Nampa High School graduate Brett Keller, class of 1986, began working for online booking service Priceline in 1999, serving as Chief Marketing Officer and later Chief Operating Officer.
Last month, he was promoted to Interim Chief Executive Officer.
“It’s really a story about moving up through a company,” Keller said.
Keller left Nampa and Idaho following high school graduation, but said Nampa High School, particularly calculus teacher Dean Hayashida, played a significant role in his development.
“He was so exceptionally organized, and I took a lot from him,” Keller said of Hayashida. “Those math skills have helped me become proficient in marketing and eventually in my position as CEO.”
An active student, he played on Nampa High’s basketball team his whole high school career.
After graduation, Keller said his initial plan was to go into engineering. Instead, he did degrees in business and Japanese at Brigham Young University.
Before joining Priceline, Keller started work at Cendant, a real estate and travel company.
“That’s where I learned about the business,” Keller said. “There I worked with a guy who left to work with the founder of Priceline. He called me and asked me to join him.”
Eventually, he advanced through the ranks to his current position filling in as CEO.
Keller said the job is a good fit — he knows the business model well after 17 years. He said one of the biggest challenges his company is tackling is the shift to mobile.
“It’s a shift in behavior, it’s often very last minute, like in the car,” Keller said. “Each year people are booking more and more last minute. Our functionality allows customers to book a hotel at 1 a.m. and walk across the street and check in.”
Despite raising his family outside of Idaho, Keller still has strong ties to the area.
He said he is an avid fly fisherman and has spent a lot of time in McCall and the Treasure Valley.
Now, he said he comes back to Idaho at least once every year and that his wife and children spend two months out of the year in Idaho. Keller said he owns a place in McCall to go skiing and use the lake.
“Growing up in Idaho was very different than my kids growing up in Connecticut,” Keller said. “I worked on a farm and in a grocery store. I learned to have a balanced life.”