Written with Ian Van Hove (Program Manager Mobile, Amadeus ITGroup)
Mickey Creyf, CEO of BTS Travel, a leading business travel agency in Belgium, tells us more about their mobile application, “George” – which recently won the Belgian Travel Industry Innovation Award 2012.
The technology behind the application is Amadeus m-Power, a white label solution created by Sound of Data and Amadeus. It allows travel agencies to offer travellers pre-, during- and post-trip functionalities and services via their mobile phone.
Mickey, tell us more about BTS Travel?
BTS Travel is one of the fastest growing business travel agencies in Belgium. The secret of our success lies in our constant search for efficiency and productivity improvements through our staff, our technological solutions and innovations.
For example, in 2007, we rolled out the Travel Experts programme which employs personal travel advisors working from home. Today, we have over 40 independent travel advisors that operate throughout Belgium, serving the needs of our business travellers.
What does George do today?
George allows travellers to search, book and pay for flights, get automatic real-time flight notifications by SMS and check-in. At destination, clients can contact us through the app if they have a problem. They can also receive personalised promotions and share their travel experience through social media.
The latest functionality developed by Amadeus and Sound of Data is a hotel booking tool which will make George even more powerful.
Why did you decide to partner with Amadeus on this project?
Recognising the potential for mobile travel technology, BTS Travel needed to develop a strategy to enter the marketplace. After several discussions with Amadeus, Sound of Data and other satisfied m-Power customers, we felt confident that Amadeus and Sound of Data understood our needs and could deliver a solution that responded to our travellers’ requirement
How long did it take to launch “George” and what process did you go through?
The implementation and setup was handled locally by BTS Travel, Amadeus Benelux and Sound of Data. From my decision to implement m-Power, organising the technical set-up, branding the app and making George available in the App Store took just 8 weeks!
After an initial launch, we now plan to roll out George on a massive scale, leveraging the publicity from the award to make a big announcement to customers and market George through our online channel. We may even go one step further and rent a zeppelin withthe George logo on it!
We will adopt a multi-channel approach to promote George. Firstly, our existing customers will see a link to the app on their itineraries and we will add the app link to our website and across all marketing communications. It has also been agreed with Amadeus that we will do some joint marketing activities towards the travel community. Last but not least, each confirmed booking will come with a text message containing a link to the traveller’s itinerary and to the App Store.
How does George help BTS Travel differentiate itself in the market?
First of all, this innovation award is very important for the image of BTS Travel. We are the first company in Belgium to launch such an application, making the cross-platform service we offer unique. I am sure that our clients will be a very positive reference point for George as they already appreciate the added value this service brings them.
Take the example of a client who was away with his wife for a city trip. He got a message that his flight was cancelled and was immediately offered an alternative, even before entering the airport. That’s the sort of positive service likely to be shared on social media channels that will help promote George!
Which added value does George bring to your customers?
George is able to bring travel agents and their customers together for the duration of the trip, ensuring a two-way communication that was never possible before. Whether to assist with a re-schedule or propose a real-time, contextualised and personalised destination service, George has become the perfect travel companion.