Interview with Diamantis D. Pithis, Director of Argo Travel Group
Argo Travel, one of the very first travel agencies in Greece approved and certified by IATA, recently designed and launched a new B2B website, providing players in the travel trade with professional and reliable travel-related services.
By Nikos Krinis, GTP Newseditor
GTP: Can you share some history with us about Argo Travel?
Diamantis Pithis: Argo Travel was founded in Athens by Dimitrios Fytilis and Dimitrios Pithis in 1952. The former passed away in 1966 and the later is still the President, CEO and CFO of the company. George and Pantelis Fytilis and Adamantios D. Pithis are the second generation who jointly run the group. Although Argo started as a small agency specializing in ship crew movements, today we offer “total travel” worldwide through our privately owned offices in the center of Athens with branches in Thessaloniki, Geneva and London. We also have plans to open a branch in Shanghai within 2011.
What exactly does the new B2B platform provide to travel agents and tour operators?
Argo Travel’s online travel portal was created with more than one objectives in mind: to offer travel professionals instant and agent friendly travel related services with comprehensive choices at extremely competitive prices; to provide a reliable tool to those interested in becoming local or international consolidators; and to extend our “world player” status to the online travel services too, by becoming a specialist with direct travel related contracts in the SE Mediterranean. Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt are typical examples.
What are the features of this B2B platform?
The B2B platform offers airlines tickets on net fares without mark up, real time access to 220,000 hotels worldwide and 3,500 direct Argo contracts with Greek, Cypriot, Egyptian and Turkish hoteliers. Our platform offers a very powerful Google map integration with landmarks. Travel agents can also sort hotels according to price, special offer, star rating and review rating order.
Are any future applications planned?
Technology is a never ending process with an ever changing face. Future applications to be integrated into Argo Travel’s platform will be true worldwide insurance, car hire, cruises and many more.
Do you offer unique services that give you a standing above other players?
We believe that our Google map in combination with the landmarks that we have picked specifically for our fellow travel agents is a very useful and powerful tool. Another important asset is the huge data bank that our Hotel+Flight routing offers.
How do you face competition?
Competition is part of our professional environment. We welcome competition and we use it to our advantage. We don’t boast that we know everything. Arrogance is a dangerous partner. On the contrary we keep a close eye on our competitors and if we detect a good idea, we seek to outperform them by improving it and implementing it better.
What are the main challenges of the travel industry today and how can they be overcome?
During the last 10 years fellow travel agents have been expressing their dismay and concern regarding the Internet (travel stores) and the threat and damage that it has caused to the traditional travel agency. I am convinced that both… have their place in the market. Between these two extremes, however, there is a very lucrative market segment to be explored. In Argo we combine both approaches. Close personal relationships between our highly qualified staff and our esteemed clientele as well as improvement of our services through cutting edge technology and it’s innovative implementation.
If you could change one thing in regards to the Greek travel industry, what would that be?
If I must pick only one, it has to be the immediate change of the attitude and the general perception that the Greek state shows towards its heaviest industry and income generator. The Greek Government must better realize it fast and react immediately with an organized long-term professional approach, without petty political motives.