Skift Take

Ben Drew took over Tripadvisor's Viator brand right as the pandemic began and helped guide the online travel seller. Drew's departure comes at a pivotal time for the brand as it faces heavier competition.

Ben Drew, president of Tripadvisor’s travel experiences brand Viator for the past four years, announced on Tuesday that he would leave the company on April 12 for “a new opportunity in a new industry.”

As of publication time, the company hadn’t responded to a request for comment. However, Tripadvisor’s CEO praised Drew via LinkedIn, citing “an impressive track record of success, a well-honed strategy for building on Viator’s leadership position in travel’s fastest-growing category, and a strong plan in place to continue our momentum.”

Drew touted some accomplishments he and his team achieved at Viator, which many experts believe is the largest online seller of tours, activities, attractions, and events.

“In 2023 we hit $737 million in revenue, growing at 49% year-over-year, and became profitable,” Drew said in a post on LinkedIn. “Moreover, we helped millions of people discover experiences they’ll remember forever, and thousands of businesses make a living.”

Viator generated roughly $4 billion in gross bookings last year, but Drew estimated that only captured about 1% of the experiences sold online and off. The company’s major competitors include GetYourGuide, Expedia, Airbnb, and Klook.

Executive editor Dennis Schaal notes: Drew’s departure occurs as Tripadvisor entertains a sale offer, and there is speculation that a buyer might opt to sell or spin-off Viator. Many consider it the most valuable part of Tripadvisor.

Viator has a deep bench of talent,” said Douglas Quinby, Co-Founder and CEO of Arival, a research and events company. “The one question about the future really has to do with Tripadvisor, and to what extent that future includes – or should include – Viator.”

Drew’s legacy

One of Drew’s signature legacies was revamping the tool and process by which suppliers set their commission and help adjust how their listings appear in Viator’s search results.

Drew joined Tripadvisor as head of business development for vacation rentals in 2012, where he led significant inventory growth. He oversaw Bokun, the Iceland-based software company serving the tours, attractions, and experiences industry that Tripadvisor acquired in 2018. Drew has previously worked at Expedia and Deloitte.

Drew spoke at Skift’s 2024 Megatrends presentation in New York City in January.

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Tags: experiences, management, online travel, tours and activities, tripadvisor, viator

Photo credit: Ben Drew, president of Viator, speaking in January in New York City at Skift's 2024 Megatrends event. Source: Skift.

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