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Paul Evans Keynote - How to build a business
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Paul Evans Keynote - How to build a business


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  • Frankly I wondered what I should talk about !Many of you I understand are non travel So I thought I would not be too specific or technical You will get lots of that during the day Some of it is personal – forgive me Not a conversation/sales job- just thoughts – my view I hope to inspire some entrepreneurs /or those that prefer corporateSome successes and failures - constant change Where lowcost is going – our focus What drives me –you only drive one car
  • I am head of interference Dabble Fiddle Annoy – teach- lead-influence Dictate
  • Some back ground on me Eton – elephants – pretty wild youthI am not a techy – I hate instruction manuals / etc.I am probably now an old fart I think I have seen – visited – experienced - more than most And the journey is not over yet
  • Corporate 20 years – Club-Saga – airtours- MyTravel-First Choice – worked hard Buyer – travelled the world – rose up ranks – eventually MD of First Choice – then Sept 11 – blew too many bridges along the wayPromoted to level of incompetence – deal maker to general managerFIFo – fit in or fuck off - and I didn’tLeft the industry Two key changes – holiday hotels-– independent travelWatermark-seeing entrepreneur first hand- get sales in first – rest will take care of itself Got to see what u have to do to run a biz – it is different – explain why Weekends – weekdays Morning /nightYou must do
  • One day – on a beach in the Maldives- missed Travel Made the decision to set up lowcostTyped it into computerAll these urlsNo alternatives Fed up with rules Time to take destiny into my hands
  • The greatest liberating factor is flexibility we offer- the “sangria moment” -as I call it, the ‘non package’ moment.Cant / don’t mentality Reps /Transfers/Mass Check insYou can see the differences as you stand in the airport Easyjet v Tui – profile differences of customers Stop offs SangriasSupposed quality v neutral
  • Wanted to be part of a different sort of coCustomer in control Not too corporate – fast moving – fun Play hard – work hard Easy to say- but difficult to do Came at it from the product perspective In 7 years we have built a monster! Sometimes I wander around and I don’t know people names – or even always what they do and that is scary
  • £350m sales – 400 staff – 10 countries and growing 2004 – started with team – backers - buying – ccard – licences – team – then technology- then distribution Overseas backers – suppliers then -Close (Albion) Real focus on Distribution came later – wrongly – should have started earlierOnce I had made up mind – threw myself into itOne of several reasons cost me my first marriageIt is difficult to explain lessons in last 7 years Went live in Oct 2004
  • Lowcostbeds – trade and directThen split it out – to lowcostholidays and lowcostbedsBuy and build- opportunistic Started with Call centre - CenturyHoppa- Bought from now second wifeThe platform discussion with my FDLaunched holidays in 2009 – now website 7 in UK Bought Intuitive – then IdealThen set up easyjet –– last minute- holidays- Europe We are now in all channels and markets and countries We are now in all channels and markets and countries
  • So some of my lessons Lesson no 1 - be nice to people on way up – as on the way down they get their own backLesson no 2 – don’t always believe your own PR Lesson no 3 - “you can’t be best at everything“- ( higher up/older more you have to compromise )Lesson no 4 - Careful who you trust! Corporate life taught me that – I made some mistakes and I certainly got stabbed in the bacKI ask everyone here to look at themselves and think about which one they are – or think they are
  • The importance of 7 key things in the business Experience TeamTechnologyProduct- inc suppliers Regulations Distribution7. Luck
  • 1/ Experience Seen it before contacts – reputationRead the signs earlierCan coach help younger Been thereBut sometimes it is also your worst enemyI am lucky – high growth is all I know – I thrive on it You try to do stuff like you used to and actually wrong thingforget 50% of what we had learnt -which 50% is the problem!Traditional tour operating – margin setting – risk – aviation – brochures – agents – xmls – directSelling what you had bought- rather than what people want
  • 2/ The Team Sounds obvious- but you can’t do it on your ownTeam is crucialIt is hard to find good affiliate – SEO – PPC – digital marketers – buyers –aviation teams- it developersGet people better than you are and manage them- senior team – u gradually become figure head Nightmare to manage Understand – or try to what makes them tick
  • Our culture is take risks – don’t care if you get it wrong – so long as you realise it If you don’t realise and admit it- and fix it yourself -or ask for help – or you have a problem It is hard to find good online marketeersMission and visions
  • 3/ TechnologyWe invest here – we own intuitive/ivectorWe have 30 plus developers plus 20 plus in house- more that 50 The problem you have is - it gets harder to manage – the lists get longerIT steering committees – priorities – resource –-processesDivergent pressures – internationalisation – front office vs back office etWe invest heavily in affiliates – we like you as we only pay if you sell I admire you guys-You guys better accessing customers We have a young proactive talented “good looking team” to manage- and we appreciate the support we get You are online travel agents- and we are just the manufacturer
  • 4/ Product Dynamic packages -Packages - Hotel only - Flight only - Cruise Trade – Direct - Europe They are all different – all challenges I think the key is to decide -what you want to do Our focus over the next few years is beds and holidays and packages It is less is more- (we have 5000 hotels - 60 plus xmls – 200 airlines - too much) We have great product – rates etcThe issue is really around how you bring it to market seamlessly and at an affordable cost and margin
  • 4/ Product Conversion is key -slim down and focus Q bit – small tweaks now – massive differenceCall centres -u won’t like – but it is true 20% v 1% conversionSpeed / de dupe /too many xmls /aviation/ display Seo - Massive investment over last 3 years– 20 plus team I admire three businesses Expedia – as truly global-Tui as has really differentiated – and saw people like us coming Travel Republic in the UK -for their focus
  • 5/ Regulations Complicated area - Atol – flight plus –Abta – Iata – Ccard –Banks –Hmrcbefore you even talk about competitors who want to kill you behind your backThe bigger you get – the harder it gets as well – stop disruptive co - establishmentThe risk gets bigger – the controls get bigger – want slice of the pie The Govt says it is helping business – it is not – it does the opposite The UK is probably the most regulated planet on earthWhy – because we have a big state – too many people on a small island All about managing risk and putting barriers up to protect your existing status quo and stop youIf you think airlines coming into flight plus – unlikely - Agents will get penalised out of flight plus
  • No loyalty-More functionalityBrand plays a role -Intermediates need to have range Speed- price Look at bookings Dev team sitting with users
  • Data – Sideways traffic I went to the Google seminar recently – great presentations – scary What most struck me was around dataGuardian data- was fascinating – just so much data out there – Just what do u do with it all CRM in travel- not sure Infrequent purchase – no loyaltyHold onto existing customers – repeat customers – review sites E mails Proper attribution – last click – re-targetting - roi – epc- cpa – etc – databases – mi – multiple transactions
  • And then there is google !It is the market 90% of the spend ?Google –how can you ignore it – android – chrome-you tube –MototolaComing into travel – knowledge – data-They make the money But Spend is controllable at least Lets see what they do in travel themselves Price Comparisons
  • Recent survey of lch customersAmazed how important security is
  • 5/ DistributionI underestimated this in the beginning - had to learn distribution- came from production Tour operating is tough- online travel is tough Trade and direct –all the channelsSideways traffic is crucial – you guys are sideways traffic Sometimes I talk to travel agents and you affiliates and realise they have not a clue about - the efforts – risk taken to get the stuff on the shelf in the first placeNo understanding of production cycle /margins Little concept of the costs involved – late night negotiating with a hotel – writing copy – loading – offers – seat commitments etcI don’t like the Travelzoo’s, Groupons – other channels – need to share risk more with us.
  • Massive Growth of mobile and tablets Bigger search boxes is keyMad rush to get mobile sites up Keep simple 10% of total trafficMobile has ctr of 15%Tablet 12%Av tablet value +£200Longer browse
  • We are about to launchAffiliate tracking on new site
  • Mobile good for simple HotelFlight Amazon
  • 6/ The Market What I do know -and predict is over next 5 years:Google – twitter – Facebook- will thrive Change is constant and quickening My son rarely uses e mail – twitter now overtaken facebook-Bored of bbmBrand does matter – for margin and repeatBig will get bigger easyjet/ ryan air v monarchsAirlines /operators - Charters will disappearT cook will shrink – orderly disposal/Tui will succeed ( 250 businesses) Mediums on-line will get bought/ squeezed Credit card penetration grows
  • Transcript

    • 1. Paul EvansLowcosttravelgroup
    • 2. About meWhat I didWhat I do …Interfere!
    • 3. Before old fartElephantsEton
    • 4. 20 years Corporatehelp or hindrance?
    • 5. Maldives
    • 6. “Sangria Moment”
    • 7. Build somethingdifferent
    • 8. Where lowcost stands £350m sales 400 staff 10 countries …and growing!
    • 9. lessons in life Be nice on way up Don’t believe own PR Cant be always best Careful who you trust
    • 10. 7 key things in business Experience Staff &Team Technology Product Regulations Distribution Luck!
    • 11. Experience Seen it before Contacts - reputation Read the signs earlier Been there
    • 12. Staff Corny about staff but most is true A sense of belonging is what matters
    • 13. Team Get people who are better than you Understand what makes them tick [or try] Take risks It’s hard to build and manage a team …we are still working on it!
    • 14. Technology Technology is key Invest in it Intuitive /Ivector Affiliates are online travel agents Call centres 20% vs 1%
    • 15. Product Packages dynamically Packages Hotel only Flight only Cruise Trade Direct InternationalThey are all different!
    • 16. Right model? Less is more? Slim down Market at an affordable cost? Admire 3 businesses Overseas suppliers
    • 17. Regulations Difficult Area ATOL, flight plus, ABTA, IATA, Banks, HMRC Competitors Most regulated place on earth
    • 18. Data Overload
    • 19. • European dimension• Difficult• Not all the same• Challenging• Sideways -traffic vary• Pan european affiliate deals
    • 20. Distribution Sideways traffic Critical Trade and direct Plethora of channels Europe? Google dominant everywhere?
    • 21. And then Mobile
    • 22. Growth
    • 23. ProspectsSimplicity
    • 24. The Market next 5 years; Google – twitter – facebook Airlines /Operators Charters Mediums squeezed Grow or specialise Pan European/Global /Local Commoditisation/ extras
    • 25. Questions?