When your stock price falls to around one euro per share, as eDreams Odigeo's did last year, then even the company's founder has to make an exit.
eDreams Odigeo, the flight-oriented group of booking sites based in Barcelona, appointed a new CEO and brought in Philip Wolf, the PhoCusWright founder, as non-executive chairman after eDreams founder and CEO Javier Pérez-Tenessa stepped down.
The new CEO, effective immediately, is now-former COO Dana Dunne, who has been at that post since 2012 and previously served as CEO of AOL Europe Sarl and EasyJet chief commercial officer.
In the shuffle, Wolf, who’s been an eDreams Odigeo board member since April, becomes non-executive chairman, and Pérez-Tenessa, who founded the company in 2000, assumes the role of honorary chairman.
What A Year
The shuffle in the executive ranks of eDreams Odigeo comes after a tumultuous 2014, which saw the company go public in April at 10.25 euros per share and sink to about 1 euro per share in October when British Airways and Iberia removed their flights, citing an alleged lack of transparency on airfares. The airlines’ fares have since been restored.
eDreams Odigeo’s shares rose 5.78 percent to 2.51 euros per share on the news of the executive realignment.
Dana Dunne, the new CEO, tells Skift that his first priority will be to turn around the company’s business performance through expansion in new international markets and existing ones, including the U.S., where the company has an office and small team.
Other steps, which are part of a 10-point turnaround plan, include investing more in mobile, focusing more on hotels and dynamic packages, and putting more resources into customer relationship management, Dunne says.
Google Penalty and Other Market Challenges
Dunne says eDreams faced several “market challenges” in 2014, including changes to Google’s algorithms, which adversely impacted eDreams Odigeo, and overly aggressive tactics that “were not necessarily economically rational” by well-funded competitors, especially in France and Italy.
“Competitors in some big markets were very aggressive and have done things that I don’t think were necessarily always playing by the rules, Dunne says.
What Dunne seems to be referring to are actions by competitors when they launch huge marketing campaigns that aren’t economically sustainable.
These are the types of campaigns that Greece-based AirFastTickets.com, for example, conducted in the New York area over the summer, and then went silent.
Philip Wolf to the Rescue
Dunne says the eDreams Odigeo board felt very comfortable with naming PhoCusWright founder Wolf, who joined the eDreams board around the time of the IPO in April, as non-executive chairman. It wasn’t because of any specific strategic initiative, Dunne says, but because of his diverse experience in the travel business.
Wolf, who declined to be interviewed for this article, also sits on the boards of MakeMyTrip, BusBud, Travel.ru, Dashbell, Hopper, TrustYou and Blacklane, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Dunne also cited Wolf’s “style on the board,” and his ability to bring people together, as another factor that went into his appointment.
It appears as though eDreams Odigeo’s brands, including eDreams, GoVoyages, Opodo, Travellink, and Liligo.com, will have to try to undertake some quick mage-rebuilding in 2015 as industry insiders echo British Airways’ and Iberia’s charges that airfare transparency is not the company’s strong suit.
Photo credit: eDreams Odigeo's new CEO, Dana Dunne, will have his hands full with a turnaround plan for the company in 2015. eDreams Odigeo