Interview with Leonidas Zotos, Travelport Country Manager Greece
The tourism sector in Greece may have saw rough times last year as a result of the global economic crisis but global distribution system (GDS) provider Travelport Greece says it is “a strong believer in the future of Greek tourism. “This is why we have been building our presence in the region steadily to date, and we also have plans to invest and expand further,” Leonidas Zotos, Travelport Country Manager Greece, told GTP. “Greece has a long history and tradition in tourism, a sector in which the country has knowhow, experience and unique advantages,” he said.
By Nikos Krinis, GTP news editor
GTP: What effect, if any, has Greece’s economic crisis left on Travelport Greece? Have there been cutbacks?
Leonidas Zotos: Whilst 2010 was clearly a tough year for the industry, it’s been an exciting one for Travelport in this region, as we took the decision to invest in it and set up a combined Travelport operation offering both the Galileo and Worldspan platforms direct to travel agents from January 2011. This has in fact involved expanding the customer-facing team on the ground and investing in new customer support services such as a localized helpdesk. We have also continued to invest in the rollout of our new technology such as our new Travelport Leisure portal—a one-stop shop for selling leisure travel.
In your opinion and experience, how competitive is the GDS market in Greece?
In Greece, as in the rest of Europe, the local GDS sector is highly competitive and this is healthy for both travel agents as well as the end travelers. Our mission at Travelport is to ensure that we continue to offer industry-leading GDS technology and tools, combined with extensive air, hotel and car content so that we remain the local GDS of choice.
Greek businesses still rank low in regards to their online presence. Do you believe they will eventually follow global tendencies?
Greek businesses are always keen to follow global trends and tendencies—in fact, there are cases where they actually are trend-setters! Greek businesses in the travel sector specifically have traditionally been more comfortable serving customers in more conventional ways. Today, however, they are getting on board the Internet wagon at a fast and steady pace, offering innovative products and solutions to an even wider audience. We are very happy to see this happening, and we put all our tools and resources at their disposal, to make their work easier and more effective.
What are Travelport Greece’s future plans for the Greek market?
Travelport recently announced plans to provide a direct service to Galileo-connected travel agencies in Greece and Cyprus following the expiry of its distribution agreement with Galileo Hellas in January 2011. This forms part of our ongoing strategy to invest in the region and grow our direct operations. Importantly, we will continue to offer travel agency customers the choice of both Galileo and Worldspan GDS platforms.
We’ve been running a successful direct Worldspan operation for travel agencies in Greece since 1992, and, as a result of this investment decision, we now plan to also provide the same direct service and support to all Galileo-connected travel agencies.
This change to our business model will enable us to work directly with all our local customers in the region to roll out relevant new GDS services and technology. This long-term investment decision also builds on the direct distribution network we have already successfully established across Europe and our wider worldwide network over the past two decades.
In your opinion what is the worst aspect of the Greek travel business (if any)?
The travel business in Greece and Cyprus is no different than most major markets in the sector. All markets have their challenges, but it is our job to build on the strengths of the region and overcome any hurdles, in order to maintain our leadership position. Greece and Cyprus are strategically significant markets for Travelport and we are very optimistic about our plans and prospects to grow our presence in the region further.