Q: How did Excite Holidays come into being?
A: George Papaioannou, my co-founder and I, started in a one-bedroom apartment in 2002 and boot-strapped every last dollar into the business. We realised early on that there were some really antiquated workflows in travel. It was the age of brochure wholesalers so we landed on the scene with a dynamic offering over the web.
Q: What has been the key to your success?
A: The main reason is the way we constantly challenge: there's always a better way of doing things or a better way of thinking. We are disruptors, innovators, movers and shakers. Another key is that we have our own software, we are independent and we never push anyone else's agenda. We offer the cheapest available rates to the agent and that is at the core of our success.
Q: Do you believe high street agents are a dying breed?
A: One thing is for sure. The travel agency business has never been stronger in Australia and everybody needs to accept that this sector is not going to die. It'll morph and change, but there will always be people out there with complex itineraries who are time poor or want advice that will need somebody to hold their hand.
We're also experiencing an age of extremely well researched consumers, who will sit down in front of an agent with their smart device and tell them what prices they can get on the internet. So in order to book with an agent the product must be endorsed, add value and provide security. Those three things are key in an agent's workflow.
Q: You’ve unveiled some exciting new technology to the market recently.
A:We've just launched our new 'Activities' module. It is world-class and we are so proud of what we have been able to deliver. The user interface is phenomenal and the information is clear. There's also the 'Search by Anything' function within our site, which very few companies are offering. You are able to search by absolutely anything: by street, location, hotel. It's all about getting the agent to the product as quickly as possible so they can be competitive.
We will be redeveloping our 'Transfer' offering in the coming months while 'Flexi-Com' is all about giving back control to agents to determine their own margin for a product. 'Excite Engage' is our agent information portal where we create our own content and provide downloadable brochures on a destination which agents can also pass on to their clients.
Our entire user interface is tailored for the agent. We have a huge point of difference in helping solve some of the problems that agents have and bringing the right product to their store, whether it be home-based or bricks-and-mortar. We are constantly supporting agents to make sure they have the tools to close the sale.
Q: And you’re about to take on America?
A: We officially launch Excite Holidays into America on November 30. We've got preferred contracts signed with a couple of groups over there which will give us an awesome springboard into that market. It's huge for us and we're very excited about that business.
Q: What does the future of Excite Holidays look like?
A: We've grown over the last 15 years from absolutely nothing to being an extremely serious player within the Australian market. In the next five years we will be absolutely huge. I don't know another travel company that is growing at the rate we are. We're making big gains and we're here to stay.
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