Skift Take

Expedia's leadership is unique among major online travel companies in the West.

Expedia Group’s Explore 24 partner meeting in Las Vegas this week has had plenty of news announcements about AI and advertising initiatives. But the women in leadership stood out.

Ariane Gorin became Expedia Group’s CEO on Monday, Julie Whalen has been the chief financial officer since 2022, and Rathi Murthy has been the chief technology officer since 2021.

At a press gathering Tuesday morning, Lauri Metrose, senior vice president of global communications, noted that the company has a “trifecta” of women in those key leadership positions.

Murthy told the press that it was important that she found her “voice” during her career path, and at Expedia she tries to empower women coming up through the ranks.

Expedia’s leadership is unique among major online travel companies in the West — including Airbnb, Booking Holdings, Tripadvisor and Uber. Group in China likewise has a woman CEO, Jane Jie Sun, and Chief Financial Officer Cindy Xiaofan Wang.

Three women leaders sit on stage at an Expedia conference in Las Vegas.

(From left) Lauri Metrose, Expedia Group’s svp, global communications; CEO Ariane Gorin and CTO Rathi Murthy. They addressed the press May 14, 2024 at Expedia Explore 24 in Las Vegas. Source: Skift

[Update: On Friday, Expedia Group announced that Murthy and an e-commerce exec who reported to her left the company because of a “violation of company policy.”]

Other female leaders from Expedia also led sessions during the event, including: Jennifer Andre, vice president of business development, media solutions; Michele Rousseau, senior vice president of global brands and creative; Reena Patil, senior vice president of partner product and marketplace; and Karen Bolda, senior vice president of B2B product and technology.

Whether it’s women in leadership or men, investors will be looking to see whether Expedia Group can get back on track and accelerate the growth of its consumer brands, with Vrbo and in particular not bouncing back fast enough after a technology migration.

Barry Diller, Expedia Group’s senior executive and chairman, said the company had conducted an outside search to find a CEO to replace Peter Kern, but chose Gorin, an internal candidate.

Diller said 90% of the mistakes in CEO successions occur when companies opt for an outside candidate whom they might not know very well. When you go for an outside candidate, “the casualty rate is high,” he said.

Of Gorin, Diller said he’s never seen a CEO step in so confidently as a leader.

Note: We updated this story to reflect Murthy’s exit from Expedia Group.

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Tags: ariane gorin, barry diller, corporate governance, DEI, expedia, expedia group, online travel newsletter

Photo credit: Michele Rousseau, Expedia Group senior vice president of global brands and creative, at Explore 24 in Las Vegas May 14, 2024. Expedia Group

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