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Hotwire Replaces President as Priceline Makes Gains

@denschaal

Skift Take

A changing of the guard at Hotwire was inevitable given the challenges it has faced all year due to Priceline’s advertising and overall gains. Hotwire’s own advertising wasn’t effective enough to blunt the onslaught.

— Dennis Schaal

William Shatner and Kelly Cuoco, the stars of Priceline’s Express Deals advertising blitz, have notches on their belts as competitor¬†Hotwire Group has brought in a new president.

There was no official Expedia announcements about the shakeup, but Skift has learned that Hotwire Group president Clem Bason has left the post, and he’s been replaced by Henrik Kjelberg, who has a long resume with Expedia Inc. and still serves as chairman of Expedia subsidiary eLong.

In response to an inquiry, Hotwire confirmed the move.

As group president, Kjelberg is responsible for discount hotel and car-rental site Hotwire, as well as sister company CarRentals.com.

Hotwire and Priceline Express Deals both offer hotel discounts where you know the price up-front, and learn the identity of the hotel after booking.

After Priceline last year killed off Shatner’s The Negotiator character, as spokesman for its Name Your Own Price bidding service, it began to emphasize Express Deals, and has featured Shatner and Cuoco as the stars of a TV advertising campaign all year long.

Expedia has acknowledged Hotwire’s under-performance at the hands of Priceline both in the first and second quarters.

Bason, who worked at Hotwire since 2006, served as president for nearly five years until now.

“We were pretty sad to see Clem go, but happy for him on a personal level,” a Hotwire spokesperson says.¬†“He and his wife are raising their young children in San Francisco, and Clem is taking on a new position by swapping roles with his wife. As she steps back into her business, Clem is happily stepping into a full-time role with his family.”

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