Wego searches for wider audience, Symes steps down

WITH a new CEO on-board, Singapore-based travel search engine Wego.com yesterday announced its plans to go global with the launch of 34 new country sites in 20 different languages, targeting both developed and emerging markets worldwide.

All sites were soft-launched in December, along with a radical design and new search features. Initial reactions have been positive, with traffic up 22 per cent from December 2011 to January 2012.

CEO Ross Veitch – who took over from Martin Symes, now non-executive chairman – said: “The user data that we’ve compiled over the years identified a host of opportunities outside of Asia. Users from Europe, the Middle East and North America have discovered Wego, and now use us to search for flights and hotels.”

Veitch added that Wego was poised to seal strategic deals with travel distribution companies based in Indonesia and Malaysia by the second quarter, although he declined to reveal more.

According to Wego’s COO, Craig Hewett, Europe and the US have been the main generators of growth.

Both Veitch and Hewett are co-founders of Wego, with the former the company’s previous chief product officer.

Hewett said: “Martin Symes decided to leave his position as CEO due to personal commitments back home in the UK. He will still play an active role in the company as non-executive chairman, but will be making decisions at the board level, steering the direction of the company. Ross and I will handle all day-to-day operations.”

Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily from the UK, Symes said: “Having been involved in Wego for nearly six years, I decided to step down from the day-to-day CEO role to give me the flexibility I need for my travel schedule. In the last 18 months, I’ve had to commute to Europe for family reasons.”

When asked if his departure as CEO would put a damper on growth for the company, Symes said: “Not at all. We’ve got a good team in place now, and I felt it was the right time. I’m still actively involved on the board level. Ross is perfectly capable, and I speak to them on a daily basis.”

Added Symes: “There are also a couple of other things I want to get involved in.” Queried if this would involve an online business again, he would only say: “Travel is my forte, whether it’s offline or online. I’ve got a few ideas.”

Additional reporting by Grace Chiang

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