Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Online Travel

Trivago Gets New CEO and Leadership

1 year ago

Travel metasearch company Trivago said on Tuesday that Johannes Thomas had become CEO and Managing Director, succeeding Axel Hefer, as the company struggles to return to its pre-IPO glory days.

Thomas began at Trivago as an intern and rose to become the company’s chief revenue officer, with a specialty in business operations and strategy.

Other executive changes include included Jasmine Ezz becoming chief marketing officer and Andrej Lehnert becoming chief product officer.

At $1.20 a share on Tuesday, Trivago is in danger of seeing its share price go below $1 and becoming de-listed if it doesn’t turn around its financial trajectory.

For context, read this month's Skift article: Trivago’s Returns Take a Hit as Company Invests in Direct Connection Tool

Travel Technology

Sabre to Make Former CWT Exec Kurt Ekert CEO

1 year ago

Travel technology giant Sabre said on Wednesday that Sean Menke, who has been CEO of the company since 2016, will become executive chair of its board on April 27, at which time its current president, Kurt Ekert, will become its CEO, too.

“It has been an honor and privilege to help lead Sabre over the last eight years,” Menke said. “I am proud of what our teams have accomplished and how we’ve served our customers during unprecedented times.”

Ekert joined the Southlake, Texas-based company in January 2022 as president and has since developed new growth strategies while reorganizing its largest business division. He had previously been president and CEO of the business travel management company CWT (Carlson Worldwide Travel) for five years. Ekert has also served at Continental Airlines, Cendant, and Sabre’s smaller rival Travelport.

Photo credit: Kurt Ekert, shown speaking when he was CEO and president of CWT. Source: CWT.

Last week, Skift highlighted Sabre’s strategy for 2023 and beyond.


Accor Names New CEO for Raffles and Orient Express Hotel Brands

1 year ago

Accor, the Paris-based hotel giant, said on Tuesday that Omer Acar will head its brands Raffles & Orient Express as of March 1. Acar will join Accor’s other brand CEOs in its luxury and lifestyle group (Fairmont, Sofitel & MGallery, and Ennismore) — all of whom report directly to group CEO Sébastien Bazin.

Omer will be based in New York and will represent Accor in North America. He has most recently been managing director for Europe and the Americas for Katara Hospitality, where he supervised 18 hotels including the Plaza in New York, Peninsula in Paris, Carlton in Cannes, Excelsior in Rome, Grosvenor House, and Savoy in London.

Accor has a separate organizational unit for its economy, midscale, and premium hotels.


Tony Fernandes Steps Down as Acting Group CEO of AirAsia X

2 years ago

Tony Fernandes has stepped down as the acting group CEO of Capital A’s long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X citing “other commitments,” the airline announced in a note to investors on Monday.

“I’m now going to focus on delivering significant value to shareholders of Capital A, including the AirAsia Aviation Group, aviation services, logistics, travel, fintech and the e-commerce lifestyle platform,” Fernandes said in a press statement.

Having served as the non-independent non-executive director of AirAsia X, Fernandes stepped in to the role of acting group CEO in July this year.

Mahmood Fawzy has now been appointed as the independent non-executive director of Thai AirAsia X.

AirAsia X had entered a court-overseen debt restructuring process during the pandemic. The airline completed the debt restructuring in March.

Fernandes, in a press statement, mentioned that his job had been to restart AirAsia X and bring it back to profitability and growth after the hibernation. “I am happy that this has been accomplished with a very edifying plan for 20 aircraft for the AirAsia XGroup — 13 aircraft for AirAsia X and seven for Thai AirAsia X.”

He went on to note that following the restructuring the airline has improved the cost structure, and created a cargo business, which has contributed about 20 percent to the airline’s revenue during the pandemic and will continue to play a vital role in its recovery.

The airline in a statement in August had noted that it would be ramping up flight frequencies and would return to daily services to most destinations before 2023, with optimised aircraft utilisation of 15 hours by December.


Loews Hotels to Promote Alex Tisch to CEO, Succeeding Cousin Jon Tisch

2 years ago

Loews Corporation said that on January 1 CEO Alex Tisch would become president and CEO of its chain of 25 luxury properties, Loews Hotelssucceeding his cousin once removed Jon Tisch, who will become executive chairman and remain co-chairman of the board.

Alex, a fourth-generation member of the family, joined Loews Hotels in 2017 and was named president in September 2020. He has sped up Loews Hotels’ growth by adding properties, including an 800-room property in Kansas City, Missouri, and developing key partnerships in Arlington, Texas. Alex also helped to boost the metabolism of its commercial group, the company said.

He’ll succeed Jon Tisch, who has been an officer of Loews since 1986.

“In his 43 years at Loews Hotels, Jon has engineered the company’s expansion and emergence as a leading hotel business,” said James Tisch, Loews Corporation president and CEO, during an earnings call with analysts on Monday. “In particular, Jon was instrumental in building Loews Hotels’ long-standing partnership in Orlando with Universal Studios while also having the foresight to develop the iconic Loews Miami Beach Hotel.’

The November opening of a 242-room Coral Gables hotel will mean Loews Hotels will have about 10,000 rooms in the South Florida market and about 16,500 guest rooms across the country.

Loews Hotels & Co’s net income for the three months ended September 30, rose $12 million year-over-year to $25 million.

“The hotel properties at the Universal Orlando Resort contributed meaningfully to the period-over-period improvement,” the company said.

Surfside Inn and Suites at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. Source: Loews Hotels.


Four Seasons Names New CEO Alejandro Reynal in Push to Be More Data Savvy

2 years ago

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts said on Monday it had appointed Alejandro Reynal CEO and president as the luxury hotel management company seeks to improve its use of data to enhance performance.

Reynal most recently was president and CEO of Apple Leisure Group, a resort company Hyatt acquired in the past year. But intriguingly he has expertise in applying data-based approaches to businesses, having previously held top positions at Atento, a global customer relationship management firm, and Telefonica, a telecom.

“Throughout his career, Alejandro has led and inspired global teams to embrace innovation, leverage the power of data and insights, and deliver top financial performance and value to both investors and customers,” said Michael Larson, chief investment officer of Cascade Investment, in a statement. Larson is the money manager who calls the shots in the fund, which holds the personal investment assets of billionaire Bill Gates.

In the past year, Cascade has increased its stake in Four Seasons, and now holds a 71 percent stake in the company. It has said it wants the lodging company to boost its uses of the latest technologies to enhance performance.

“I have a deep admiration for Four Seasons and the more than 50,000 people around the world who make this company so special,” said new CEO Reynal on LinkedIn. “I look forward to leading this exceptional organization into the future as we seize the opportunities ahead and continue to deliver best-in-class experiences for our guests, residents, partners and all who connect with our brand.”


Southwest CEO Robert Jordan to Become the Airline’s President, Too

2 years ago

In a securities filing on Thursday, Southwest Airlines said Bob Jordan would succeed to the position of President of the company on January 1, 2023, while also retaining the role of CEO he has had since earlier this year.

Jordan, a 34-year-old veteran of the company, will step into a role being vacated by Michael G. Van de Ven, president and chief operating officer, who submitted his resignation.

Andrew M. Watterson will rise to the position of chief operating officer as of October 1. 


Jumeirah CEO Steps Down, Thomas Meier Named Interim CEO

2 years ago

Jumeirah Group CEO José Silva said in a company email he would step down. Thomas Meier, named chief operating officer last year, will be interim CEO, as Hotelier Middle East first reported on Thursday.

For five years, Silva led the Dubai-based hotel group, championing a scale up worldwide. Silva also led a refresh of the company’s offerings, including the planned launch of the ultra-luxury Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab, Dubai, that’s expected to open in late 2023.

Meier previously worked at Minor Group and Fairmont Raffles Hotels.

See Hotelier Middle East for more

Tags: ceos, jumeirah


Premier Inn Owner Whitbread Names Dominic Paul New CEO

2 years ago

Premier Inn’s owner Whitbread said on Wednesday that it has named Dominic Paul as its new CEO, to succeed Alison Brittain, who has “decided to retire from full-time executive life” at the end of the year.

Brittain had steered UK-based budget brand Premier Inn for a half-dozen years, including through the shoals of the pandemic, while also helping parent company Whitbread sell its popular Costa Coffee chain to Coca-Cola. Brittain has also been the rare woman worldwide in a CEO role of a hospitality company.

“It has been an enormous privilege to lead Whitbread during a period of significant expansion for our well-loved brands, in both the UK and in Germany,” said Alison Brittain in a statement. “The business has recovered from the pandemic well ahead of expectations and is continuing to trade strongly and gain market share.”

Mr Paul most recently served as CEO of Domino’s Pizza Group and was previously a managing director of Costa Coffee for three years, and was also a top exec at Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.


Global Airlines Group Appoints First-Ever Female Chair

2 years ago

The International Air Transport Association‘s board of governors has appointed RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo to serve as its chair, making her the first woman ever to lead the global airline agency.

Makolo, who has led RwandAir since 2018, will serve a one-year term as IATA’s chair from June 2023, succeeding Mehmet Tevfik Nane, the managing director of discount Turkish carrier Pegasus. Nane took over the role of IATA chair from JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes on June 20 during the organization’s annual general meeting.

Makolo is one of the few women holding a senior role at a major airline. IATA estimates that close to 9 percent of airline CEOs are women.

Yvonne Manzi Makolo