WOTIF BOOKS PROFIT ONLINE

Written on the 6 April 2011

WOTIF BOOKS PROFIT ONLINE

ONLINE travel booker Wotif.com has posted NPAT of $25.4 million for the December half.

As the company moves into its new premises at Milton, managing director Robbie Cooke (pictured) says the consumer environment has changed post economic downturn.

“Consumer confidence was down, people weren’t looking to travel offshore, they were worried about whether they still had jobs – people still took holidays, but their choices changed, they traveled more domestically,” says Cooke.

“The corporate market had deteriorated, so there was a lot of spare stock available, which meant there were some great deals available domestically and that worked in our favour. When the Australian dollar strengthened, consumer confidence got a boost and there was an increase in demand for overseas travel, so there was a lot overseas activity at that time.”

Cooke says one of the ongoing challenges the company faces is the perception that booking travel online is complicated.

“I think people are still nervous about booking their overseas holidays online – a lot of people still go to travel agents because they perceive booking their travel online as more complicated,” he says.

“People seem to think that if they’re booking an international flight or offshore accommodation, that it’s more tricky to do online even though it isn’t, so that’s a challenge for us and the opportunity is to convince people that it’s no more difficult booking a flight and accommodation domestically than it is internationally.

“We’re in 58 countries overseas – I think sometimes we’re seen as an Australian or New Zealand travel site only, but we’ve got the full spectrum of off shores – we’ve got more than 18 000 hotels around the globe to offer.”

Cooke says the company’s focus on promotions is built around providing a value proposition to customers.

“Last month our booking window went from three months to six months - it’s something that’s important if you are traveling overseas because you do tend to book in advance -he business started with a 10 day booking and it’s been slowly extended over time,” he says.

“We also run a number of promotions on the wotif.com website including wotbonus, wotflight offers and wotif Wednesdays which are designed to add value and provide us with the opportunity to cross market to customers.”

Wotflight.com was launched with domestic flight offerings in July 2010 with added trans-Tasman flights recently added.

“Sometime in the next couple of months, we’ll launch international flights, so hopefully in the next four months we’ll see the business have the full spectrum of flights,” says Cooke.

“In January of last year, we also bought a business called godo.com.au, which is an activity based site that includes hot air ballooning, v8 motor car racing and spas, which fits nicely with our existing proposition and it’s performing well.”

The company moved into new digs at the beginning of this year and Cooke had an active role in the design of the new office in Milton with floods affecting the process.

“In our old office, we were on three different levels and with a small company you wouldn’t think that would be much of an issue, but there were cliques and niches on every level,” says Cooke.

Kaylene Gaffney was appointed as a non-executive member of the board in November 2010. Gaffney has a background in accounting and previously worked for Virgin Blue.

TOP PUBLIC COMPANIES PROFILE: No.12 Wofit (WTF)

CEO: ROBBIE COOKE
MARKET CAP: $1 billion
REVENUE '10: $136 million
PROFIT ’10: $53 million
STAFF: 450 staff (145 in Brisbane)
ESTABLISHED: 2000


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