Jeffrey Katz, Chairman, CEO and founder of Orbitz, took a controversial session at the PhoCusWright conference. The theme of this presentation was loyalty - for both customers and suppliers.
Jeffrey commented: “For the first time, we can see companies taking advantage of the savings that the internet provides”. He attributes this to employees becoming more cost-conscience but also, and crucially, to the recognition of online brands. He predicted: “The next 3 to 5 years will see the growth of corporate travel. This is not something that we will be able to stop, but must keep up with - It’s really happening”
Addressing the controversial topic of reaching a balance between supplier and consumer needs, Katz commented: “We are responsive to supplier needs and do not foresee breaking the mould”.
He stated that he considers it to be essential for Orbitz to maintain their low-cost base and raised the issue of the possible introduction of online loyalty programs for web sites, noting that although these schemes can be very effective, they are also very expensive.
In response to a question from the floor about Orbitz’ annoying pop-ups, Jeffrey commented: “As long as you keep buying tickets from dunk the punk, we’ll keep selling them - they are very effective. You’d be surprised by how many CEO’s play those games”.
Jeffrey was also asked whether he foresaw the emergence of another major online player, to which he replied: “Yes we believe there could be one. There is certainly still space in online travel for this to be pursued and if the right player comes along with the right technology, then yes.
Finishing up on a positive note, Jeffrey commented: “Soon travel e-commerce will be the norm, not the exception”.