“Everything we do is online and Internet-based”
Director Rob Jansen and Anita van Maanen have been leading the UNIGLOBE Alliance Travel location in Rotterdam that goMICE is a part of for more than ten years. Now from a brand-new building at Wilhelminakade. In addition, the team received the prize for ‘Best Service Excellence 2016’ and for ‘Operations Manager of the Year 2016’ during the annual UNIGLOBE award show. Time to get to know them better.
UNIGLOBE Alliance Travel is an independent business travel agency and can call itself the market leader in the field of travelling SMEs. The team of reliable travel experts is ready 24/7 for all business travel needs. With lots of attention to detail and solid advice, the customer benefits from competitive rates, which have a cost-saving effect on the travel budget. Traveletc. talks to director/owner Rob Jansen and Anita van Maanen about the ins and outs of the organisation.
In the Manhattan on the Maas, Rob Jansen and Anita van Maanen, together with their team, recently moved into a new building at the iconic Wilhelminakade full of sensational high-rise buildings. Immediately next to the former headquarters of the Holland-America Line and Hotel New York, they have already managed to adjust. “It is quite a difference from our previous building (at the Westblaak, ed.). Here, we have a beautiful view. The Maas, the combination of history and modern architecture, and the Erasmus Bridge make this a pleasant location”, both directors agree. “In addition, the (close) presence of Havenbedrijf Rotterdam NV and security companies make this a good place to run the business.” Add to that the activity and the presence of good catering, and you will understand that Rob and Anita do not regret this decision one bit. Besides all these advantages, there was only one more important factor in considering the move. “Growth”, the directors/owners continue. “We had more or less grown out of our old building. In this new place, at our office in Rotterdam, the team, which currently consists of about thirty people, can continue to grow.” “How much growth?” “The capacity of the room we currently have in Rotterdam allows for a growth of another fifteen to twenty employees.”
In addition to the building in Rotterdam, Rob Jansen and Anita van Maanen added another two offices, namely in Goes and Arnhem. “When the opportunity to add these locations to our business arrived in 2012, we took it.” Rob, who has roots in Brabant himself, and Anita, who grew up in Arnhem, seized the opportunity to expand. “In the early period after the acquisition, the three locations operated as separate offices; now, we work as a team,” Rob and Anita explain excitedly. “Our customers still have a fixed point of contact. However, during peak periods or when a certain travel expert is not available, one of the other offices can easily take care of the booking.
Director Rob Jansen and Anita van Maanen have been leading UNIGLOBE Alliance Travel for more than ten years. Since recently, from a brand-new building in Rotterdam. By creating more unity in the work, there is also more unity in the team. We have since grown to a total of 45 employees who what they are doing. The consultants are aware of all the ins & outs. This way, despite the fact we offer the service of a fixed point of contact, we are still flexible.”
UNIGLOGE Alliance Travel distinguishes between two types of customers. “The customers who book online through the online booking system that Alliance Travel makes available. These customers take care of booking their tickets themselves and do not need much support from Alliance. On the other hand – and most of our customer base – are the customers who are looking for expertise. This type of traveller has a need to discuss their wishes in detail, especially when it concerns longer, complicated trips. These customers do not go on so-called A-B-A trips. The routes they travel are of an entirely different magnitude, much more complex. We unburden the customer. Not just by booking the flight tickets, but also by assisting them and advising them with things like car rental or visa applications.”
Arranging complex trips yourself is not something Alliance Travel recommends its customers. “When part of the trip goes wrong, who are you going to call? Moreover, a business trip often consists of so many components that it is madness to try and work that out without a professional.”
Director Rob Jansen and Anita van Maanen have been leading UNIGLOBE Alliance Travel for more than ten years. Since recently, from a brand new-building in Rotterdam.
Both directors do not immediately see trends when it comes to popularity in the field of business destinations. “For travelling SMEs, London remains the undisputed number one within UNIGLOBE Alliance. Beyond that, destinations are very project-dependent, it differs.” What he does notice is that there is more flying than before.
“At out goMICE department, (Meetings, Incentives, Congresses, Events) a department that has been committed to the organisation of meetings, incentives, congresses and events domestically and abroad since 2011, we see an increased popularity for cities like Valencia, Seville, Naples and the destination of Malta as an incentive destination. Many of our customers are no longer looking for typical cities like Barcelona, Madrid or Rome.”
In the field of technology, both directors notice it plays an increasingly large role during the booking procedure. “Technology is becoming ever more important. Everything we do is online and Internet-based. We want to stay at the forefront in terms of our bookings and the computer system. That is why we have invested in GDS Amadeus (Global Distribution System) for a seamless back office and customer implementation. Most of the requests reach our office via e-mail. Only when there is a true rush do customers pick up the phone to make their wishes known.” Even though technology is becoming more important, the number of online bookings is not growing as rapidly as expected, says Rob. “Where five years ago, we expected this to be half of our business by now, we are currently stagnating at about twenty percent.”
At the end of the conversation, Rob and Anita proudly inform us that UNIGLOBE Travel Alliance received no less than two awards during the annual UNIGLOBE award congress. “A performance our entire team is very proud of.”
his article originally appeared in Traveletc. #22 2017 published by UNIGLOBE Travel. Text: Eva Hopstaken