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Autor: Helmut Pilz

Interview with Matt Lambert, Amber Road Travel

Amber Road is, in the best sense, an unusual name for a corporate travel agency. In this interview, Enterprise Director Matt Lambert explains what’s behind the rebranding of this renowned agency.

Matt, I think Amber Road’s new corporate identity is very well done. What was the motivation behind this name change?

Amber Road was an acknowledgment of the modern contemporary travel partnership company that we have created over the last 3 years. It was also a nod to the 35 years heritage of CTI. In a crowded market place full of three letter acronyms, Amber Road sets us apart as the travel partner of choice for the next generation of business traveller, through brand association and our partnership approach.

Did the change of owners play a role in that?

In July 2017 Private Equity firm Endless became the majority shareholder of Amber Road. With their investment in technology and our people we are realising our vision to put the heart and soul back into business travel, creating inspired, positive and rewarding experiences. Endless recognised that to stand out from competition and reflect the investment the rebrand was important and were fully supportive of this.

What exactly is behind the name Amber Road?

The Amber Road was an ancient trade route for the transfer of amber from coastal areas of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. As an important commodity, sometimes dubbed „the gold of the north“, amber was transported from the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts overland by way of the Vistula and Dnieper rivers to Italy, Greece, the Black Sea, Syria and Egypt over a period of thousands of years.

Amber Road has historic travel connotations, but equally today, modern trading still travels along various Amber Roads across the globe. Whilst the name has a great heritage, it exudes quality, passion, belief and it has entrepreneurial spirit all of which is what we are striving to achieve.

Infrastructure also includes your travel technology. Why did you choose Umbrella Faces?

Automatisation and seamless technology are essential for us. Our investors aim for growth and so all software must be flexible and scalable.

Profile data is the foundation of delivering exceptional customer service to our clients. It holds the entire configuration of travel technology together. Umbrella was first recommended to us by several of our partners like Travelport, Evolvi, Atriis and eGlobalfares.

It is simply hands-down the best profile system on the market and future-proof technology.

You then used Umbrella for a complete GDS migration!

That was a great opportunity. With Umbrella, GDS migration is extremely fast and easy to do.

The greater effort is then to clean up all the content of the data. That is a lot of work but it is absolutely worth it.

Do you have one suggestion/good idea for Umbrella that you want to share here?

The user interface of client-facing parts of Umbrella could benefit from an upgrade. And we would like to attach pictures of visas and passports to profiles.

Matt Lambert outside of work: Where do you live and what do you particularly like about this place?

I live in a small town named Brough in East Yorkshire. It’s about 8 miles from Hull, the UK’s City of Culture in 2017. This put Hull on the map for visitors and artists and we keep seeing great events here.

What was your most remarkable travel experience?

That was my first long haul trip, where I joined a group of clients on a trip to Los Angeles. We were treated like royalty everywhere and it was truly remarkable. I remember the Santa Monica Boathouse and the Halloween decorations all over the city.   

Football: Manchester City or Manchester United?

As a Hull City fan, I have had the privilege to watch them at the Etihad.  Manchester football is like politics, a subject I avoid!  It is one of the things, however, that makes Manchester a great place to have our Head Office and of course brings travellers to the city for both business and pleasure, or a combination of both if you manage to take in a match.

Interview with Magnatech

Our conversation with Paul Gioia (CEO) and Scott Millar (Director, Sales & Strategic Partnerships) revealed a great deal about the awesome TravelTech company from Montreal.

Magnatech is mostly known for its unused tickets solution. The topic is widespread in North America, but almost unknown in Europe. Why is that?

Unused tickets usually have value in both Europe and North America. In Europe, there is the possibility of a ticket refund – so the traveller receives a refund. Whereas in the US and Canada, a credit is issued for the value of the ticket minus a “penalty” when purchasing a new ticket.

Paul Gioia

With our “Ontrackplus” solution, TMCs and corporates can manage and keep track of these unused tickets ensuring they are used before expiration.

How do you achieve that exactly?

We track all of our customers’ booked tickets by scanning the corresponding GDS queues several times a day.

If a profile tool like Umbrella is used, then all unused tickets will be attached to the corresponding profile. In the case of an OBE booking, the booker will automatically be informed in the event that an appropriate balance is available.

How do you deal with non-GDS bookings?

If a corresponding ghost segment exists, we can also record, manage and report non-GDS bookings.

Scott Millar

Do you see business opportunities for Ontrackplus in Europe as well?

With our technology, the often-complicated refund process in Europe can be completely automated. This is something we are pursuing with interested parties.

What other products do you offer at Magnatech?

In addition to our flagship product for unused tickets, we also offer solutions in the following areas:

  • Duty of Care
  • Quality Control
  • Itinerary Delivery
  • Compliance Control
  • Pre-Trip Approval

Which customers are you primarily addressing with your solutions?

Magnatech is of interest to anyone using a GDS or a direct connect solution whose booking data we can read at any time.

We now work with over 30 of the 50 largest corporate travel agencies in the US and Canada.

Tell us about the company history and your participation.

Magnatech was founded in 1990. Paul joined in 2002 and Scott followed 3 years later. In 2016, we jointly acquired the company as part of a corporate restructuring. Paul is the President & CEO as well as majority shareholder.

Currently Magnatech employs 14 dynamic individuals and make up a wonderful multicultural team, which is typical of Montreal’s fast-growing software industry.

Like almost everyone in this industry, you enjoy travel. Which travel experiences have left the biggest impression on you so far?

Scott: It was actually a business trip, on the way back from Atlanta. An ice storm had paralysed all air traffic. For some reason, my flight was the very last one to be cancelled, and I didn’t realise until it was too late. As a result, I was literally the only passenger in that huge airport.

Paul: My family and I recently visited Portugal and became instant fans of the country.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Portugal, its food, its culture and its welcoming people. Albufeira is definitely one of my favourite destinations.

Thank you for the wonderful interview and your hospitality!



Interview mit Nicole Wilcock, Radius Travel

Umbrella is proud to announce its profile management partnership with Radius Travel, probably the best-known global mega-network in travel management.

In this interview, Nicole Wilcock, Senior Director of Global Service Delivery, tells us why the concept of a network of local TMC champions is so successful. Plus, she fills us in on her exciting journey via Royal Air Force plane to her husband’s most unusual birthplace.

 

What is Radius’ motivation and objective of partnering with Umbrella?

Umbrella is certainly the market leading solution for profiles. Your technical and functional approach is better and more mature than other solutions, which will be of great help for our multinational customers and local partners.

The other aspect is, of course, Umbrella’s expertise in many different global markets.

 

Radius has an impressive history and track record. But how big is Radius really? Can you share facts & figures?

Of course. Radius is currently active with 123 global agencies in 72 markets on 6 continents. Together, these partners have over 37,000 employees and over $30 billion in revenue.

 

When, why and by whom was Radius founded?

More than 40 years ago, several American TMCs joined together to develop a joint hotel programme named the Woodside Travel Trust (WTT). For 20 years, it developed very successfully and is still a core element of our services. We took the next step forward in the mid-90s when we re-branded as RADIUS (which became Radius Travel in 2013) and began to service multinational clients.

We are very proud that many customers and partner agencies have been with us since that time.

 

What is Radius’ USP for corporations?

Radius speaks to customers that appreciate both local and highly personalised service. Small, owner-managed agencies naturally have a very close relationship with their customers.

From the network, we complement this customer contact and very high level of service with consolidated data, uniform travel policies, and best practices for their travel programme.

 

What’s the biggest challenge for business travel distribution in 2019?

There is a huge gap between the myth and reality regarding new ways of content distribution. This needs to be balanced with new customer expectations, which come from the very handy and mature leisure booking experience.

It’s definitely not trivial to make this look seamless. But our powerful network combined with local best practices helps our members and customers master this challenge.

 

What’s the biggest opportunity for TMCs?

We must make the customer experience as convenient and attractive as the experience for leisure travellers. I am convinced that this is a great opportunity for our partners, as their service is both highly personalized and of the quality that our customers demand.

 

What do you like best about Switzerland?

I worked for a Swiss company for a number of years and spent a lot of time in this wonderful country. I love the landscape and nature. It is so picturesque and breathtaking no matter the season.

 

What is your most inspiring/impressive personal travel experience?

Definitely a trip to Ascension Island, a small island in the middle of the South Atlantic, used by the British and Americans as a military base. My husband is one of the few people actually born on Ascension. His father was employed by the British government at that time and was stationed there for two years.

Access to the island is limited because of its military use. That’s unfortunate since the nature on Ascension is absolutely unique. You will find a lush green and practically untouched forest belt, as well as sprawling lava fields and beautiful beaches.

 

Nicole, thank you so much for your time and the interview!

Interview mit Glenn Watson, Advantage Focus Partnership

Umbrella had the honour of taking part in a wonderful, very effective “speed dating” event with Focus Partnership in Manchester. The Focus Partnership is a group of 60 owner-operated TMCs in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands.

In this interview, Glenn Watson, the mastermind behind this event, explains topics such as how Focus and its partners are preparing for new sales channels with NDC and more.  

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Interview with Alon Meisels, CEO at Atriis

When we talk to TMCs about NDC, the name Atriis is on everyone’s lips. These travel tech pros from the Israeli city of Tiberias seem to be doing a lot right. And now there is also a bidirectional profile data interface between Umbrella and Atriis. 

We spoke to the company’s CEO Alon Meisels to find out more about the technology and vision that drive Atriis’ impressive growth.

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Interview with Frederic de Pardieu, CEO of mTrip

Dear Reader, what do you think of the idea that travellers can maintain their profile information directly in their travel app? It’s actually a very popular idea and unsurprisingly so, as it makes perfect sense.

Umbrella’s data integration with the Canadian travel assistant app mTrip is amazingly convenient, both for travellers and for TMCs.

Here’s our interview with mTrip’s founder and CEO, Frederic de Pardieu:

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GlobalStar and Umbrella

GlobalStar Travel Management operates in more than 3,500 locations in over 85 countries. Its combined turnover is more than US $14 billion.

Umbrella is pleased to announce that GlobalStar has chosen us as their global partner for profile management!

Please find below our insightful interview with GlobalStar’s president, Steve Hartwell and Benjamin Christen, Implementation & Operational Development Manager!

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Midoco steigt bei Umbrella ein

Hilden/Wetzikon, 27. September 2018. Midoco, führender Anbieter von Midoffice/ERP-Systemen für den Reisevertrieb in Deutschland, wird Mehrheitseigner der Umbrella AG in der Schweiz. Damit sichert sich Midoco den Key-Player im Bereich Midoffice in der Schweiz. Die zweite Produktlinie der Umbrella AG, Umbrella Faces, ist für Midoco von besonders hohem strategischen Interesse. Über Faces können Profildaten von Reisenden über mehrere GDS und andere Systeme hinweg synchronisiert werden.

Die Umbrella AG bleibt als eigenständiges Unternehmen erhalten. Gründer und CEO Martin Bachmann scheidet aus, steht dem Unternehmen aber weiter beratend zur Verfügung und bleibt Ansprechpartner für einige Großprojekte. Helmut Pilz, Remo Räber und Wolfgang Schuller bleiben Gesellschafter. Den Vorsitz des Verwaltungsrats der Umbrella AG übernimmt Steffen Faradi, geschäftsführender Gesellschafter von Midoco. Faradi führt übergangsweise auch die operativen Geschäfte der Umbrella AG. Über den Kaufpreis wurde Stillschweigen vereinbart.

Martin Bachmann kommentiert den Einstieg von Midoco so: „Ich bin froh mit Midoco den richtigen und starken Partner für den weiteren Ausbau von Umbrella gefunden zu haben. Die Teams passen sehr gut zusammen und werden die weitere Internationalisierung vorantreiben.“

„Die Umbrella AG hat ein sehr gutes, innovatives Team, das perfekt zu Midoco passt. Martin Bachmann hat mit seinem Unternehmen Beeindruckendes geleistet“, sagt Midoco-Chef Steffen Faradi. Er hebt die strategische Bedeutung der Mehrheitsbeteiligung hervor: „Midoco und Umbrella Faces sind eine hervorragende Kombination, so dass wir die Services für internationale Business Travel Kunden weiter ausbauen können.“

Umbrella Faces synchronisiert Profildaten von Reisenden über verschiedene Systeme hinweg. Es automatisiert den Abgleich der Profildaten und erspart zeitaufwändige und fehlerbehaftete manuelle Arbeit, in einer Welt  fragmentierter Reisevertriebssysteme.

Umbrella Faces wird bereits international von zahlreichen Unternehmen im Bereich Business Travel eingesetzt. Dazu gehören CTM, Uniglobe, GlobalStar, Clarity, Focus Advantage Partnership und ATG. Einige Midoco-Kunden wie die Lufthansa City Center Reisebüros und Columbus nutzen ebenfalls Faces.

Zu den Partnerunternehmen, über die Faces die Profildaten synchronisiert, gehören die GDS-Betreiber Amadeus, Sabre und Travelport, aber auch verschiedene Online Booking Engines (OBE) im Geschäftsreisesektor, so Cytric, Atlatos, Concur sowie Atriis und Farelogix. Umbrella Faces pflegt und synchronisiert damit Reisendenprofile ebenfalls in der wachsenden Welt des Direktvertriebs von Reiseleistungen.

Umbrella – Profiles On Demand

Mit der API Profiles On Demand löst Umbrella ein komplexes Problem. Denn mit dieser Anbindung haben Kunden jederzeit Zugriff auf ihre Profildaten. Aber sie brauchen keine eigene Datenbank mit Reisenden-Informationen entwickeln und pflegen. Dazu sind mit der Speicherung der Daten in Umbrella alle Vorgaben der europäischen Datenschutzgrundverordnung (DSGVO) erfüllt.

Einzelne Reisenden-Profile werden aus Umbrella direkt in externe Anwendungen eingespielt. Praktische Beispiele dafür sind unter anderem

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Phone: +41 44 933 53 90
E-Mail: info@umbrella.ch