Executive shake-up at TravelMuse as CFO Lemelin becomes CEONewsBy Dennis Schaal | October 19, 2009Share This article was originally published on Travel-planning website TravelMuse is looking for some inspiration and more monetization as it promotes CFO Russ Lemelin to CEO and assigns co-founder and CEO Kevin Fliess to a board position.In separate interviews, both Lemelin and Fliess say Fliess several months ago broached the subject to the board of making a change to get the company, launched in beta in September 2008, to profitability.I haven't see any board minutes so I can't say whether or not this is merely well-coordinated spin."This was initiated by Kevin and I think the board feels good about having my hands on the rudder now," Lemelin says.For Lemelin, the transition from CFO to CEO is, as a famous ex-Yankees catcher put it, deja vu all over again.In 2006, Lemelin took a similar route at SideStep, moving from CFO to interim CEO.The CEO title at TravelMuse, which became effective today, doesn't carry an interim tag."I'm hoping for the same outcome," Lemelin says, referring to Kayak's late 2007 acquisition of SideStep for some $200 million, or as he labels it, "a liquidity event that was good for employees and shareholders."Lemelin says TravelMuse is not focused on a liquidity event, but on "building the business, a real business. The rest will take care of itself."The jury is still out on the inspirers, aka the travel-planning category, as to whether the sector can field some money-makers.TravelMuse, Lemelin says, attracts revenue from traditional advertising, Google AdSense, BookingBuddy's facilitated search, Travelzoo's syndicated deals, and a partnership with Travelocity's WorldChoice Travel. He rules out looking to metasearch as an answer."We still have some work to do," says Lemelin, who joined TravelMuse in September 2008. "We are getting paid, which is important, but our DNA is not about maximizing short-term revenue as a planning application. You want people to plan and spend time on the site. If you get that right, then it's a great category."Sam Shank, the CEO of DealBase, several years ago founded hotel-review site TravelPost and knows Lemelin because SideStep acquired TravelPost in 2006.Shank says Lemelin is well-suited for his new TravelMuse challenges because his "quantitative skills" enable him "to understand everything on the website" and to develop appropriate monetization strategies.Meanwhile, Fliess emailed contacts about the transition, saying, "I'm proud to have led TravelMuse from its founding on PowerPoint in April 2007 to segment leader with 3 million visits a year."Expanding on the e-mail, Fliess says his strength is product innovation and brand-building and Lemelin will focus on "profitability and growth."Fliess says he will take on special projects for the TravelMuse board, and beyond TravelMuse will be advising start-ups and "figuring out another big impact."Correction: The original version of this story erroneously noted when Lemelin joined TravelMuse. He became CFO in September 2008.