Live from Paris: David Soskin, CEO, Cheapflights, speaking at the PhoCusWright European Executive Conference in Paris, warned that travel companies are not innovating enough in the online arena at a time when travellers want more.
Cheapflight’s mission is to create a website that delights customers. Quoting from the Financial Times, David commented: “eyeballs alone do not create a successful internet business”.
According to David, if you have a radical new concept and are an innovator, you can drive key markets. He commented: “Consumers can not conceptualise radical new concepts, but we must not be afraid of trying new ideas”.
David cited BA’s farewatcher and lastminute.com’s personalised e-newsletters as recent examples of online innovation within the online travel industry which have proved to have radically positive results.
David also stressed the importance of not becoming dependent on google or other meta search engines. He commented: “To prevent dependency, one should have a site that is so good that people will put you in their favourites”.
Cheapflights.com was acquired by David in 1999. David co-ordinated the investor group which bought out the business and became a shareholder himself, taking over as Chief Executive in March 2000. Under his guidance, Cheapflights has grown from one website to three in the UK and one in the US. The Company has increased from 300 thousand users in 2000 to 4 million montly unique users today.
In response to a question from the audience, David commented: “We have no plans to sell”.