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Employee Profile: Meet Julie O'Sullivan Travelport Digital's Director of Customer Advocacy

What is it like to work at Travelport Digital?

At Traveport Digital we get the opportunity to work with some of the best Airlines and Travel Management Companies in the world. What I love most is that we have a chance to really influence their strategy and genuinely help them succeed in their business goals. We work with fantastic customers with whom we have built up very strong, trusting relationships over the years and this is what really makes it work.

It's also a very exciting industry to be working in; things are moving so fast in the travel technology space, and that makes it really challenging and interesting.

From an internal perspective, I’ve never worked in a place where the people are as passionate about what they do. There is a real buzz in the office as we have such a smart, talented bunch of people; nobody is afraid to speak up when things need to change or to be improved. We hold each other to account on being the best and we do it all with a real sense of commitment and camaraderie. It’s such a positive atmosphere and no one ever seems to lose their sense of humour!

What does your role entail?

I work in Travelport Digital as Director of Customer Advocacy. At the moment my customers are spread across the Americas and Asia. I’m responsible for the Product Owner, Account Management and Programme Management Group. We are our Customers’ strategic partners and trusted advisors. Together we ensure the overall success of our customers from a strategic, commercial and delivery perspective.

What advice would you have for anyone that is interested in working on your team?

What I look for in my group is people who are truly committed to customer success, have the ability to work hard and forge close relationships with our customers and who anticipate challenges or issues long before they present themselves. They also need to be comfortable telling us where we can improve or what we may need to change completely.  I’m very happy to be called out on any crazy approaches! Finally, a sense of humour is a must in any Travelport Digital team.

What is the favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of the job is when we are working with customers on their forward strategic planning. The trusting relationships that we have built with our customers are such that we can have very frank and open discussions about business goals and what defines success. From here, we show how digital strategy and goal-based roadmaps help achieve those objectives. It’s a great feeling to be figuring out what future success looks like with our customers. Knowing that Travelport Digital products and solutions can tangibly affect those goals really guides & motivates our teams to ensure we make that success happen.

I’m also lucky that within my role I get to interact with almost all areas of the business in Travelport Digital.  We have some pretty strong personalities at Travelport Digital and I absolutely love a good ole debate! It’s so rewarding bringing people together to figure out how we can play our part in customer success.   

What is the best project you have ever worked on?

Recently an internal committee was set up to focus on the key challenges within our business. We were broken out into 10 groups consisting of people from all areas and all levels to help transform the business. I led one of those groups and it was brilliant working cross functionally with an amazing team and coming together to provide tangible solutions to the challenges we had. We’ve had some great quick wins out of the ideas generated from each of the groups with some longer play ones on track, we’re seeing real business value come out of each of these groups.

What are you most proud of achieving in Travelport Digital?

My most proud achievement I think would have to be a program that had its first release in early 2014 and which has gone on to become hugely successful. It’s an excellent example of how ongoing investment in digital is transforming relationships and loyalty with end users.  It’s also an example of a very close and trusting collaboration between Travelport Digital and our customer, a relationship and delivery process upon which we model many new engagements.  

Describe your typical day in Travelport Digital

I have to start off  the day with at least 3 coffees; most of my colleagues understand and accept that I’m relatively uncommunicative until that happens! From there I plan out the day which invariably never turns out how I envisaged. I spend at least 5 hours of my day in face to face time, I don’t see this as meetings but rather true collaboration and “getting stuff done”.  Throughout my day I deal with everyone from our customer C-Level executives to our amazing Program/Project/Account Managers and Product Owners here at Travelport Digital. We’re all just trying to figure stuff out together. I always ensure that we put enough time in for planning, be it commercial, delivery or strategic.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love spending time with my  adorable family and friends - eating out, going for drinks and going for walks all while philosophising about the world around us. I also love heading back to Galway in the West of Ireland, where I grew up with my lovely three brothers and parents.  Galway is the most beautiful place in Ireland! I can go the opposite way too and just hermit and daydream myself away with a book or music. Depends on the day.

What was life like pre Travelport Digital?

I guess I haven’t taken the conventional route to get to where I am!

I went to university in Galway studying an undergraduate degree in Arts, majoring in English and French (and also Psychology for a while). It was an amazing time, Galway is the best university in the world, anyone who went there will tell you that! I followed that with a Masters in Simultaneous Interpreting at DCU, where I realised it was finally time to get serious about study.

After university I worked as a freelance French simultaneous interpreter for EU and private sector conferences. It was a really unique job as one day I could be doing simultaneous interpretation on stem cell research, the next day a conference for the International Association of Prison Chaplains and the next day a forum on EU Policy. It was a very interesting time in my life where I did a lot of travel and got to learn about so many different subject matters.  A conference  with hundreds of people relying on you to give you the speaker's’ message with a lag of just a few seconds (and elicit the same laughter!)  teaches you to think on your feet and be resilient to pressure.  For that I am very grateful.

Following that I moved into the world of  localisation, adapting technology products to world markets at Lionbridge Technologies,  before taking up a role in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, an American educational technology publisher. Here I worked to deliver flagship educational platforms for many of the States in America, then on to pioneering adaptive learning solutions and finally to solutions for the consumer market. One of those same flagship products was the first project in the company to trial out the Agile framework and with great success.

I then moved to Travelport Digital over two years ago, initially starting as Senior Account Manager, then moving to Program Manager and finally to Director. I have been very fortunate that Travelport Digital has really given me the opportunity to grow and develop. I’ve learned more in the last two years at Travelport Digital than in my entire career beforehand.

How different is Travelport Digital to any other company you have worked for?

The biggest difference for me is that you can genuinely shape how things are done here, people are open to it. I know that it is a cliche but we have such a fantastic group of people here; we have tech wizards but they aren’t the stereotyped ‘nerd’, they are smart indeed but also great fun and a kind lot! We also have a great culture at Travelport Digital of being open minded, and non hierarchical, which everyone likes.

We are also closer to how the market evolves than any other company I’ve been in. We’re good at it. We have to be - this is one hell of a fast moving space and we have to keep pace.

Tell us something we may not know from working in travel tech

Before I joined Travelport Digital I had no idea how vastly complex the world of travel and travel technology is. I have learnt so much since joining; from the challenges experienced within the corporate travel sector to what keeps airline executives up at night. There is a huge opportunity for digital technology to change the game for travel companies and I had never realised just  how much room there was for advancement in this space. Things we were talking to our customers about a mere six months ago have moved on and advanced since. We are at the cutting edge of digital transformation in travel and it is our job to keep our customers up to speed. That’s one of the reasons we are such fans of Agile development. It allows us to build flexible strategic roadmaps that embrace change. At Travelport Digital, we are all about the customer journey and experience and how we can help our customers to optimise engagement with their end users regardless of channel. There’s never a dull moment when it comes to changing trends in travel and we love that!

What is the favourite place you have been?

While I have spent a huge amount of time in France it has to be Lucca in Italy where I went to see a Leonard Cohen concert on a beautiful calm Summer’s evening. Italy is such a beautiful country, I love the people, the food, the wine, but I haven’t explored it nearly enough!

Describe Travelport Digital in 3 words

1. Fast
2. Colourful
3. Talented

 

Aisling White - Content & Communications Manager

Aisling has over 14 years’ experience in marketing, brand and PR. Prior to joining Travelport Digital, Aisling worked at Hostelworld.com and Sage Software. At Travelport Digital Aisling works on communications, content marketing and social media activity to drive lead generation and customer engagement.

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