OTT raises a glass to the next 10 years
OTT was started in 2008. How would you sum up the early years of the business?
I noticed that travel companies were struggling to get their products and brand messages to the travel trade around the world. They had invested in large mobile sales forces, but after the recession, these were reduced. Some companies had embraced this new idea of ‘eLearning’ and had created courses to ‘train’ and promote their businesses in a new and innovative way. I simply aggregated these websites and within 4 months had more than 5000 Agents registered wanting to learn more about their suppliers."
"We ran out of eLearning websites to list and so I created a platform to make it easy (and cheap!) to upload content and create product training courses for many brands. The Agents loved this as it meant just one login to learn about lots of products and destinations and we won 8 industry awards in support of our innovation."
"In 2013, the airlines and destinations started asking about translations for other markets and my IT company said I had to rebuild the platform so it could be global. I found two investors and embarked on a three year journey to create a global platform. In 2016/17 we geo-located 21 countries and relocated our international courses across them. Our global audience has now grown to 165,000 travel professionals and our vision is to become the Number 1 B2B global marketing channel. We won’t stop until OTT becomes the industry’s favourite and easiest way to talk to the travel trade worldwide."
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen within the travel trade, a decade on from starting OTT?
“The biggest change that I’ve seen over the last 10 years is the advent of home working. It’s absolutely mushroomed. It hasn’t just mushroomed in the leisure sector, it’s mushroomed in the business sector as well.
“This has resulted in a huge change in the way travel sector businesses interact with agents. With a traditional visit, companies would pay a visit to the agency, bring in some doughnuts and talk to the agents in person. But with more agents now based at home, destinations and travel suppliers have had to change their methods for explaining their products and services. And that’s where we come in!”
OTT celebrates its 10th birthday this year, holding a joint party with Aegean Airlines. What’s in store for the next decade?
“The future is all about expansion and we’re all set to bring in larger audiences for the international brands that we work with. We already have a community of 165,000 agents and that’s without pushing OTT out internationally. With the capability to create courses in 15 languages, our goal now is to grow that largest travel trade audience in the world.”
“We’re already a step closer to this goal. Last month (August), we were delighted to hear the news that we had been selected to participate in the Mayor of London’s International Business Growth Programme. This will help us spread the word about how OTT can help travel trade partners through attendance at key international events and trade missions as well as introductions to contacts and investors.”
“For our 10th anniversary, we’re also running our first awards event which will honour agents who are boosting their product knowledge by taking online courses and the partners who are successfully using the platform to meet their marketing goals. The awards will be held as part of our VIP Birthday Party with Aegean Airlines on September 26, but we’re hoping to make them a real annual event.”