ToursByLocals appoints former Expedia and Disney executicve as CEO

Founded by Canadians Paul Melhus and Dave Vincentin October 2008, ToursByLocals connects discerning travellers in search of customized, private tours with handpicked tour guides, providing exceptional travel experiences in over 180 countries worldwide. ToursByLocals’ private tours are consistently awarded 5-star ratings by the over 2 million travellers who have chosen them since 2008.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – After turning a dream born on the Great Wall of China into the world’s premier private tour provider, ToursByLocals CEO and Co-Founder Paul Melhus is stepping aside to make way for a new leader. ToursByLocals President Lisa Chen assumes the new role of President & CEO, while Melhus moves into the role of Executive Chairman of the Board.

Chen joined the company as President in February 2023, with prior high-profile tenures at Expedia and Disney and a deep track record of helping two-sided marketplaces sustainably scale. She has spent the past seven months learning the intricacies of the business and immersing herself in the values and vision of the company that have been the building blocks of its success.

“I’m thrilled to lead at this pivotal moment,” enthuses Chen. “With the business firing on all cylinders, a brand that is deeply beloved by our customers, and our team as a driving force, we’re set to solidify ToursByLocals as a global leader in private customized tours and further propel its already remarkable growth. Stepping into the CEO role is an honor, and I’m excited to leverage the incredible foundation laid by Paul and the team to usher in a new era of innovation and expansion.”

ToursByLocals, an online marketplace for locally guided, private tours, was recognised as one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies in 2019. After successfully navigating the pandemic, the company has continued to achieve significant double-digit growth, including over pre-Covid years. In May 2023, ToursByLocals celebrated a milestone of 2 million travellers served, and today boasts an astounding Traveller Net Promoter Score ranking of over 80.

Melhus, who will continue to play an active role on the board as Executive Chairman, says “I am excited to appoint a leader who is aligned not only with the strategy of the company, but most importantly, with the people-first culture we want to continue building,” says Melhus. “I’m immensely proud of how we’ve helped over 2 million travellers make more meaningful connections to the world through local experiences, and am excited to support Lisa in shepherding ToursByLocals into its next phase of growth. ”

Tritium Partners, who invested in ToursByLocals in December 2019,is confident in the evolution of leadership. “We believe in the ToursByLocals’ brand and management’s vision to bring its authentic, personalized private tour experiences to even more travellers worldwide,” says Brett Shobe, Managing Partner at Tritium. “Lisa’s extensive experience in fast-growing, two-sided marketplaces has primed her for bringing this company further into the spotlight.”

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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