|e-GDS, found to be necessary to take unprecedented measures and re-think the way we work.
But it was unequivocal: in this scenario, e-GDS decided to close the office doors indefinitely and have the team continue the work from home so that nothing is missing to our clients when they need us!
The challenges of this new reality are huge, and for this reason, we decided to interview Ana Sofia Castelo - e-GDS General Manager, to share with everyone her vision and experience in this time of indecision.
- In this first month of remote work, how has your experience been? What difficulties have you experienced as a Director and team leader and what actions have you taken that could help other companies?
The decision to work remotely was not easy. Not because of the technology, which we always knew was in our favor, but because of the way the clients would react... we all divided ourselves in the search for the missing pieces to make it possible! Strictly speaking, we were not much short of it (after all, we are technology) but the biggest concern was with people, those who create technology every day, those who deliver it to customers, those who make the machine work inside doors and those who ensure that customers always have the answers they need, when they need it! But it turned out to be very simple: we all knew that to be able to give the best answer we had to be well... and being well for these days means not stopping, but staying at home!
- How do you see the state of the hospitality industry in Portugal? Are you worried that 80% of the hotel business will be closed by June 2020?
It would be completely unreasonable for me to say that everything is fine. Nobody would take me seriously, right?! But from the very first moment, my message has remained the same: those who know me know that I am a positive person, that I always try to get the best out of all experiences, to get the best out of people. And this time it's not different: there will be a later, a time after all this, where we will all be prepared to respond to needs that we still don't know what they are... But, this time, we all have time to act! Let's be creative!
- What advice, from your experience, can you give to small enterprises to best manage their survival?
Remember that gold rule: stop, listen and look?! I would add, and don't stop!
In other words, being behind closed doors for now, or without customers, maybe is the opportunity to do better: invest in training, draw up an action plan for re-opening, invest this period that it ‘s time in everything that you would like to have done and have not yet succeeded ... I've, whether in the adoption of new technologies, the improvement of internal processes or simply the use of what you already have but never had time to explore properly!
We must be able to turn this crisis into opportunity. Again, be creative and differentiating... invest in finding out what is different about your business, and build a solid value proposition for the day after it arrives, if you make good use of this time, sooner than you think!
- What impact do you expect this quarantine to have, not only on what we now know of national but also international hospitality?
At the end of this global experience, we will all be much more digitally selective... If we were already researching to select the destination before, it is now even easier to understand that the selection of hotels will focus even more on the digital experience, the anticipated digital visit, the previous contact, the security, the hotel, and the destination... it is likely that the source of business will change, that the issuing markets will change, but what we already know is that technology will be the key to success. We will have to give in to the world we know, we will have to adapt, but I'm sure that together we will make it!
- To reassure customers with e-GDS solutions, can you identify any measures taken to ensure that services will not be affected?
Our customers know they can count with e-GDS, but all our partnership efforts now make much more sense. We are here to be part of the solution! And that's why we have been in close contact with all the channels that operate with us, we have made developments in our platform to accommodate booking modifications because of this pandemic, we have reinforced the support to our most direct services so that communications never fail with us, or simply between guests and hotels.
And of course, we are attentive to the market to deliver efficient solutions in the shortest possible time: having our development team, totally focused on market needs, facilitates this agility!
- Finally, what recommendations can you leave to e-GDS customers to minimize the impact of this situation we are experiencing?
We are usually faced with customer's lack of time for content, to describe the services and products they have, to create attractive digital content so that virtual visitors become real hosts. And invariably, the website and the direct channel are the ones who lose the most...
Minimizing the impact of this situation means communicating and creating the willingness of the experience with us, not losing the guests who had already decided for our hotel, finding partners who can bring added value to the offer we have or simply reinventing the offer internally to have a better and more interesting product.
Stop, think about your business, what makes it unique, and communicate consistently, from the inside out...
Make yourself heard! And as far as e-GDS is concerned, we're here!
We thank Ana Sofia Castelo, who in addition to being the director, is a woman, mother, and daughter.
Better days will come, days of hugs, reunions and placing the market on the site. A lot of work awaits us!