Knodt steps down from Vacation.com's top spot

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Dick Knodt left the top post at Vacation.com this week after eight years with the operation, most of the last five as CEO.

Steve Tracas, most recently president of Orbitz for Business, will succeed Knodt, effective April 17, while Knodt stays on as a consultant through June.

Knodt told TravelWeekly.com that he and Vacation.com owner Amadeus had been planning his departure for some time, but he had stayed on until Amadeus could identify the right person to take over. He said Tracas comes with a strong marketing and technology background, ... and technology is not my strong suit.

Looking back, Knodt -- who comes from the retail travel business and twice served as ASTAs top executive -- said his tenure at Vacation.com had been the most interesting and fun thing Ive ever done, ... [but] the era of day-to-day operations are over for me.

Knodt called the timing of his departure absolutely good, and I will do all I can to help Amadeus and Vacation.com. He also did not rule out some other, later involvement with Vacation.com.

By way of background, Knodt and Tony McKinnon (former Amadeus CEO and current chairman of Online Vacation Center) founded Travel Associates Network (TAN) in 1998. They began buying up consortia with an eye on strength in numbers.

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

In 1999, TAN bought Vacation.com, Knodt said, for the technology, the name and a faster-paced growth.

It was not much more than year later that Amadeus bought Vacation.com.

Looking ahead, Knodt said that if Amadeus owners decide to sell Vacation.com -- and if that happens, he believes it wont happen too soon -- he would be interested in working with an investor group to buy the business, but not in running it.

Meanwhile, Knodt is co-owner with cousin Howie Knodt of Special Interest Cruises in Chula Vista, Calif., which originated as a Knodt family business. He also is a shareholder in Online Vacation Center, based in Plantation, Fla.

However, Knodt has not determined what his next career move will be except he knows it will 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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