Skift Take

It will be a new era at Expedia Group with Ariane Gorin taking charge.

In a stunner that few observers saw coming, Expedia Group announced CEO Peter Kern will step down from his post and Ariane Gorin will succeed him, effective May 13.

Gorin is currently president of Expedia for Business, and will take a seat on an expanded board of directors, effective February 12. To make room for Gorin, Expedia Group expanded the board to 13 members.

When she takes the CEO post on May 13, she will also become a member of the board’s executive committee.

The company announced the changes Thursday after market hours.

Few Women in Online Travel Agency Leadership Posts

Gorin would become the first woman to lead Expedia Group although Barry Diller remains the Group’s “senior executive” and chairman.

In other high-ranking women at major online travel agencies, Group’s Jane Sun became CEO in 2016, and Gillian Tans was CEO of Booking Holdings’ unit from 2016-2019.

Surprise CEO Announcement

Few, if any observers, saw this transition coming at this time, although Gorin, given her high-profile role at the company, heading its B2B arms, was an obvious candidate.

Unlike after then-Expedia Group CEO Dara Khosrowshahi bolted to take over the leadership of Uber in 2017, spurring a publicized external and internal search for a successor at Expedia, this time around the Expedia board conducted an under-the-radar internal search.

Peter Kern Will Stay as Vice Chairman

In its announcement, Expedia Group said Kern, who took the CEO post in 2020, will continue to serve as vice chairman and a member of the board. He will assist Gorin during the transition, the company said.

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to lead Expedia Group as we build on the foundations established by Peter, our leadership team, and our global workforce,” Gorin said in a statement. “Leading our multibillion-dollar B2B business has been an incredible experience and I look forward to even greater growth ahead for the entire Company. It’s an exciting time in the Company’s history, and I’m energized by the opportunities ahead for our employees, travelers, and partners.”

Expedia Group Chairman Barry Diller, the company’s senior executive, said in a statement that he sought an internal candidate to succeed Kern, and determined Gorin was the top choice after the board conducted “a comprehensive search.”

Kern guided Expedia Group through the pandemic, securing financing to ensure there was enough cash to get through it. He launched the company’s new loyalty program, One Key, which unified an array of previous programs.

Kern also helped reshape the company during his tenure, deleting several brands, and reorganizing disparate brand teams that sometime worked at cross-purposes. He also guided a technology transition for the company, bringing several major brands, including and Vrbo, onto a common technology platform.

Gorin in recent years has been president of Expedia for Business, the company’s B2B arm which has been expanding rapidly and is responsible for a big chunk of the company’s revenue and profits.

Ariane Gorin at Skift Europe Forum

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Tags: earnings, expedia, expedia group, online travel newsletter, peter kern, vrbo

Photo credit: Ariane Gorin of Expedia for Travel in conversation with Skift’s Dennis Schaal at Skift Forum Europe on March 24, 2022 in London. Source: Skift Russell Harper Photography / Skift

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