New Kayak Europe MD outlines expansion plans

Kayak is gearing up for massive expansion outside the US with territories including the UK expected to make up larger share of the bottom line.

Speaking in his first week as managing director of Europe and Asia, Faisal Galaria told Travolution the meta search specialist had set “impressive” goals for 2009 with the priority on filling sales and marketing roles first.

Candidates are already being seen for the European sales manager role.

Galaria said that international markets currently contribute between five and 10% of revenues.

“One of the things is to make sure the international part starts to become a significant contributor to the overall growth story of kayak so you will see faster growth for international. Europe is a faster growing online travel economy and has not yet been penetrated in the same way as the US and we’re gearing up to take significant slice of that pie.”

He added that he had decided to take up the role because of the product and what he described as its “propel ahead engineering”.

“It is by far the market leader and it kills the competition so we need to start leveraging some of that and building awareness. Then, it will sell itself.”

Galaria said the company would be focussing heavily on promoting the brand through partnering with online distribution partners, internet service providers, communities and portals as well as looking at viral marketing, CRM and personalisation. Kayak has already ramped up its UK search engine marketing spend.

“It’s about extending the reach and increasing searches and page impressions which is why we need to build the marketing team.  Once you get that tipping point it will be self-sustaining.”

He added that it would take until at least December before the team was in place.

“However the goals and objectives shake out it is going to be a multi country roll out of kayak in 09. The European travel market is growing very quickly and that represents a huge opportunity.”

He also talked about the potential for creating greater revenue opportunities with a greater emphasis on higher value sales such as package holidays.

Relaunching sister site Sidestep in the UK is not a priority despite Kayak’s chief executive Steve Hafner’s telling Travolution it was a possibility, earlier this year.

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