Karl Peterson, CEO of Hotwire spoke out at the conference about his recent acquisition by IAC.
Since their origins, Hotwire have changed their corporate identity to communicate travel, whilst maintaining their mission statement, however Karl revealed that since their acquisition by IAC, Hotwire haven’t changed their business model.
Looking ahead, Hotwire are aiming to increase segmentation whilst creating and driving incremental revenue. Karl commented that the opaque model is growing faster as the airline industry recovers.
(Interestingly, Hotwire competitor Priceline are now selling retail as well as opaque, which they claim is contributing to much higher booking levels since it has expanded their customer base.)
In defense of the popular opinion that the Internet has a negative impact on branding, Karl commented “We are selling trips to people who would have flown low-cost. We are about stimulating demand. We are the hoteliers and airlines ally in terms of making money”.
Karl also revealed that he thinks Diller should expand internationally into Canada and Western Europe.
He predicts that in three years time, Hotwire will look much the same as it does today, but with a higher profile and with more ancillary revenue streams. Karl went on to reveal that we could be at the beginning of some exciting technological changes, enabling customers access to more information about their trip, flight changes, etc..
As the battle for the number two spot in the online travel model continues, differentation has been a key theme at this year’s conference. Karl predicts that focusing on customer service will be a big differenciator for online players.