e-Travel Blackboard spoke exclusively to roomsXML this week about 2012, their fifth consecutive year of growth . Given that three companies entered liquidation over the past few weeks, the focus is on all wholesalers and their current status.
Having said that, we didn’t expect Mark to be quite so open in his reflections.
Mark Luckey, MD Asia Pacific says “It is really sad when organisations wind up. Not only have those people lost their livelihood, seen their dreams dissolve…. but the impact on agents and the hit to industry confidence is massive.
“But … it’s the nature of business. New players are always challenging the status quo; existing organisations must adapt to new challenges and continually improve or fall by the wayside. We saw our opportunity and have worked our guts out to create what we have. It was very, very hard work for a long time, it continues to challenge us to grow and stay ahead. There’s some luck in there, but the harder you work, the luckier you get.
“So it’s with a mixture of pride and awkwardness that not only are we still growing, but our growth rate has accelerated over the past 12 months…I’m wary of being insensitive and I don’t want to be a smart arse when others in the industry are struggling. As before, many will recoup and rebound. That industry history and knowledge is still very valuable.”
roomsXML has increased the number of local and offshore staff and added new offices in Kiev and Libya. The company has increased the unique property count to 82,000 hotels, apartments, resorts, B&B’s and hostels whilst implementing agent driven technology features including “Agent Preferred”.
“We invested heavily early on in getting our systems and processes right; as we’ve grown, we have been able to scale up our operations with net effect of lowering our costs, keeping us competitive. We continually reinvest, aim to improve, get better, be available for our customers.
How about the current competitive landscape?
“We keep it positive; I cannot believe some of the things that our competitors have said to mutual clients, including making racist comments about our offshore staff members. I’m all for healthy competition, but seriously, identifying a competitor and talking them down is cheap …agents ring us now when one of the rep’s starts sprouting rubbish. It’s a bad look. Can you imagine working for a company like that? My staff know I would go nuts if we made bringing down a competitor a part of an attempt to grow sales.
“I’m not suggesting collusion, but like roomsXML, a lot of wholesalers are differentiating themselves now as “agent only” – not direct to public. But surely there’s room for some “positive spirit” in there that supports travel agents and the industry in the face of the B2C online challenge.
“I’m surrounded by a great, positive and enthusiastic team. Whether it’s Matt or Rosetta on the phone, Sasha and David on the road, or my offshore teams when I work with them in India or Europe. I love coming to work and some days, even they do.” (laughing)
How about TCF?
“There is a lot of positioning and discussion going on and I don’t think I can add much to that. Given that TCF does not apply to us (selling hotels and transfers only is exempt from TCF), there’s better people to ask. There seems to be a lot of confusion on where TCF sits and why – for example, Air Australia not covered by TCF – it covers if a travel agency goes broke, but not an airline. But you might be covered if the flights were sold as part of the package.
And how about roomsXML 2013?
“In most respects, it’s business as usual… Adding new wholesalers, improving every part of our operations, hiring a few more staff in Australia, spreading wings into new countries.
“I love coming to work every day, business is growing, it’s satisfying, the industry is definitely good fun and seriously, what more can you ask for?”
Source = roomsXML