Wotif chief marketer Michael Betteridge quits after leading department restructure

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 12.23.41 PMWotif marketing chief Michael Betteridge has left the company following its acquisition by Expedia and taken a new role with travel and leisure firm Amalgamated Holdings, Mumbrella can reveal.

Betteridge joined the online travel agency as marketing general manger for Wotif, Lastminute and in September 2013 after a four and half year spell with Virgin Australia.

He headed the agency’s marketing during a period of slow growth for the retailer as competition in the online travel space intensified.

Last year he appointed M&C Saatchi at Wotif’s creative agency and relaunched the brand under a campaign named Wotifia, a fictitious land featuring singing fart bubbles and dancing llamas.

Amanda Behre, Wotif’s head of partnerships and ad sales, has been appointed director of brand and marketing.

It is unclear at this stage whether Wotifia will be retained by the company. At its launch last August, Betteridge described Wotifia as a “bold and brave campaign” that was designed to breathe new life into the Wotif brand.

Betteridge told Mumbrella is was entirely his decision to leave after overseeing a shake-up of the marketing functions following the acquisition by US giant Expedia in November.

The restructure saw the remit of the role narrow with brand marketing separated out from digital and email marketing.

“Absolutely it was my decision to leave,” Betteridge said. “I spent the last four or five months migrating the Wotif group onto the Expedia platform and was part of the process of looking at what was the right shape and structure. I was in control of that.”

Under the newly defined marketing role, several functions that previously fell under his control moved to other departments, he explained,

“The role became more focused on the brand and customer, which was awesome, but there was some functions, such as CRM, email marketing and the partnership program which were switched to the digital department,” he said.

“I love to have a broad remit and while I would have had the ability to be involved in all those things I like the like cut and thrust of a broad remit. But I fully supported moving functions to other areas and it was consistent with the Expedia model.”

Betteridge said he regarded the change to his role as the ideal opportunity to move on and try something new.

“I like to know that I can stretch and grow but I came to the conclusion there was not much more stretching and growing I could do,” he said.

He stressed the Expedia deal was the right move for Wotif.

“Expedia will give it a boost and the potential for success in a competitive environment,” he said.

In his new role as director of product development, hotels and resorts at Amalgamated Holdings, Betteridge will oversee the firm’s hotel portfolio which includes Rydges, QT, Atura Hotels and Thredbo Village and Ski Fields.

The acquisition of Wotif has led to speculation that Expedia may consolidate its agencies. DDB holds the creative account for Expedia with M&C Saatchi carrying out the duties Wotif.

M&C Saatchi said it has not been notified of any creative review and will continue to work with the brand.

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