Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

FareHarbor Taps Longtime Booking.com Product Vice President as CEO

1 year ago

FareHarbor, the Booking Holdings’ tours and activities reservations tech platform, has a new CEO, Skift has learned.

Wellness travel companies are starting to offer more niche experiences like mountain hiking-meets-spa retreats. Source: Unsplash

Andrea Carini, who served as vice president of product development at fashion retailer Otrium for the past 10 months, began carrying out his CEO role at FareHarbor this week. There has been no public announcement about the hiring.

For nearly 10 years and up until April 2022, Carini was vice president of product development at Booking.com.

Carini replaced Ted Clements, who was acting CEO at FareHarbor for one year, until October 2022. Clements this month became CEO of WeTravel, an Amsterdam-based travel booking and payments platform.

FareHarbor takes offline tours and activities, and brings them online with a variety of booking services and payment tools.

Online Travel

On the Beach Founder to Step Down as CEO

1 year ago

On the Beach Group CEO Simon Cooper, who founded the UK-based beach holidays online travel agency in 2004, will resign his post within the next 12 months, and Chief Financial Officer Shaun Morton will take over the CEO duties, the company announced.

On the Beach Group founder and CEO Simon Cooper plans to step aside as CEO within the next 12 months. Source: On the Beach Group

The precise timing of the transition, according to the company, depends on recruitment of a new chief financial officer to assume Morton’s current duties. The board hired an external team to assist in that search.

On the Beach Group credits Morton with helping to guide the company through the Covid pandemic, playing a lead role in strategic investments in brand marketing and technology, and striving to win market share in luxury and long-haul trips, and making inroads in the Group’s business-to-business initiatives.

Cooper, who remains a major shareholder in the company, will take a board seat and stay actively involved in the business, On the Beach stated. Cooper increased his shareholding in August.

On the Beach Group didn’t cite a specific reason for Cooper’s relinquishing his CEO duties.

The announcement coincided with the company’s release of its fiscal 2022 preliminary results. The fiscal year ended September 30.

For the year, On the Beach Group, which is a publicly traded company in London, recorded profit before taxes of  £2.1 million ($2.6 million) in fiscal 2022 compared with a loss a year earlier of £18.4 million ($22.5 million).

“Notwithstanding the emergence of Omicron and the disrupted airline schedules this summer, revenue was up 3 percent versus fiscal year 2019,” the company’s announcement stated.

On the Beach stated it is uncertain how the “cost of living crisis” will sway consumer behavior, adding that the company is well-positioned entering fiscal year 2023.

Online Travel

Veteran Vrbo Exec Jeff Hurst Is Leaving as Expedia Poaches Another Googler

1 year ago

Longtime Vrbo executive Jeff Hurst, who was chief operating officer of Expedia brands and formerly Vrbo’s president, is leaving the company.

Jeff Hurst, a former Vrbo president, at an Expedia Group conference in Las Vegas in 2019. Source: Expedia Group.

This follows the exit in September of John Kim, who was president of Expedia Marketplace, and last month became executive vice president and chief product officer at PayPal.

Expedia Group announced earlier this week that Brad Bentley, most previously president and CEO of clean energy company Inspire, would become chief operating officer of Expedia brands, taking Hurst’s role.

Hurst had been with Expedia/Vrbo and predecessor company HomeAway since 2010.

Kim has worked at Expedia/HomeAway since 2011.

Following Expedia Group hiring former Google travel advertising director Rob Torres in April, Expedia stated this week that it hired Tript Singh Lamba, most previously head of head of product for YouTube ad monetization and personalization at Google, as senior vice president of consumer product for Expedia product & technology.

Bentley will report to Jon Gieselman, president, Expedia Brands, including Expedia, Vrbo and Hotels.com. Lamba will report to Rathi Murthy, Expedia Group’s chief technology officer and president, Expedia product & technology.

“Building long-lasting direct traveler relationships and operating more effectively with our capital allocation are core components of our B2C strategy,” Giselman said in the announcement statement. “It is critical to have a leader that understands all the complicated investment tradeoffs between customer acquisition, engagement, and retention, and can apply that experience to our planning, operating model, and daily operations. Brad’s substantial operational experience with direct-to-consumer products puts our Brands division in a position to thrive even more.”

Expedia didn’t announce a reason for Hurst’s departure, and a spokesperson characterized it as merely a leadership change after Hurst’s more than 10 years of accomplishments at Expedia and HomeAway.

Hurst didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Short-Term Rentals

Vacasa Appoints TurnKey Co-Founder as Chief Operating Officer

1 year ago

Just five weeks after Rob Greyber became CEO of Vacasa, the board has shaken up the leadership ranks anew, including naming TurnKey co-founder John Banczak chief operating officer, effective immediately.

Vacasa vacation home in Camp Connell, California
Vacasa vacation home in Camp Connell, California. Source: Vacasa

TurnKey was Vacasa’s main rival among property management companies in North America until Vacasa bought Turnkey for $619 million in April 2021.

John Banczak. Source: Vacasa

Banczak will supervise Vacasas’s field and central operations teams, the company said Friday in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Banczak had served as Vacasa’s chief strategy officer.

In other moves, Greyber, who formerly headed Egencia for Expedia Group, will add chief product officer to his current CEO duties on an interim basis. Michael Xenakis, Vacasa’s chief product officer, will leave the company at the end of the month, Vacasa stated.

Vacasa led its announcement about executive changes with the promotion of Chief Operating Officer Craig Smith to the role of chief commercial officer. Smith had become Vacasa’s chief operating officer in early 2021.

In his new role as chief commercial officer, Smith will also assume Michael Dodson’s responsibilities as chief revenue officer. Vacasa said Dodson will exit the company in early November.

Some 10 months ago, Vacasa closed its first day of trading on Nasdaq in a blank check merger on December 7, 2021 at $9.84 per share, and closed trading Friday at $3.25.

Vacasa generated $9.94 million in net income in the second quarter, which ended June 30, on revenue of $310 million, a 31 percent year over year increase.

The property management company, the largest in North America, raised its 2022 revenue and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) guidance in August, and projected adjusted earnings profitability in 2023.

Online Travel

Tripadvisor Names Former Booking Holdings Finance Official as New Chief Financial Officer

1 year ago

Tripadvisor will replace longtime chief financial officer Ernst Teunissen with Michael Noonan, a former Booking Holdings vice president of finance, effective October 31.

Tripadvisor, who several months ago saw the appointment of Matt Goldberg as CEO, replacing Steve Kaufer, said Teunissen, who served as chief financial officer for the past seven years, will leave “to pursue other interests.”

Michael Noonan, Tripadvisor’s new CFO. Source: Tripadvisor.

In addition to his chief financial officer role, Teunissen also served as chief executive of Tripadvisor brands Viator, The Fork and Cruise Critic.

Tripadvisor said Noonan, who has three decades of finance experience, most previously served as chief financial officer of the health app Noom. He was in that role since October 2020.

Tripadvisor didn’t say who, if anyone, might assume Teunissen’s role at Viator, The Fork and Cruise Critic. He will stay on through the first quarter of 2023 for transition purposes.

“I would like to thank Ernst, also on behalf of our Board of Directors, for his many valuable contributions over the past seven years, and personally for the counsel he has provided through my own onboarding,” Goldberg said in a statement. “His guidance, especially through the volatile pandemic period, has been key to our strong financial position.  Moreover, his leadership of Viator, TheFork, and Cruise Critic, has driven strong revenue growth for these strategic businesses coming out of the pandemic.”

Online Travel

Expedia Group Names Julie Whalen as Chief Financial Officer, First Woman There in This Leading Role

1 year ago

Expedia Group appointed board member Julie Whalen as the company’s new chief financial officer, replacing Eric Hart, effective September 26.

Whalen, the first female leader at this level at the company, will lead Expedia Group’s global finance organization, and will have a high-profile position, helping to explain the company’s performance during earnings call and conferences. She will remain on the Expedia board as a non-independent member.

Julie Whalen, the new Expedia Group chief financial officer. Source: Expedia Group

Hart, who has been with Expedia Group for more than 13 years, and the company’s chief financial officer since 2019, will stay on for a brief transition period until October 1, and will remain on the supervisory board of Trivago, an Expedia Group brand, as well as on the board of the Global Business Travel Group, where Expedia is an investor.

Expedia Group said Hart will “pursue new opportunities.”

“Mr. Hart’s separation did not result from any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company’s or Expedia’s operations, policies or practices, including accounting principles and practices,” Expedia Group stated in a financial filing.

Whalen has been chief financial officer of Williams-Sonoma since 2012. Her estimated total compensation, as announced in 2021, was nearly $6 million.

“Ms. Whalen also has been a key proponent of driving the company’s ESG- [Environmental, Social and Governance] related priorities,” Williams-Sonoma said in a financial filing in April.

Whalen was a member of the Expedia Group board’s audit committee since June 2019, and has chaired the committee since 2020.

Hart also had the Expedia Group title chief strategy officer. Whalen does not have that official role.

Online Travel

FareHarbor Acting CEO Ted Clements to Step Down

1 year ago

Ted Clements, FareHarbor’s acting CEO who served as chief operating officer for the last three years, will step down from these positions in September, Skift has learned.

A small group tour of the Vatican. Source: Viator

Staff was informed of the move Tuesday, and no replacement has been named. Clements plans to stay in Amsterdam, headquarters for sister company Booking.com, and may pursue new opportunities, according to the announcement.

Rob Ransom, senior vice president, global strategy and business development for Booking Holdings, made the internal announcement, and said he would play a more active role in FareHarbor.

FareHarbor more than doubled its revenue during the years Clements served as chief operating officer, according to the announcement.

Tours and activities are key to Booking Holdings’ connected trip strategy, which aims to provide a hassle-free travel experience throughout the journey.

Booking Holdings acquired FareHarbor, a tours and activities technology and distribution platform, in 2018 for $139 milliion net of cash acquired and $110 million in stock.

FareHarbor co-founders Lawrence Hester and brother Zachary Hester left Booking Holdings in July 2021. Max Valverde, who served as FareHarbor CEO from 2019 to 2021, likewise left Booking at that time.

FareHarbor’s strategy has evolved over the last few years, evolving from an exclusively build-your-own strategy model in the early days under Booking Holdings to include FareHarbor outsourcing some of that work to partners such as TUI’s Musement and Viator in recent years.

The changing of the guard at FareHarbor comes as Google is getting more aggressive in building its own “things to do” business with an emphasis on big attractions. Booking engines such as FareHarbor and Peek participate in Google’s offering.

Watch out for updates.

Online Travel

Lastminute.com Group Names Interim CEO to Replace 2 Execs Detained by Swiss Authorities

2 years ago

Lastminute.com Group announced Monday that the board appointed Laura Amoretti as interim CEO, effective immediately, and stripped CEO Fabio Cannavale and Chief Operating Officer Andrea Bertoli of all duties at the company for three months because of the Swiss fraud investigation.

Cannavale and Bertoli have been detained by Swiss authorities over allegations that the Amsterdam-based online travel company misused Swiss-provided Covid-relief aid.

The board announced it will launch a search for a permanent CEO.

Amoretti has served as the Group’s chief customer officer since 2019.

Board chairman Laurent Foata said in a statement: “Laura is a very committed and dynamic leader with vision, energy and substantial relevant experience with our group. Her contribution will be especially precious at this juncture. We look forward to engaging closely with Laura in her new role as she will lead our business forward in this stage of our journey towards profitable growth in the field of travel.”