Newspaper article

Travel Executives Will Play Lead Roles in Best Buy's Transformation

Newspaper article

Travel Executives Will Play Lead Roles in Best Buy's Transformation

Article excerpt

The Great Recession and Internet comparison shoppers forced airlines and travel agencies to rapidly revamp their business models or die.

Now consumer electronics giant Best Buy is attempting to transform its business strategy by tapping two prominent executives who reshaped the travel business.

Hubert Joly, who became Best Buy's new CEO the day after Labor Day, was viewed by analysts as a surprise choice because he didn't come from the retail environment. He was lured to the Best Buy post after serving as the chief executive of Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

This month, Best Buy hired another travel-industry leader, Scott Durchslag, who was president of Expedia Worldwide, the world's largest online travel agency. Durchslag will be president of Best Buy's Online and Global e-Commerce.

At Carlson and Expedia, Joly and Durchslag needed to define the different segments of travel consumers, identify what types of services they wanted, and create revenue streams in a highly competitive industry that could sustain their businesses. Expedia differentiated itself from individual airline websites, and Carlson provided an array of services for corporate travel clients.

Speed is crucial

In the airline and travel industry, speed in management decision- making is crucial because competitors are changing prices on a daily basis and constantly upgrading technology options to increase consumer choices.

As Best Buy faces intense competition from online and discount retailers, the two travel executives are now poised to use the lessons they learned to try to turn around Best Buy's financial performance.

Heading into the critical holiday shopping season, Best Buy disclosed Friday that its front-line employees will have the ability to match prices on Amazon. …

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