Travel Leaders Group names new CEO

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Ninan Chacko returns to the travel industry after a six-year stretch as CEO of PR Newswire.

Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group since 2008, stepped down from the position and was replaced by Ninan Chacko, effective immediately.

Liben will focus on running Tzell Travel, the New York-based travel agency he has led since 1977. Travel Leaders acquired Tzell in 2008.

Chacko returns to the travel industry after a six-year stretch as CEO of PR Newswire. Before joining PR Newswire, Chacko was Worldspan’s chief commercial officer, responsible for sales, marketing, operations, service and support activities for customers, which included including Tzell, Travel Leaders Corporate and Travel Leaders Franchise Group. He left Worldspan after the company was sold to Travelport.

Chacko was part of the management team that acquired Worldspan from Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines and American Airlines. Prior to that, he spent 13 years at Sabre, where he was senior vice president among other leadership roles.

Barry Liben
Barry Liben

Liben will remain on the Travel leaders Group board of directors.

“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,” Liben said in a message to Travel Leaders Group employees.

Chacko said it was an “honor” to take over Liben’s position.

“I look forward to working with Travel Leaders Group’s extraordinary leadership team in writing the next chapter for this organization,” Chacko said.

Michael Batt, Travel Leaders Group founder and chairman, said Chacko’s “unique experience and knowledge will prove invaluable in driving further success for all the companies within our group.”

Batt thanked Liben for his leadership.

“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,” Batt said.

Travel Leaders Group is a $20 billion company. About 30% of all travel agencies in North America are under the Travel Leaders Group umbrella as a wholly-owned business, franchise or consortium member.

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