Robert Turner is the managing director of HotelsPro, a technology and reservation solutions provider, and division of the MetGlobal group of companies.Turner joined HotelsPro in 2016, for the management of all HotelsPro operations in the European region including sales, customer support and contracting.
How have the first eight months of 2017 been for you?
Overall, the year so far has gone well. Our growth rate has accelerated from 2016, as our new platforms continue to reach a more optimised steady state. Having said that, the summer season was a touch sluggish, although signs of Autumn are beginning to look very good.
What regions are you focusing on right now?
We try to focus on all regions of course. APAC remains an incredibly exciting opportunity for both sourcing and distribution and there’s much work for us to do there. Also, our new offices in Cancun, Mexico, and Barcelona, Spain have generated real momentum and positive return on investment. However, we are mindful to continue focusing on our core European, Middle East and American markets.
Away from developing geographical markets, where do you see the industry going in the future?
Despite the travel sector is among the largest of all industries in terms of online presence & search, the sector is huge and diverse, and therefore plenty of new opportunities remain by continuing to focus on our technology products in order to address this demand. Mobile, in particular, is developing rapidly as a booking platform, whereas for some time it remained predominantly a research platform. The industry has some challenges to overcome because fresh, relevant data is critical,. But so is the handling of vast search volumes. Finding the correct solution to that dilemma is, therefore, a major focus for many companies.
How would you forecast the next 12 months in the global travel market?
The global travel market has always been deeply exposed to economic and geopolitical instability, and that’s not going to change. However, right now there are good signs for the global economy. Travelers for an ever greater number of locations wish to use their leisure time exploring, so in global terms, the next 12 months look positive.
Travel agents managed to survive the internet evolution because they were transformed to travel consultants offering personalized services. However, new technologies are also able to offer personalized services today. What should be the next step for the travel agents?
Yes, there is an increasing number of tech-based personalized services. But at its heart, our industry is a fundamentally human one, and there will always be room for agents offering outstanding service on a face to face or direct contact basis.
How much you expect big data to change a strategic decision, operation, services and at the end the customer experience?
The amount of data now available to companies is astounding but also bewildering. The challenge is now less how can that data be obtained, although this remains an obstacle for many businesses, more what is the correct questions to ask of the data and how may that be used best to improve service and solutions. Big data will deeply benefit the businesses who successfully answer those questions, but it may also hinder those that hunt around in the data without knowing what to do with it, or who interpret it incorrectly.
How do you see the company changing in two years?
Our strategy essentially involves continuing to progress our technical excellence, but also combine that with a measured regionalization. In many markets, we still have little local presence and that holds us back in terms of access to hotel product and in terms of understanding and tailoring our service according to local needs. We need to present our business to our clients on a local basis, and obtain a local product, so that along with our great tech solutions, we have an even more compelling offering for a greater number of clients.
What do you serve to your customers differently?
An extraordinarily large product range sourced from the best in the business, in every part of the world. It’s nice to be able to say that with such surety.
What are your goals?
I’d like to focus on creating a more unified team effort in our business. We are lucky to have a lot of exceptional talent within our company. But as a business grows, it can become fragmented and sometimes a little introverted in focus. Particularly with our regional strategy in mind, communicating superbly to create a great team spirit that’s all totally focussed towards the pursuit of serving our clients is my number 1 goal.