Cheapflights names Virgin Holiday’s Shelton as first global marketing chief

Cheapflights has named Virgin Holidays marketing head Andrew Shelton its first global marketing director as the travel price comparison site looks to turbocharge its international growth plans following an £80m cash boost.

Cheapflights-Logo-2014

Shelton’s immediate focus will be managing the launch marketing for several country-specific websites as well as drumming up interest for its new flight search app.

His other responsibilities include offline and online marketing, search engine optimisation, social media and PR for the brand globally. In the long-term, the priority will be identifying ways to boost engagement via mobile devices, a channel the company believes can be used to recruit new audiences.

Two in five visits to the site are from mobile devices, which the company has said is growing at a rate of 40% annually. It is hoping a stronger mix of mobile marketing and online optimisation can help it achieve its target of being the number one travel search brand in every market it operates in.

The appointment follows an $80m cash injection into the business from US private equity fund Great Hill Partners. The investment frees Cheapflights owner Momondo to quicken its expansion plans, a strategy it said was dependent on filling the global marketing director role it created in April.

Cheapflights commercial director Mo Bulbrook says Shelton’s arrival is a “statement of intent” that will underpin plans to roll out the Cheapflights product portfolio of travel sites and flight apps in English-speaking markets around the world.

“We are investing for growth – and marketing has a key role to play. We have developed leading-edge flight search services that save people time and money, and we already have a community of over 100 million users across the globe; now we want to get the word out to a broader audience,” adds Bulbrook.

Additions to the marketing team and an increase to the marketing budget are also incoming to support the brand’s biggest campaign. It will run in markets including the US, UK, Canada and Australia, where the business believes it can grow share amid pressure from rivals such as SkyScannner.

Cheapflights’ slice of the UK market is also set to be challenged by Ryanair, which is turning its site into a one-stop-shop for travel so that visitors do not leave to rate prices on other sites.

Prior to joining Cheapflights, Shelton was group marketing director at Virgin Holidays for eight years. He joined from British Airways where he was head of leisure and digital marketing.

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