Kayak unveils European managing director

Meta search engine Kayak has appointed former-Skype executive Faisal Galaria to become its first European managing director, Travolution can reveal.

Galaria, who joins the company on September 8, will also have responsibility for the company’s Asian business and is being hailed as one of the most important appointments in Kayak’s history.

Based in London and reporting directly to co-founder and chief executive Steve Hafner, Galaria will work alongside executive vice president for corporate development Keith Melnick and is charged with growing the company’s presence across Europe and launching new sites in Asia.

Prior to joining Kayak, Galaria was general manager and vice president for corporate development at Jaman.com, an online film specialist which works with the likes of TiVO and Hollywood movie giant, Paramount Pictures.

Previously Galaria oversaw the introduction of global partnerships for instant messaging giant Skype with a range of companies including Bebo, Sony, HP, Dixons and McAfee.

He also ran global business development for FON following an investment by Skype, working with BT in the UK and Time Warner in the US.

Galaria joins US-based Kayak during what many believe is a critical point in the company’s short history as it looks to increase traffic volume across its European sites and tap into the burgeoning Asian marketplace.

Kayak still plays second fiddle to the likes of Travelsupermarket in the UK in terms of users but is considered to be one of the strongest contenders amongst the US meta search engines to make a serious impact outside of the more mature North American market.

During its launch phase the European arm was initially overseen by ex-Guardian exec Annie Wilson who will remain as head of business development. Faisal’s first job will be to appoint a European sales manager.

Hafner said Faisal’s experience in international business development “will help us gain market share for our websites in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and India”.

“With Faisal on board, we can build an experienced team in Europe to facilitate and manage relationships with travel providers and strategic partnerships beyond the travel industry with leading global brands,” he added.

It is still unclear if Faisal’s appointment will coincide with the relaunch of the Sidestep brand in Europe.

Kayak bought rival meta search engine Sidestep in December 2007 and closed the UK website within weeks. In April this year Hafner told Travolution that it was examining whether to resurrect the Sidestep business outside of the US.

Galaria said: “Kayak.com is one of the most exciting companies in the online travel industry.

“They have built a world-class ensemble of talent and created a company and a product with the most compelling online travel search experience.”


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