Hi Inge, what does a Product Manager do?
I’m responsible for rolling out new Amadeus products in the Benelux market. That means testing and validating those products – taking into account certain market-specific aspects, naturally.
Are you, then, an IT-specialist?
Not really, no. I studied tourism and went on to work in a travel agency for 5 years. So I do have a solid background in the day-to-day operations of our clients. That regularly comes in handy, since central is more focused on the technical side.
After 13 years as a Product Manager with Amadeus Benelux, I have built up quite the network of travel agents. Each year we meet twice with a group of them to discuss our progress. We also run a lot of pilot programs with different agents. I coordinate those projects myself.
Where does your personal connection to the travel industry come from?
Overall, I have a very wide variety of interests; nature, art history, languages. Travel and tourism allowed me to explore all of those at once. It’s a perfect fit.
Naturally, I liked to travel, and before we had our kids, we did a lot of long journeys such as Vietnam, Africa, and South-America. My favourite trip? Costa Rica. I went there with 3 friends and our backpacks. The nature was just overwhelmingly beautiful. I’ve never seen such a starry sky. I felt so close to nature, so alive. A unique experience to be sure.
Nowadays we mainly stay inside Europe and go for a little bit more comfort, culture, and luxury. Never in large hotels, though.
Do you mainly work alone or in team?
Our team consists of 6 Product Managers and 1 Line Manager. We each have our portfolio of products, but they all influence each other, so we frequently work together as well.
Our sector changes so fast, we have to keep a close eye on the market to make sure our products still meet demand. My portfolio is mainly built up around airlines, ticketing, and ancillary services.
How do you keep up with all those changes?
I work behind a screen all day, so I try not to follow all the technological innovations too closely. I like to go out often to enjoy nature. Social media, for instance, is not for me. But global trends that touch on my work life? Of course, I follow those.
What trends are you most excited about?
Personalized travel – that’s what it’s all about today. Specifically for my portfolio? There’s a new way of communication with airlines coming up. The project was started by IATA and is now making its way to the airlines more concretely. The open and cloud based aspects of our platform prove that we engage in continuously offering relevant content to our travel agents.
What’s your next dream trip?
Oh, there are plenty of destinations I would still like to visit. Norway, New-Zealand, Tasmania,… Destinations with pure nature and not too much tourism. I don’t know if I’ll be able to convince my husband and my kids to join me in Tasmania though. (laughs)
Thank you, Inge. Who would you like to sit next to next time?
Next time, I would like to see Mélanie François, Solution Services Consultant, in this seat. She is a Spanish native and, of course, overflowing with energy!
Inge De Smet