The recent transition of travel technology specialist Travelport into private ownership will not be the only major change at the company with news this week that after almost 30 years with almost a decade of them as president and CEO, Gordon Wilson is to step down from his position later this year. The selection of a former Sabre executive as his successor perhaps offers an insight into the development aspirations of new investors Siris Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital.
The view from executive chairman of Travelport and Siris executive partner John Swainson that Mr Wilson had made “an enormous contribution to Travelport” is clear, ultimately ending with delisting of its shares from the New York Stock Exchange and guiding the company’s path to private control. Mr Wilson believes the deal will help Travelport to execute “an exciting new phase of innovation and industry leadership” as it continues to transform its business.
Speaking at the CAPA – Centre for Aviation Airline CEOs in Seoul Summit in South Korea shortly after the long-awaited conclusion of the deal, Mr Wilson acknowledged the privatisation was “very positive for our company” and a month later in a statement announcing his departure he reaffirms the new investors “will be good for the company”.
He shared his views on future plans for the GDS, provided an update on Travelport’s own NDC offering and discussed the value it provides to agents and airlines all over the world in this exclusive CAPA TV interview at the Seoul event.
As the global business environment and in particular the travel industry is changing, so to has Travelport, but it has always found itself in the shadows of Sabre and Amadeus. After performing strongly in 2018, its latest financial earnings for the first quarter of 2019 received a downbeat assessment from the market.
Last year had seen annual revenues grow above USD2.5 billion, up +4% on the previous full year, but in 1Q net revenue fell -3% year-on-year to $657 million year-over-year. Notably, income fell by around two thirds over the same period fell to USD20 million from USD59 million.
Gregg Webb, the new CEO of Travelport
Travelport highlights Greg Webb, who will take up his responsibilities from 01-Aug-2019, brings with him “deep industry knowledge and a strong track record of commercial and operational execution. Newly appointed chairman John Swainson also highlights Mr Webb’s “industry knowledge, customer-focused experience and understanding of how to best monetise technology platforms” as key skills.
Mr Webb was most recently senior vice president and general manager of travel technology solutions provider Oracle Hospitality where he was responsible for strategy, enablement, development, sales, service and support. Before that, he was vice chairman at Sabre, where he spent 20 years of his career in various executive positions across product development and marketing and ultimately led Sabre’s largest business unit, Sabre Travel Network.
Travelport was formed in Aug-2006 when Cendant Corporation sold Orbitz and Galileo to The Blackstone Group, having purchased the latter just five years earlier, but traces its origins back to 1971. Mr Wilson’s career experience in global travel distribution had seen him hold CEO positions with Galileo and Cendant Travel Distribution Services before being appointed president and CEO of the Travelport GDS division since Jan-2007, deputy CEO in Nov-2009 and president and CEO in 2011.