|In Comes the Horse and Tan's off the Block to Build a Stronger AirAsia Expedia.|
By Web in Travel
Friday, 7th February 2014
Well, the snake is about to slither away and the horse about to gallop in as Chinese all over the world celebrates the lunar new year this Friday and no one is more excited about the page-turner than Kathleen Tan, CEO of AirAsia Expedia.
On February 1, she will celebrate a year since she took up the reins of the joint venture between AirAsia and Expedia. And there’s no doubt it’s been a disruptive 12 months for the company as the woman, who is known to take no prisoners, came in, some say, like a whirlwind to set it on course for 2014.
Tan (right) is the first to admit that the first six months was not easy. “People were apprehensive, my reputation preceded me, I didn’t know the OTA business – 70% of the staff came from that world and I guess they were fearful that I could muck up their careers.”
But in true Tan style, she reconstructed and refocused the business – she killed kickback.com and focused on the two core brands, Expedia and AirAsia Go, moved people around and some out, and gave it a stronger Asian focus.
“The second half was more enjoyable, I started getting into my groove. There’s a new spirit in the company now, it’s fast paced and there’s mutual learning on both sides.”
In so doing, she’s beat profit forecasts – indeed, her old boss at AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, took to Twitter to announce the milestone and to predict that AirAsia Expedia would one day be as big as the airline.
Which of course puts pressure on Tan to deliver – but then she is no stranger to pressure. In fact, those who know her well says she responds best when she is challenged.
“In AirAsia, I dealt with crisis all the time. In that business, you need EQ, IQ and AQ (Airline) – and I learnt all I could about airlines when I came into the business. With Expedia, I need TQ – Technology Quotient – and I am learning all about technology and I am excited because they are so ahead in this curve.