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Coming to America

Ahead of its launch in America, we speak to Excite Holidays' co-founder and executive director George Papaioannou about the company's plans for 2018 and beyond.


Q: What’s the secret to your success?

A: Perseverance is the word I like to use. It hasn’t been an easy journey: we have had a bumpy ride along the way and always been the underdogs of the industry. But we’ve earned the trust of all of our clients here in Australia, New Zealand and other markets. We’ve also stayed true to our message to agents that we are all about them. We don’t compete against them for the same customer and we offer a flexible solution where they can control their margin, which has been a very enticing proposal for them. Agents are one of our key assets and we want to make them look great in front of their customers.


Q: And now you’re launching into America?

A: America has been very tricky for a lot of companies out there who have had an offering and tried to tap into the market. You need to have some serious contacts to penetrate the U.S. market but we believe that if we can develop those relationships and we’ve got a really good value proposition then we can penetrate that market and take a significant share of that pie.


Q: How is your offering different to those that have tried to crack the U.S. market and failed?

A: It’s our core value being all about the agent. Not only do we offer a really good technological solution but customer service is also a big thing for us while our experience and our expertise in the world of travel agents is also a major selling point. We have managed to obtain great loyalty over the years and if we can replicate that formula and show that same tender loving care to the agents in America I’m sure they’ll love us, the Excite team and the technological solutions we have to offer.


NYC (Image Shutterstock)


Q: Do recent events in the U.S. make this a bad time to launch there?

A: We started our business straight after 9/11 and everyone thought we were mad because there was a fear that people wouldn’t travel. But I think Aussies and Americans have a tendency to move on and not live in fear. There’s never a perfect moment to enter a market but believe me we are going to serve those agents as well as we do those in Australia. America is a significant and key element of our global growth strategy.


Q: So will you diverge into other world markets?

A: Eventually, yes, absolutely. We have a growth strategy but we need to make sure we’re making the right moves at the right time.


Q: Like China, for example?

A: It’s a huge and emerging market and we’d be crazy not to dabble in that market.


Q: What is your vision for Excite?

A: We want to be a bona fide global player. I can’t say that we’re big time in the global space at the moment, but we will be. Our name is out there and people know we are good at what we do. We’ve got an amazing value proposition for the trade and I think there a lot of people and markets out there who could benefit from our offering.


Written by: George Papaioannou, as told to Jon Underwood
Published: 5 November 2017

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