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8 November 2016 , 11:22 am

Movers & Shapers: Mary Shilleto is passionate about empowering future leaders

Always open to new ideas and new trends in the market, Mary Shilletto is said to ‘carry a world of knowledge with her’.

Mary started her career in the South African travel industry at South African Airways in the seventies. She gained further experience at Japan Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as well as retail travel agencies before starting a retail corporate travel agency in Johannesburg in the nineties. Eleven years ago, she was headhunted by Thompsons Travel Group, where she took the reins of the retail division as CEO.

With this wealth of knowledge and experience, Mary is ideally positioned to assist and train the future leaders of the South African industry. The most important message she wants to pass onto the leaders of tomorrow is to be attentive and really listen to what the customer wants, to show a genuine interest in the customer’s needs and to deliver product knowledge that is fairly priced.

The travel agent of the 21st century needs to be able to transform business and leisure travel by delivering revolutionising technology in tandem with first class service, Mary says. She explains it is important that consultants manage their booking priorities as well as their time.

“Travel consultants need to ensure that they are briefed with the latest and most informed relevant information to deliver a well-constructed itinerary. This highlights to the traveller the value in dealing with a travel professional,” she says.

Also technology is an important factor for any travel agency wanting to be successful in the 21st century. Says Mary: “A good technology partner and a great relationship with all your top suppliers (airlines, hotels, car rental etc.) combined with top content, air fares, hotel rates and a sophisticated booking system, all add to a holistic experience for both the travel agent and the client.”

Amadeus’ online tools, such as AeTM, have changed clients’ and consultants’ lives, according to Mary. She explains these tools offer ease of booking, lower travel transaction fees as well as a seamless customer experience. Says Mary: “Mobile messenger for example allows clients to receive schedule changes and strike disruption notifications. For travel agents, this tools makes the responsibility of duty of care a more seamless exercise.”

Besides her role as a mentor in the industry, Mary loves the interaction with customers, suppliers and colleagues, who she says have all become warm friends in South Africa. “We constantly meet friends, including industry colleagues and other TMCs, along the way during business travel and at conferences such as WTM and EITM. Our lives are enriched by the journeys that we are privileged to make.”

Mary warns that it is important to remember that ‘what you put in, is what you get out’. She explains that she has put in many hours of hard work, blood sweat and tears, but the rewards have been numerous and ‘beyond any of my expectations’.

Says Mary: “I hope that I have contributed in some small way to the industry by being a professional TMC where travel expertise, proactive thinking, and being an ambassador for both my company and our dynamic industry.”

 

Mary Shilleto

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This post was written by Amadeus Africa Team

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