Jan 18, 2024 - Business

Communicator Spotlight: Leslie Cafferty of Booking Holdings

Photo illustration of Booking Holdings CCO Leslie Cafferty next to graphic shapes appearing like woven lines.

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Courtesy of Booking Holdings

As chief communications officer of Booking Holdings, Leslie Cafferty considers herself to be the voice of the company.

Why it matters: Booking Holdings is the parent company of travel and leisure brands like Booking.com, Kayak, Priceline and OpenTable and reaches millions of travelers each year.

πŸ“How she got here: She started her career as an executive assistant at the internet holding company IAC and worked her way up to director of global communications.

  • As an executive assistant, "I saw the communications team advising our CEO very specifically on what to do and what not to do. I got a glimpse into the role of communications and how interesting it was β€” and it was unlike anything I had ever known."
  • After roughly a decade at IAC, Cafferty joined Nielsen to oversee marketing and communications before joining Booking Holdings in 2013.

πŸ— How it's structured: Cafferty reports to CEO Glenn Fogel and manages a team of four communicators within Booking Holdings and a team of 60 communicators at Booking.com.

  • The communication teams within each of the other brands have a dotted line into her and manage corporate communications, consumer and product communications, internal communications and owned social media.

πŸ—£What she's saying: "When I started [in the workforce], businesses didn't speak about anything other than business β€” and even then it was only four times a year during earnings calls and that's it," says Cafferty.

  • "Now, the expectations of employees and you can argue society, is that CEOs should have a point of view on things. ... And I think there's value in some scenarios to have a voice on things and not on others, but that too is constantly changing."

πŸ’‘ CEOs should know that communicators "can't make a negative go away," says Cafferty.

  • "You have to educate [executives] on how communications can create influence, the role that we play, and how we can counterbalance with specific messages. But if something is factual, and it's being reported on, there's no magic sauce that you can use to make it go away."

πŸ‘€ Who she's watching: Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.

πŸ“ˆ Trend spot: The fluctuating channels of communication.

  • "How you tailor a message and decide which channel to put it on β€” whether that's social media, traditional media or elsewhere β€” is incredibly complex. Gone are the days where you write a press release and push it over a wire, it's just a lot more nuanced than that."

🍝 De-stress routine: Cooking β€” her go-to recipe is a country-style rigatoni, which is a hit with her three kids, ages 11, 9 and 6.

🧠 Best advice: Don't procrastinate.

  • "I love the saying, 'Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today' and I try to keep that in mind in both my career and my personal life."

Subscribe to Axios Communicators.

Go deeper