The online travel company Wotif has signalled its intention to beef up its presence in Asia after naming Scott Blume, an executive with significant experience in the region, as its new chief executive.
Speaking from Jakarta today, Mr Bloom said e-commerce was just starting to emerge in many markets in Asia because people had previously been uncomfortable booking online or did not have the means to do so.
‘‘Obviously, part of the reason I am involved [at Wotif] is because long-term there are still significant growth opportunities in Asia,’’ he said.
‘‘We will look all opportunities to continue to develop the brands in Australia. If opportunities emerge in Asia, with my background, I will be able to explore those as well.’’
Mr Bloom replaces Robbie Cooke, who announced in September that he was leaving Wotif to assume the role as chief executive at gaming and lotteries operator Tatts.
The departure of Mr Cooke, who has been CEO at Wotif since 2007, was seen as a blow for the online travel company, which has faced challenges from a strong dollar and cheap airfares encouraging Australians to travel overseas. Wotif makes the bulk of its earnings from domestic bookings.
Mr Bloom said he still believed their was potential to grow all of Wotif’s brands because consumers were still shifting to online devices such as smart phones or tablets.
After assuming the reins early next month, he will spend the first few months formulating a plan to decide where Wotif’s biggest growth potential lies.
Mr Blume has spent 10 years working in Singapore, India, and Indonesia, which has included time as president of online travel agency Travelocity and chief executive of Zuji.
His latest role has been as chief executive of the Indonesian RKI Group.
He has also spent over four years as a non-executive director of the Singapore Tourism Board.
Wotif’s chairman, Dick McIlwain, said Mr Blume’s experience covered both e-commerce and business travel support services, which were important parts of the company’s business model.
Mr McIlwain said the company had considered a number of ‘‘high-calibre internal and external candidates’’ during its search for a replacement for Mr Cooke.
Before working in Asia, Mr Blume was the chief executive of the ASX-listed ITG Limited and a managing director of Carlson Wagonlit. He also worked at Flight Centre and Traveland.
Wotif has also announced the appointment of David Do, a businessman with ‘‘significant experience in Asia’’ in digital commerce, as a non-executive director.
Shares in Wotif rose 4 cents to $5.09 in early trading today.