Former Marriott Chief Marketer Joins Atlas Obscura’s Board of Directors

Karin Timpone is in, alongside former HuffPost editor in chief Lydia Polgreen

karin timpone
Karin Timpone has previous experience in the digital media world. Getty Images

Atlas Obscura, the media and experiences company that promises to take travelers off the beaten path, has expanded its board of directors to include former Marriott global marketing officer Karin Timpone alongside former HuffPost editor in chief Lydia Polgreen.

Both are expected to help Atlas Obscura grow in an uncertain environment as the brand’s heavy investment in experiences and trips—like a photography course in Chernobyl and bird watching in New Zealand—have been taken online as the pandemic has in large part shuttered the travel industry. Last year, the brand nabbed nearly $20 million in funding, a significant amount of which came from Airbnb. 

In 2019, those investments accounted for nearly 60% of the brand’s revenue. And surprisingly, the site’s media revenue is expected to double this year, according to an Atlas Obscura spokesperson, putting it ahead of where it was last year by seeking out new brand partnerships with Tastemade and Graduate Hotels, with more to be announced later this year.

Former CEO David Plotz left the company last October after six years, and longtime media executive Warren Webster now holds the reins. The site currently lists nearly 100 trips scheduled internationally for 2021.

Timpone was approached by Atlas Obscura and will join the site a year after leaving Marriott, where she spent seven years creating and growing the brand’s Bonvoy loyalty program to more than 135 million members. Previously, she held positions at The Walt Disney Company, Yahoo and Universal Studios.

“They were looking to specifically expand their board, and I’ve had a very unique career that’s directed by where trends are going. I like to be in the early stage of something,” said Timpone, who spent the summer studying financial technology at Harvard University. “This feels like the right time, where the Atlas brand has already lived and where the world is heading.”

“Lydia and Karin bring an incredible depth of experience and knowledge that will be invaluable as we bring our mission of discovery to a global community of curious explorers,” CEO Webster said. “Atlas Obscura is the perfect brand for this moment in time. Getting people off the main mass tourism routes and onto the roads less traveled—and finding wonderful things to do at home or close to home—that’s what we do.”


@RyanBarwick ryan.barwick@adweek.com Ryan is a brand reporter covering travel, mobility and sports marketing.
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