Former Expedia CEO Goes for a Ride

Reporting for duty! As of Wednesday (8/30), Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia, has officially started his new role as Chief Executive Officer of Uber.

Khosrowshahi exits Expedia after more than 12 years at the helm. Throughout his tenure, the company grew into one of the world’s largest and most successful travel booking sites through a series of Khosrowshahi-led acquisitions – including Travelocity, Trivago, and Orbitz.

Shares of Expedia dropped more than 4 percent upon the news breaking earlier this week, indicating a perceived major loss for the company with the departure of its leader. The online travel agency monster will now scramble to replace Khosrowshahi and forge a new path into the future.

As for Khosrowshahi, the decision was “one of the toughest decisions” of his life and he’s “scared”, according to a memo acquired by Recode. And for good reason. While taking on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Uber, he’s also walking into a tumultuous situation.

2017 has not been kind to the ride-share app. In chronological order: the #DeleteUber movement saw over 200,000 customers delete the app after the company did not support a movement against President Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

"The company has been without true leadership since."

An internal investigation was launched against a blog post alleging sexism and gender bias within the company; former CEO Travis Kalanick was caught verbally assaulting a (Uber) driver; a controversial “Greyball” tool that was designed to evade police was discovered by government authorities; and then Travis Kalanick finally stepped down as CEO in June. The company has been without true leadership since.

Even with all the negative publicity, Uber is still an outrageously popular and growing tool, however. According to MarketWatch, the company was recently valued at $66 billion.

Now that Uber has its (new) captain, the company will see if it can right the ship and steer towards an IPO. As for Expedia, the rest of the travel industry may be breathing a sigh of relief, as the OTA giant tries to regather itself.

Here’s some more travel news that you can use:

  • Hurricane Harvey is taking its toll on human life, infrastructure, and even the Houston hotel industry. According to Skift, Houston’s hotel market, already the worst-performing in the U.S., is inevitably destined to take even more of a pounding as the unrelenting hurricane creates chaos in a city that’s been reeling from low oil prices for the past three years.
  • Hyatt acquires another wellness brand. According to USA Today, Hyatt Hotels is expanding its fitness and wellness offerings by purchasing Exhale. Exhale has 25 locations throughout the United States and the Caribbean, and offers boutique fitness classes and spa services.

In January, Hyatt announced the acquisition of Miraval Group, a wellness resort and spa company, for $375 million. It appears Hyatt plans to integrate the new offerings into its portfolio, providing its customers with new experiences and amenities.

  • Chinese airlines are facing headwinds. Reuters is reporting that Air China and China Southern Airlines posted a 3.8 percent and 11.6 percent decline in profits respectively. Although the airlines serve the world’s fastest growing air travel market, rising operational costs and falling returns are wreaking havoc on the industry. While profits are down, the airliners hope a strong yuan can pull them out of the tailspin.

Sources: Recode, MarketWatch, Skift, USA Today, Exhale, Reuters

Posted by Pete Bahrenburg