Travelport has taken a controlling 55% interest in fast-growing Australian corporate travel technology company, Locomote, as part of its drive to develop new digital services and mobile capabilities for the travel industry.
Travelport said its investment is an integral part of its ongoing strategy to redefine travel commerce to address previously unmet needs – in this case through the provision of “state-of-the-art digital and mobile services for business travellers”.
Travelport’s president and chief executive, Gordon Wilson, said that after Travelport’s initial investment in Locomote in 2013, the move to a majority stake was consistent with the company’s ongoing drive to develop new digital services and mobile capabilities for the travel industry.
“Corporate travel needs and demands, content, and the demographic make-up of travellers are all changing rapidly. Travelport intends to be at the forefront of these changes as we deploy our content and technology assets to address them. Locomote, which approached the market with a clean slate and a fresh approach, is a key part of how we envision the future. What has been done here is consistent with the vision that Philip Weinman and I mapped out together when we first began our association in 2013.”
Following the increased investment, Travelport, and Locomote founding investor and chief executive, Philip Weinman, have jointly named Sandra McLeod as Locomote’s new chief executive, whilst Weinman steps into a role as vice chairman.
McLeod brings to Locomote 25 years of highly varied, international experience within travel technology achieved during her career at Travelport; most recently as group vice president for global accounts and corporate development. In this role, McLeod had overall global responsibility for developing and executing a customer-focused strategy to service, support and help grow Travelport’s business with its largest global travel management companies (TMCs), as well as building direct relationships with the corporate travel buyers and in-house travel managers at several of the world’s biggest corporations.
In his new role as vice chairman of Locomote, Philip Weinman will also provide broader strategic counsel and guidance to Travelport on its wider mobile and digital services strategy.
Meanwhile, Philip Emery, Travelport’s chief financial officer, has been appointed as chairman of the Locomote board. All appointments take immediate effect with McLeod transitioning into her new role based in Melbourne in the New Year.
“Philip Weinman moving into the vice chairman role means that we will continue to benefit from his incredible business acumen, energy and insights into corporate travel technology and innovation,” Wilson said.
“However, it also means that he will have more time to focus on providing counsel and advice to me and the rest of the team as we move forward with our digital services strategy on a global basis.
“I am also pleased that we have been able to further strengthen the Locomote board by appointing Philip Emery as chairman. Not only will the business benefit from the contribution Philip will make as a key member of my global management team, but the appointment will create greater connectivity between Locomote and our other digital assets such as mobile travel commerce provider MTT and our B2B payments company, eNett.”
Weinman said that the strengthened partnership between the two companies will support Locomote to continue its focus on driving an improved corporate travel experience and to grow on an international scale.
As well as the appointment of McLeod, Travelport has announced the following leadership changes to its commercial team:
Scott Hyden, formerly group vice president and managing director for Travelport Americas, becomes group vice president, Enterprise Customer Group. This newly formed group takes on responsibility for McLeod’s former role with global TMCs and corporate customers and adds to it responsibility for the company’s largest Online Travel Agency customers, such as Expedia and Priceline who operate across multiple geographies and with whom Hyden already has close working relationships. Before joining Travelport, Hyden served as President of STA Travel Inc., the largest global student and youth travel agency, and before that he was General Manager for Travelocity Business. Prior to this he spent 10 years in a number of roles at American Airlines.
In turn, Bret Kidd, has been appointed as the new group vice president and managing director for Travelport Americas and will have overall responsibility for the company’s travel agency, TMC and regional OTA customers across the region. Kidd joined Travelport from Stratos Management Systems, a private equity backed IT services firm that he co-founded and grew to over USD 130 million. Previously, Kidd worked for HP in a number of senior roles including leading the HP Enterprise Services’ Global Public Sector Group and managing large customer accounts in the Travel and Transportation sector.
Dan Westbrook replaces Kidd as vice president and general manager for Travelport’s Air Commerce Technologies business. Travelport Air Commerce Technologies delivers IT and Business Intelligence solutions to airlines around the world and names Delta and Emirates amongst its customers. An experienced airline industry executive, Westbrook joined Travelport in April 2009 and previously held senior roles in travel merchandising at Sabre and before that spent nearly 20 years at American Airlines.
Commenting on developments, Wilson said:
“These changes enable an even tighter alignment of Travelport around our desire to redefine travel commerce and fuel the growth of our customers around the world. We are fully intent on continuing to grow in key geographies, and amongst key customer segments, and these moves, which realign some of our key executives in our commercial function give us greater momentum to do just that.
“Also, when our new chief commercial officer, Stephen Shurrock, joins the company from Telefonica in early January, he will play a further pivotal role in leading and delivering growth across Hospitality, Airline and Agency Commerce.”
Edited by Peter Needham