Face-to-Face: Liza Fitzell

We chat with Diethelm Travel Group's Group Managing Director

Liza Fitzell
Liza Fitzell

This week, Travel Daily talks to Diethelm Travel Group’s Group Managing Director, Liza Fitzell, about the Asian travel company’s performance in 2016 and outlook for the year ahead…

Q)    How was 2016 for Diethelm Travel, and which parts of your business are seeing the strongest growth?

2016 was a year of transition and change across the board, starting with welcoming new senior management and a new global sales team joining the company from around the world. We also implemented a new reservation system, new website, new magazine and launched several collections of new products including ‘Go Local’, a range of experiences focusing on local interactions and activities. As for markets, we saw the biggest growth from Russia and Eastern Europe, along with the USA, UK, India and China.

Q)    What are the major factors expected to impact your business (positively or negatively) in 2017?

With our added sales teams in London, Munich and Los Angeles, and with the new business won in 2016, we expect to see significant growth this year from the UK, USA, Europe, Middle East and India.

Q)    Which destinations are currently the most popular with your clients, and which are on the rise?

Sri Lanka is a ‘hot’ destination right now and doing very well. We are also predicting to see growth from Malaysia, particularly Borneo, which is doing fantastically well with its amazing rainforest lodges, local interactions and soft adventure products. For Thailand, our island hopping itineraries have become popular combining a ‘barefoot chic’ selection of off the beaten track islands paired with destinations in the northern part of the country where we have built some fantastic soft adventures products. Our bespoke multi-country itineraries are also becoming more sought after as people seek out a range of destinations, experiences and cultures into one holiday.

Q)    What technological solutions are you rolling out improve your customers’ experience?

Last year we implemented a new reservation system that now gives us multiple XML/API connections with our clients for instant booking. We also purchased a GoPro to take video footage of our fam trips to show first-hand accounts of our journeys. In 2017 we will launch a new agent portal that will have destination information, video training and a B-to-B booking option for ten of the countries we operate in. We are also rolling out an app with on-the-ground day tour booking capabilities and itinerary information, as well as a supplier extranet.

Q)    What additional steps will you be taking to engage with the travel trade in 2017?

In 2017 we will attend more varied trade shows, including FITUR in Spain, PURE in Morocco and ILTM in Mexico, in addition to the usual trade shows we always attend, such as ITB and WTM. Our onsite sales directors will mean more sales calls to new and existing clients while a new webinar training series and 16 fam trips across our 12 countries will help agents gain more personal experience with the destinations and products they’re selling. We’ll also be publishing three issues of our Diethelm Discovery magazine throughout the year to continually inspire our customers with new product developments across the region.

Q)    What further developments can we expect to see from Diethelm Travel this year?

In March we have a new group product director joining us who will be focusing on building out our product range with new and exciting experiences. We’re also planning on further developing our adventure products across the group.

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