A Marketing Chief Who Thinks Like an Entrepreneur

Glueck: 'I Come to Every Marketing Decision Imbued With a Sense That Every Dollar Counts'

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Jeff Glueck joined Travelocity in January 2004 after founding discount travel site Site59.com, where he served as chief strategic officer and VP-business and product development. At Travelocity, he oversaw the development of the company's new site, logo and campaign featuring the Roaming Gnome, all of which launched in 2004.
Jeff Glueck: I'm not a classically trained marketer.'
Jeff Glueck: I'm not a classically trained marketer.'
With those pieces in place, the company saw eight consecutive quarters of 25% revenue growth. He started his career as a strategy consultant for the Monitor Company in Boston and has led marketing initiatives for Fortune 100 companies in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Advertising Age: What aspects of your previous career experience best prepared you for your role as chief marketing officer of Travelocity?

Jeff Glueck: Being a co-founder at an internet start-up -- Site59.com -- best prepared me for my current job. I come to every marketing decision imbued with a sense that every dollar counts. We were a start-up where our ability to make payroll depended on conversion, getting the word out, being unique. It was a very entrepreneurial, very "get it done," very practical environment. That entrepreneurial spirit was what we brought to the revitalization of Travelocity. I'm not a classically trained marketer. Being CMO of Travelocity is actually the first marketing job I've ever had, although I did write marketing plans as a strategy consultant for all sorts of companies. I have no classical marketing training, but in the end I think that brand strategy is just the other side of the coin of company strategy. Initially, Michelle Peluso, the CEO of Travelocity, and I looked for other people to be the CMO of Travelocity. We had a hard time finding people who understood the culture, the internet and who had broad leadership capabilities as opposed to very specific advertising training. And ultimately the CEO turned to me and asked, "Why don't you do this job?"

Ad Age: What makes for good marketing?

Mr. Glueck: I believe in inside-out marketing. A good marketer doesn't go invent an advertising slogan and push it out toward the market. They have to start with the DNA of the company and crystallize that. ... The brand is the sum of all the interactions the consumer has with your company. So when we rolled out the new campaign, it had to be authentic, or it wouldn't have had staying power.

Ad Age: What is your leadership style?

Mr. Glueck: I am an integrator. I take pride in working with super-creative people one hour and then the next hour working with data heads and the next hour working with technology groups and product managers to check on the status of tech projects. So you need to be able to inspire, be creative, be analytical and be a leader all in one day.

Ad Age: How are you finding good talent to bring onboard?

Mr. Glueck: We put a lot of time into finding the right people, and we just believe in waiting to find the right people rather than jumping to fill a position in a rush. One of the things we have as an advantage is we have offices in Dallas, San Francisco and New York so that we can recruit in various regions of the country and offer a lot of choices for people.

Ad Age: What can CMOs do to lengthen their tenure?

Mr. Glueck: I think CMOs need to put themselves in the shoes of the CEO every day. At Travelocity we have a very tightly knit team. I'm constantly aware of what's on the CEO's mind and understand her challenges. It's that kind of partnership that leads to tenure.

It's also about taking risks. We took a risk to try to change the industry with our customer-service guarantee and the Travelocity Roaming Gnome as a way to shift the focus to brand personality from just price competition. There were a lot of skeptics. But then you earn the trust of the organization when a few gambles work. And that credibility gives you some capital.
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