyd’s total compensation, respectively, and that of the rest of the pack, with Barry Diller, the senior executive at Expedia Inc., coming in third with total compensation at the company of $8.54 million.
The Priceline Group, which includes brands such as Booking.com, Kayak, Priceline.com, Agoda, Rentalcars.com and OpenTable, is coy about disclosing Booking.com-specific financials other than to say the hotel-booking site is the Group’s largest brand.
Unlike other executives’ compensation in the Priceline Group, Tans’ cash bonus was tied specifically to the earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization performance of Booking.com — a standard measure known as EBITDA.
“With respect to Ms. Tans, her bonus was funded from the bonus pool applicable to our Booking.com business,” the Priceline Group reported in regulatory filings. “Based on the 2016 performance of our Booking.com business, that pool was also funded in amounts well above target.”
Boyd, who stepped in as interim CEO of the Group when Huston departed in April 2016 and stayed on in that role until the hiring of current CEO Glenn Fogel as president and CEO in January 2017, received an $8 million stock award in 2016 as a bonus.
“Mr. Boyd’s 2016 compensation, including his performance-based bonus, reflects his highly effective management during this transition, as well as our performance and the other factors discussed below,” the Priceline Group’s filing said.
Kaufer and Seidenberg at TripAdvisor
Of the six highest-paid online travel CEOs in 2016 at companies that disclose executive pay, Barrie Seidenberg, TripAdvisor’s CEO of Attractions, notched fourth place with total compensation of $3.09 million. Seidenberg was the CEO of tours and activities company Viator when TripAdvisor acquired it in 2014 and stayed on at the company through the end of 2016.
So of the six highest-paid online travel chief executives in 2016, two were women: Tans of Booking.com and Seidenberg of TripAdvisor.
Seidenberg received a bonus of $195,000 in 2016, which was 98 percent of her target bonus.
TripAdvisor executives’ bonuses in 2016 were based on either surpassing 2015’s revenue — and the company fell just short of that — or seeing the stock price, which closed at $62.77 per share on February 3, 2016, jump at least 5 percent higher during any 30-day trading period from then until the end of the year.
Despite the battering that TripAdvisor’s stock price has taken in recent months, the company did indeed meet that stock-price threshold in 2016. “So annual bonuses were awarded based on a review of company performance, individual performance, and peer data,” said TripAdvisor spokesman Brian Hoyt. “They were awarded at less than 100 percent of target and, generally, at lower percentages than last year .”
In its proxy statement, TripAdvisor said it paid CEO Stephen Kaufer a $525,000 bonus, or 75 percent of the target.
For his total compensation, Kaufer received $1.23 million, sixth among the six officials in our chart.
Don’t Feel Bad for Khosrowshahi
While Expedia senior executive Barry Diller, who has voting control of the company, received total compensation of $8.54 million in 2016, the third-highest-paid online travel executive, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, came in fifth, with total pay of $2.44 million.
That’s OK because Khosrowshahi’s total pay package in 2015, the year Expedia acquired Travelocity, Orbitz Worldwide, HomeAway, and others was $94.6 million.
“2016 bonuses for each of Messrs. Diller, Khosrowshahi, [CFO Mark] Okerstrom and [General Counsel Robert] Dzielak were significantly lower than the prior year. While the Company met its overall profit targets for 2016, it fell short of internal room nights and market share expectations, resulting in generally lower annual bonus payments for senior management,” according to Expedia’s report.
Expedia stumbled during 2016 as the resources devoted to the integration of Orbitz Worldwide diverted attention from other brands and conversion rates and room night growth suffered.
“Diller’s bonus in 2016 fell 50 percent to $1 million, and Khosrowshahi’s bonus declined from $2.75 million in 2015 to $1.375 million in 2016,” Expedia said.
As a foreign issuer of stock, China’s Ctrip didn’t have to detail executive pay. Ctrip said it paid its executives, including chairman and former CEO James Jianzhang Liang and CEO Jane Jie Sun, $3.2 million in cash in aggregate in 2016, and directors received $1.9 million in total. Liang gave up his CEO post in November 2016, and Ctrip promoted Sun to the job.
In the chart below, we only considered the publicly available compensation figures for chief executives of online travel companies, or sub-brands such as Booking.com and Viator. There were some Priceline Group officials, such as general counsel Peter Millones ($6.53 million) and now-CEO Fogel ($6.3 million), the former executive vice president of corporate development and global strategy, whose pay surpassed some of the CEOs in our chart.
Highest Paid Online Travel Chief Executives in 2016
|Company and Executive||2014 Total Compensation||2015 Total Compensation||2016 Total Compensation|
|Gillian Tans, CEO Booking.com||N/A||$6.26 million*||$17.1 million|
|Jeffery Boyd, Interim CEO Priceline Group||N/A||N/A||$16.49 million|
|Barry Diller, Chairman Expedia Inc.||$7.59 million||$9.92 million||$8.54 million|
|Barrie Seidenberg, CEO Attractions (Viator)||$2.25 million**||$2.03 million||$3.09 million|
|Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO Expedia||$9.64 million||$94.6 million||$2.44 million|
|Stephen Kaufer, CEO TripAdvisor||$1.2 million||$1.47 million||$1.23 million|
* In 2015, Gillian Tans was President and COO of Booking.com
** Barry Seidenberg’s 2014 compensation starts on August 8, 2014, when TripAdvisor acquired Viator