ebookers in major structural shake up

ebookers president Tamer Tamar has reorganised the European operations into three regions and announced a new B2B Europe unit to focus on media and private-label revenue opportunities for the brand.

He told Travolution that ebookers was “looking to accelerate growth into 2010”. Central to the growth and a key driver of the reorganisation is the common platform on which all twelve ebookers’ European point of sales operate on. “ I think we now have the best platform in Europe of any online travel agent,” he said, “and it has given us the ability to start being more ambitious.”

Ebookers is using the same platform as Orbitz in the US and a number of initiatives which have gone live in Europe such as its “innovative mapping and the live chat function”, have already been tried and tested in Europe. Tamar said that the platform is being upgraded in the next few weeks which should make it even easier for European sites to add proven functionality from the US.

The new regional structure will simplify decision-making by grouping country sites according to “where the markets are  in terms of maturity and similar customer behaviours”.

The UK, Ireland and France are combined because they are seen as the most mature of the markets in Europe. Tamar added  that they also share a similar demand for summer sun destinations.

This division will be run by Guillaume Cussac. He joins after spending nearly six years with Expedia Europe on various general management assignments.

Pierre-Alain Regali, former managing director for ebookers Switzerland will run a unit that includes his former territory alongside Germany and Austria. Tamar said customers in these three regions were more than demanding than the rest of Europe for security and safety.

Finally, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Benelux will sit together in a unit overseen by Didrik Von Seth, formerly in charge of ebookers in Sweden/Denmark/Norway. “Service” is the key demand from this region.

Tamar also said that a pan-European role focused on “innovation in terms of customer needs” would be filled shortly and that an announcement would come around New Year.

The B2B unit will be run by Gilles Despas, former managing director for ebookers Continental Europe. The group will handle non-hotel supply, but he main focus will be to expand the media side of the ebookers business while establishing ebookers as a private-label provider. Tamar said: “Orbitz has attracted a good media spend onto its site so we’re not new to the ‘media model’. But to make it work we’ve got to get the concept deeper into the organisation so that we can offer local and regional deals to our partners.”

He added that ebookers “was currently assessing what sort of white-label product Europe needs” and that it would be able to offer “a more contemporary and customizable platform”  than what is currently on the market.

The business remains committed to a full-service online travel. “The focus will be hotels and dynamic packaging, but the air product has always been strong, and flights are important for attracting new customers to ebookers.”

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