Home Articles Graeme Wood, CEO, Wotif.com

Graeme Wood, CEO, Wotif.com


Graeme Wood revolutionised the travel industry when he created the concept for Wotif.com, which he co-founded in 2000, an online booking service that links accommodation providers with last-minute travellers. It’s fair to say that Wood’s idea was disruptive and far-reaching, spawning a raft of international wannabes and a global industry in the process. As the principal guest of Anthill’s first ‘Lunch with an entrepreneur’, held in association with event partner PricewaterhouseCoopers, Wood shared some salient points on his own entrepreneurial journey and how other entrepreneurs may learn from his experiences.

12:10:23 “We launched in March 2000. For those with medium-term memories, that was a bad time for dot-com companies. It was just after the peak of the bubble. So dot-com was pretty much a dirty word.”
12:12:30 “We created a marketplace where the supply side and the demand side could meet and transact.”
12:14:05 “Then the media cottoned onto it, or we cottoned onto the media, and that’s what really drove the business, getting publicity and word of mouth.”
12:14:48 “Word of mouth is pretty good because it’s free and it’s very powerful.”
12:18:21 “We stayed in business – that was the benchmark.”
12:23:48 “I trusted the people looking at the numbers to alert me if things weren’t going right. They were a pretty tight bunch. They didn’t spend money on anything if we didn’t really have to…. It probably only dawned on me about two and a half years into the process that we had developed something of some value.”
12:26:10 “We’ve got a stock option scheme so that all the key people have good reason to stay and grow the value of the business.”
12:26:34 “We looked after the employees. One of the key benefits of listing was to spread the ownership of the business among those people who are most likely to impact on its performance, and align their interests with the broader shareholding.”
12:28:40 How do you manage the rise of competition? “We don’t manage, we just try and beat ‘em up. There’s daylight between us and the next competitor in Australia. We do about as much as all our competitors combined, in terms of business… Competition’s good. It makes you work hard and think.”
12:49:00 “This is not the first business I’ve started. I’ve had probably half a dozen. In the past I tended to hang on to that operational stuff that makes you lose the entrepreneurial fl air. You become pretty boring.”
12:50:55 “In terms of risk management, I like to expose people to the chance of failure, but only little bits at a time.”
12:53:17 “The idea was right and the timing was right. It’s very easy to look like a genius with the right timing. That was part of the success story, but then it was just single-minded determination to see it through.”
12:55:40 “You don’t buy a business. You back a person or a team.”
12:57:20 “The numbers are numbers and they’ll happen or they won’t happen. The major thing for me is assessing the honesty of the person behind the thing.”
12:57:30 “If you’ve got people of strong moral caliber then you’re off on the right foot. They’re not going to dud you.”
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• Carlo Santoro, Managing Director, XICG.com
• Chris Ledden, Co-Founder, What House Pty Ltd
• Clarissa Mattingly, Different
• Dave Sag, Carbon Planet
• Domenic Carosa, CEO, Destra Limited
• Jeromy Evans, Blue Sky Minds Pty Ltd
• John Weichard, D2P
• Karl Scott, Gadens Lawyers
• Kim Wingerei, Founder/MD, MobileSelect Pty Ltd
• Kristina Karlsson, Founder, Kikki K
• Rhys Hughes, Xpand Group
• Robyn Lewis, Founder, Visit Vineyards Pty Ltd
• Ryan Trainor, Managing Director, Ninety Days
• Stewart Noble, CEO/Managing Director, 1300 Eat Out
On 4 July 2007, Anthill Magazine, in association with PricewaterhouseCoopers staged an intimate and exclusive (15 guests only) lunch with Graeme Wood, CEO of Wotif.com. Guests included a range of entrepreneurs and business owners, ranging from start-ups in their first year to veterans of the game, in addition to representatives from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Anthill Magazine. The lunch provided a relaxed environment for like-minded people to share ideas, learn from each other and network.
Tickets: $495
Capital city: Sydney
Guest entrepreneur: Domenic Carosa, CEO, Destra Limited
To register for our next ‘Lunch with an entrepreneur’,
email: lunch [at] australiananthill.com