Some 10 minutes into our conversation, we realise we have been talking about change all the time. How our playing field is changing, how Marco’s work at Amadeus has seen a major shift, and how, he, when travelling, looks for a definite change from familiar sights.
This must be the world of travel.
A cheetah up a tree – where did you take that wonderful photo?
Ah, that’s South Africa in 2010, probably the most beautiful country in the world. Nature there is simply breathtaking, and my wife and I love safari. There’s really no place like it. You can travel 200 km and see 7 different biotopes. Add the people, who are so very relaxed, and the wines – and you’ve got a winning combination.
Since my wife and I have very busy lives , we really need to disconnect and unwind. So we do want comfort. We don’t sleep in tents; and we don’t go for standard packages. We both do appreciate some luxury when we’re abroad.
Doesn’t that make you, wait, a ‘Reward Hunter’ in our traveller tribes?
(laughs) It does, sort of. I did take the Amadeus traveller tribe test, of course, but it seems I’m a difficult customer. I’m a bit of everything, so a travel agency would have a hard time servicing me. That’s a bit unfair, though. My wife is a travel consultant, and we do all the research ourselves. Not because we think we can do it better, but because we like it so much, looking for those places that are off the beaten track.
What different places has your travel career taken you to?
I’ve got a background in airlines. I was a Key Account Manager at United Airlines for 8 years. Then I got an opportunity to start at Amadeus, who had a solid reputation. I can only sell what I really believe in, so I was open to making that switch. Moreover, it was working on the IT side of travel that appealed to me.
What does make travel IT interesting for you?
Let’s say the world of travel tends to be conservative, and tends to change rather slow. Then again, people in general don’t really like change, do they? Why would you tinker with something that works? Now take the world of IT: it does nothing else but thinking ahead, anticipating and changing. That’s an interesting dynamic.
Some things can’t be stopped – even in travel. Just look at the rise of Uber and Airbnb. Travel IT enables us to be ready for the future. We can’t afford to be late.
Could you give a typical Amadeus example?
Sure. Take Ticket Changer. A great succes after more than 4 years. But at the time, a lot of people saw this as a threat, as something that would make them redundant. A computer can help you deal with increasing speeds, with complex processes to help you avoid mistakes, you know. But you always need human knowledge and insight into the process: they’re complementary. Only, our knowledge has to keep connecting with technology, because you can’t stop progress. We can’t stop our world from wanting to go faster, work more efficient, finding new ways.
How has that shift affected your role as Key Account Manager?
Classic account management has become consultative selling. Where it used to be about maintaining a relationship in general, I have to think along with a company now to come up with very specific answers. This requires me to keep up with a lot of different aspects of travel IT. Plus: a lot more people sit around the table now, from different levels. It’s a whole different ballgame.
How do you handle all those different aspects?
First: listening is key. We should not think about Amadeus solutions too much in the beginning. (smiles) Before we can even start talking about those, we need to gather as much information as we can, and really try to define what it is a company needs exactly, what its true challenges are.
Very often this involves an assessment, in close cooperation. Only then we can come up with the matching answer. It’s nearly always custom work.
And in the final stage, implementation of the new product or service is crucial for success. It requires in-depth knowledge of the company we work with. Even more so, this only works if all parties at the table trust each other and are confident things will improve. Change management is essential too. Guiding the change within an organisation to make the new service work as it was meant to – we do that as well.
Time for a change here, who’s in this seat next time?
Michael Franken at Solutions is involved in a lot of assessment and change projects within Leisure. We don’t cooperate that much, so I’d like to hear his take on things.
Care to link up?Find Marco Kremer on LinkedIn here.
Key Account Manager