Travel Leaders appoints Ninan Chacko to its Board of Directors as CEO

– USA, MN – Travel Leaders Group is announcing the transition in its top leadership as Barry Liben, who has served as Chief Executive Officer for the $20 billion travel agency company since 2008, hands over the helm to travel industry veteran Ninan Chacko, CTC. Liben is returning to Tzell Travel Group – a Travel Leaders Group company – as its President and CEO, while maintaining his position on the Board of Directors for the latter. As Chief Executive Officer of Travel Leaders Group and as its new Board member, Chacko is returning to the travel industry after six years as CEO of PR Newswire, the global leader of communications and global marketing solutions.

“After very thoughtful consideration – particularly during the last few months when I’ve been reminded on a daily basis just how much I’ve loved returning to my roots at Tzell, where I first began in 1977 – I’ve decided to step away from my role as CEO for all of Travel Leaders Group and instead devote my energies and attention exclusively to Tzell as its CEO,” stated Liben in a message to Travel Leaders Group employees. “I am thrilled to pass the torch of this exceptionally strong enterprise to a new Chief Executive Officer: Ninan Chacko. Ninan will add a fresh, new dimension to Travel Leaders Group that will enable us to reach greater heights. While he’s provided respected, visionary and innovative leadership to PR Newswire since 2009, what makes Ninan a particularly strong fit for Travel Leaders Group are his two decades of experience in various leadership positions within the travel and transportation industry.”

“Since its creation in 2008, Travel Leaders Group has become a recognized and powerful force within the travel industry as the largest traditional travel agency group, garnering significant respect while building a strong reputation,” noted Chacko. “After watching the spectacular rise of Travel Leaders Group, it is a distinct honor to take the reins from Barry Liben, whose leadership we salute today. I look forward to working with Travel Leaders Group’s extraordinary leadership team in writing the next chapter for this organization.”

Before joining PR Newswire in 2009, Chacko served as Chief Commercial Officer of Worldspan. In that role, he was responsible for sales, marketing, operations, service and support activities for customers and partners in over 60 countries, including Tzell, Travel Leaders Corporate and Travel Leaders Franchise Group. Chacko was also a founding member of the buyout consortium management team that acquired Worldspan from Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and American Airlines, and served as Chief Commercial Officer until its sale to Travelport.

Prior to Worldspan, Chacko spent more than 13 years with Sabre Holdings. As Senior Vice President, he led the development, launch and operation of Sabre’s hotel merchant business in the travel agency channel and the creation and execution of Sabre’s consortia network strategy to influence and monetize travel retailing. During his time with Sabre, he served in a variety of leadership roles, including Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Sabre Travel Network and Senior Vice President of Global Services. Chacko began his career with System One Corporation before joining American Airlines.

“With his exceptional travel agency knowledge and track record of product and technological innovation, we are delighted to bring Ninan Chacko into Travel Leaders Group. His unique experience and knowledge will prove invaluable in driving further success for all the companies within our Group.” said Michael Batt, Founder and Chairman of Travel Leaders Group since its inception in 2008. “I also want to personally extend my deepest appreciation to my great friend and colleague Barry Liben, with whom I’ve enjoyed building Travel Leaders into the undisputed leader in the traditional travel agency segment. Under Barry’s leadership all our brands have flourished and grown in the United States and the United Kingdom, and in addition we have also expanded into Australia, Canada, Greece and Ireland. Barry and I will continue to serve on the Board of Travel Leaders Group, along with Ninan, in helping him and the rest of the Board take the company to the next level.”

In thanking Travel Leaders Group employees for their contributions, Liben wrote, “It has been a true honor and privilege to serve as CEO. I’m very proud of the legacy I’m leaving behind, because it’s a shared one with you. I recognize that it’s thanks to individuals like you – along with our 45,000 travel agents – that we’ve not only become the leading traditional travel agency company in North America, but also its most respected. Like you, I look forward to contributing to Travel Leaders Group’s continued rise in my ongoing roles both on the Board and at Tzell.”

Travel Leaders Group is a $20 billion powerhouse in the travel industry, comprising approximately 30% of all travel agencies in North America that are wholly-owned, franchised, or member agencies. It’s a leader in both the retail travel agency space and corporate travel, and consistently ranks as one of the top travel companies nationwide.

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