2017 is a very important year here at dcs plus because we celebrate no less than 15 years of activity. It goes without saying that we are extremely happy and proud to have reached this point, but we also know that in a permanently changing environment one must keep up the pace with what is happening on the market (and the technology sector above all) and always find the means to attract and maintain trustworthy partners.
We have always invested time and effort into building up strong relations with our partners, that’s why in this celebratory year we decided to conduct a series of interviews with some of them, trying to find out how they see their collaboration with dcs plus.
Today, we’ve had the pleasure to discuss with Ms. Kathy Hodges, Regional Strategic Partnerships & Alliances Manager at Travelport, one of the most important travel commerce platforms in the world focused on providing distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the travel and tourism industry.
You’ve been with Travelport for 6 years. How does a typical day at the office look like for you, Kathy?
I am lucky, I would say. There are no two-days that are the same. There is no such thing as a typical day for me. I am travelling to meet the partners one day, the next I could be in conference calls or presenting on WebEx, another day of the week could be about collaborating to my local offices because it’s key to understand their pain points and where they need support, in order to be successful. My Regional role is a little bit different from an ‘in -country’ commercial role - where I coordinate the required activities from multiple departments for example marketing, legal, finance, product, partners and bring it all that together.
What do you think about dcs plus and our ongoing collaboration?
It’s true that I have been with Travelport for six years, but I only became aware of dcs plus when I joined the East European team as my focus, which was about 2 ½ years ago. But in all honesty, it was clear from the offset that here at Travelport we had a requirement for the region - for a high quality back-office solution that seamlessly integrates into our technology and dcs plus was recommended to me by the local market country manager and her team.
So, when I met with dcs plus’ Cristian & Andrei - I could see why. For us TINA offers a rich content and robust application and it was successfully deployed to more than 25 countries or markets, at that time. I think dcs plus is an innovative company, has a solid portfolio with Global reach and that you are very professional - we are delighted to be in partnership with you.
Thank you so much for your kind words, the feeling is mutual. In your opinion, is there something that recommends us, something special that makes us stand out from the crowd?
To be honest is the quality of your solutions. Not just TINA, but the other solutions as well. You fill a market requirement for us and our customers. The Synchronization and Integration is now completed for Galileo and we are in ‘testing phase’ for Worldspan right now. What we look for in business partners, are partners that are going to develop to and utilize our latest API technologies, incorporate key deliverables for example our Rich Content and Branding, Digital technology etc...and embrace the many new technologies on our roadmaps.
Obviously, technology is very important for Travelport, so we would like to know which are the most important criteria for selecting your business partners?
It’s a number of things. The first would be using our latest API technology and incorporating our Search capabilities, Rich Content and Branding, Digital and Mobile offerings etc... but what’s really important is that our business partners are working together with us in a strong partnership, so that we can offer a seamless experience to the users, to help grow their businesses and drive new revenue streams for them.
We equally look for a similar mindset to ourselves, excellence in the solutions and companies that can continuingly invest, support and evolve their own solutions.
We look at companies that have global reach, or regional reach and by that I mean Europe, Middle East and Africa or Asia-Pacific for example but it’s not compulsory to be global, it’s more about being excellent in the areas that you focus on.
Which are the main challenges you happen to face when working with tech providers?
It depends on the provider because we have many different partners. For example - some larger tech providers that are multi GDS, are slower to respond to market requirements because they’re sharing time amongst the different providers. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get them focused and the resource allocated – and that can affect the speed to market, the speed to embracing new technology and delivery of solutions to the market. There are some smaller tech providers that are more agile and focused.
We know that for the 9th consecutive year, Travelport won the “Best GDS in the Middle East” award in the Travel Trade Gazette and we would like to know what does it mean for Travelport to receive this award once more?
It’s a huge privilege obviously, to win any award, but I think it’s extraordinary and an honor to win it for 9 consecutive years. I really put that down to our technology, the passion of our internal teams that work really hard and are very dedicated in delivering the value of our technology to our customers.
Could you tell us something about Travelport that we don’t know already?
You are looking for some secrets? (laughs). Let me see what you would not ordinarily know …. In 2016 alone, we had more than 1.800 developers, individual developers, who utilized our Travelport Universal API, on which they have created their own applications and taken advantage of our technologies and content.
In March this year we launched our ‘Power of the Platform’ campaign and through social media we have more than 65.000 followers from the first launch and single page views were 14.000. What this says to us is that we are ‘talking’ the right sort of language and making the right technology investments for our customers, therefore people are interested. This reflects in the adoption of our technology, customer acquisitions and customer retention.
From your perspective, how do you see the travel industry in the next 5 years? Because things are changing so fast and technology is constantly evolving.
We live in a digital world, therefore we need to be ready and planning to satisfy that. We are looking already at 2020 goals and where we need to be, because we need to be mobilized to deliver the technology advances.
So, we’ve made investments into several companies from technology, to mobile, to payment solutions. We no longer look at ourselves as a global distribution system, we are a travel e-commerce platform that empowers traveling experiences.
Do you happen to have any recommendation for us? Maybe a certain area that you think we need to focus more on?
My first inclination would be to focus on Travelport first, but then I would be bound to say that! But I would say in all sincerity more speed to market and a greater collaboration with us because I’ve seen working with our other partners when the intention, focus and the relationship is strong the collaboration is strong, and therefore you deliver robust and high-quality solutions together.