May 2012, Singapore
Wego appoints Ross Veitch as CEO, plans 34 new country sites
Singapore-based travel meta-search site Wego has appointed Ross Veitch as its new chief executive officer.
The development emerged as Martin Symes has stepped down from his role overseeing the day-to-day operations. He will remain actively involved as non-executive chairman. Symes joined Wego from Zuji in 2006. He led the business through two fund-raising rounds, a merger with Indian travel content and community site HolidayIQ.com and the establishment of subsidiaries in Indonesia and Australia. He remains a shareholder.
Symes hands over his Wego responsibilities to Veitch, previously chief product officer and who co-founded the business in 2005 following a six year stint as a senior executive of Yahoo! South East Asia.
Co-founder Craig Hewett remains in his role as Wego chief commercial officer.
Wego is to expand its business globally with the launch of 34 new country sites in 20 different languages, targeting almost all developed or emerging travel markets worldwide.
Veitch mentioned that the company, in its analysis of its user data, has found that a significant number of travellers from other parts of the world, in addition to the Asia Pacific region, have also discovered Wego and are relying on it to search for flights and hotels.
“This is why we’ve decided to localise our product fully, to better service the needs of these users,” said Veitch.
In December 2011, the company soft-launched the 34 new country sites along with a radical redesign incorporating several new features that had been in development for many months.
The new features include:
· Hotels Popular Search: An extensive data-mining exercise undertaken by Wego showed that users from different countries had clearly differentiated preferences for hotels in a given city. Using the results of this exercise, Wego now sorts hotels in a given location based on how popular they are with local users. For example, Singaporean users pay more attention to hotels that are popular with other Singaporeans. This contrasts with the approaches taken by most other hotel booking sites which sort hotels based on global popularity or worse still, how much commission they get paid, according to the company.
· DateWise Fare Finder: The most frequently requested feature from users over the last year has been a tool to help travellers who have flexible schedules identify the cheapest dates to fly. By data-mining and then summarising in graphical form the tremendous volume of flight search queries passing through Wego each day, the company has been able to achieve this.
· Flight Schedules: For many travellers, particularly those flying for business, the timing of flights is the most critical factor in flight selection. Wego has built a tool that shows schedules for all direct flights worldwide, optionally including codesharing details and importantly listing the aircraft type for each flight. Once the user has picked a flight, he/she is only one click away from checking fares and seat availability.
· Popular Destinations: Based on analysis of millions of Wego users’ diverse data trails, the company has calculated country-specific lists of the most popular destinations. Wego promotes these destinations on the homepage of each country site to make sure users always know what the best airfare deal is to get there.
“Initial reaction from users has been very positive, with traffic up 22 percent from December 2011 to January 2012 in what is normally a quiet month given the Christmas and Chinese New Year holiday weeks. This trend has continued into February giving the management team cause to be even more bullish about 2012,” stated the company.
The company has also officially announced the launch of Wego Singapore (www.wego.com.sg) which is specifically customised for the needs of Singapore travel shoppers. The site is currently available in 3 languages – English, Bahasa Malay and Simplified Chinese with a Tamil version in the works.