In a David & Goliath world, eyeballs and clicks matter most

shutterstock_467080064Editor’s Note: Amadeus customer Mango Tours is a full-service travel agency owned and operated by Travelfast International, a major travel consolidator established in 1978. Across 16 locations, Mango Tours offers low-priced airfares, travel packages and other travel-related services between the US and Philippines.

For nearly four decades, our company has grown exponentially with one of the world’s fastest growing air travel sectors, the USA-Philippines O&D. From a competitive standpoint, many wholesalers still rely on small, home-based agents to carry their volumes. Not us. Mango Tours has 16 professionally staffed, strategically located offices in densely populated American-Filipino communities. Our website and 24/7 toll-free line are also key to our success.

Still, we fully understand the ever-changing dynamics of travel. The undeniable “elephant in the room” is online presence. Price will always drive how successful you can be in this business, yet we’ve also noticed that the customer experience is playing a much larger role. Here are five “core principles” that support our company’s growth strategy.

  1. Choose the right technology partner.

Having Amadeus as our travel technology partner has enabled us to achieve the online presence we enjoy today. We’ve used Amadeus Web Services for ten years, yet it wasn’t until we recently visited the Amadeus Research & Development Center in Boston that I truly came to understand the value. Together, we conducted a thorough website analysis and reviewed best practices. We quickly identified and implemented a dozen or so simple fixes that immediately improved how our air results were being displayed. We are busy working on the release of MangoTours.com v3.0. and can’t wait to launch several new enhancements. We have curated our site to be simple, practical and easy to use. Working with Amadeus continues to be the right choice for our continued success.

  1. Listen to – and apply – sound wisdom.

We recently read Amadeus’ research report about the future of travel. The report says, “Providers who control the last mile will capture the greatest share of value.” We agree 100 percent. This is the reason why major consolidators are selling their air contracts to OTAs, or are even becoming OTAs. They want to control the last mile. I feel confident that Mango Tours does own the customer relationship. The airlines may fly the customers, but we own the buying and decision-making process. I agree with the report’s “Salvador Dali” model of global integration, innovation and collaboration. Governments and businesses are already following this model, and open source information sharing remains vital to everyone’s success and survival.

  1. Tomorrow’s success depends on today’s innovations.

Innovation and technology means everything to our company; it helps us navigate day-to-day operations and plan for the future. We constantly feel the pressure to evolve technologically – otherwise we face becoming extinct. The future of distribution continues to shape the way we look down the road. Sooner rather than later, having the lowest fares online will not be enough. It’s all about how many different eyeballs and clicks we can put our fares in front of. The future of distribution is key.

  1. Never lose sight of the customer.

Our CEO Johnny Francisco’s philosophy is, “Customers first.” As much as innovation and evolution are important, we must stay focused on our customers. What good is it to change your business strategy if your customers don’t reap any of the benefits? From Facebook to Yelp to our website, we use many vehicles to listen and collect feedback. Our front-line customer liaisons are the “pulse” of our business and help us improve daily operations.

A current project we are working on is database segmentation – to transform the customer experience through business intelligence, data modeling, automation and design. In the end, our goal is to predict customer needs, recognize and react to their changing expectations, and use data-driven insights to improve their journeys and enhance our own business processes.

Our data shows that thousands of customers await our attention via the online space – and we will never turn our backs on them. Yet it’s also important to stay focused on customers directly in front of us. New customers are great, but those who regularly buy from us deserve the very best customer experience.

  1. Stay optimistic about the future and think big!

The reality is, we cannot match the big OTAs in terms of online reach and advertising spend. This doesn’t mean we won’t stop forging ahead to increase our market share. We may be small, but we also aim to be the best at what we do. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? In today’s David & Goliath world, we relish the challenge!

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