Thursday, March 06, 2008

PhoCusWright@ITB: Five alive to challenges ahead

PhoCusWright@ITB's opening session saw five leading dotcoms put on the spot when asked about the challenges ahead. MD Alan Josephs and Opodo's CEO Ignacio Marcos both expressed concerns about technology. Josephs said that the challenge was getting the new innovations to market before rivals: Martos expressed concerns, for hotel supply at least, that supplier systems were still limiting the inventory available to the consumer.

Expedia and appear more confident in their own systems. Expedia Germany boss Jens-Uwe Parkitny talked about monetizing the traffic as a challenge (see other post). Ian McCaig talked about the challenge of maintaining a relationship with people who had been using the site for ten years at the same time as attracting new users in new segments.

The least famous of the five on the podium was Javier PĂ©rez-Tenessa, founder and CEO of
eDreams. This OTA might not have a great presence in the UK, yet, but London/US-based private equity firm TA Associates backed a £100m+ leveraged buy-out of the business in October 06.

Perez-Tenessa is also looking at the challenge of getting suppliers to pay for what is effectively ‘free branding on the site' (cf – media model post). But despite the challenges, Perez-Tenessa was quite optimistic, about his business and the sector. ‘Growth will be strong without doing much’.

Maybe for a business strong in markets with relatively low internet penetration; not so sure whether his four co-panellists think the same.

Martin Cowen, chief writer, Travolution

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