Knodt steps down as V.coms CEO

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Dick Knodt, an industry veteran who twice served as ASTAs top executive, left the top post at Vacation.com last week after eight years with the operation, most of the last five as CEO.

He will be succeeded by Steve Tracas, most recently president of Orbitz for Business, effective April 17. Knodt will stay on as a consultant through June.

Knodt said that he and Amadeus, parent of Vacation.com, had been planning his departure for some time, but that he stayed on until Amadeus could identify the right person to take over.

Knodt said Tracas comes with a strong marketing and technology background, and that technology is not my strong suit.

Tracas, in sales and marketing roles at US Airways, American Airlines and Sabre gained experience that brought him in close association with the retail travel agent industry, said Debbie Iannaci, Amadeus manager of public relations.

Tracas background, which also includes e-commerce and technology, is a key asset in implementing strategies to take Vacation.com forward, she added.

Looking back, Knodt, who comes from the retail travel business, said his tenure at Vacation.com had been the most interesting and fun thing Ive ever done.

He added: The era of day-to-day operations are over for me.

Knodt called the timing of his departure absolutely good and said he would do all I can to help Amadeus and Vacation.com.

He did not rule out further involvement with Vacation.com at some later date.

Knodt and Tony McKinnon (chairman of Online Vacation Center and former Amadeus CEO) founded Travel Associates Network (TAN) in 1998 and began buying up consortia, aiming to achieve strength in numbers.

Around the same time, Andrew McKee, a Boston-based entrepreneur, created Vacation.com and began buying up consortia with a similar goal in mind but with the added ingredient of technology for members.

In 1999, TAN bought Vacation.com, saying the attraction was Vacation.coms technology, name and the promise of a faster growth rate. A little more than year later, Amadeus bought Vacation.com.

Looking ahead, Knodt said that if Amadeus new owners, which acquired the company in 2005, decide to sell Vacation.com, he would be interested in working with an investor group to buy the business, but not in running it.

Knodt said he did not expect Vacation.com to be spun off anytime soon, and an Amadeus spokeswoman said that Vacation.com will continue to be an important part of the Amadeus portfolio.

Meanwhile, Knodt co-owns Special Interest Cruises with his cousin, Howie Knodt. The agency, based in Chula Vista, Calif., is a longtime family business. He is also a shareholder in Online Vacation Center, based in Plantation, Fla.

Knodt said last week he had not determined his next career move but said it would be in the travel business in one way or another.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Nadine Godwin at [email protected].

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