A true pioneer in online travel, Gillian Tans joined Booking.com in 2002 and was there when Priceline acquired the company in July 2005 for $135m in cash. Not only did she stay through the transition and integration but broke the glass ceiling to become CEO, a role she held from April 2016 to June 2019, before being named Chairwoman.
Under her watch, Tans launched in 2017 Booking Booster, a 3-week, zero-equity accelerator programme and €2 million fund to support scale-ups to grow their sustainable tourism venture. Each year, it brings 10 startups to Amsterdam to put their business plans and impact to the test. Startups from Asia have frequently shone in this programme.
An advocate as well for women in tech, she also led Booking’s initiative this year to grant €500,000 in scholarships to undergraduate and postgraduate women studying computer science, engineering, technology, and mathematics, in partnership with Spelman College and Cornell University in the United States, as well as the Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore and the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in India.
“The future of innovation is in the hands of men and women equally, and it’s our responsibility to help right the sails,” she says.
As chairwoman, advising the company’s leadership on the long-term vision and operations for the business as well as key growth initiatives, Tans continues to wield great influence on the future of online travel around the world.