Amadeus has made a lot of changes and introduced numerous innovations during the last 30 years.
As Amadeus celebrates its 30th birthday, we decided to chat to Yann Gilbert, GM Amadeus Nigeria, about his experiences in travel in Africa …
Yann has always loved Nigeria. He spent four years living and working in the south-eastern part of the country as Air France’s country manager for Eastern Nigeria from 2007 to 2011. After a short break in Europe where he took on the role as GM for AF-KLM for Greece and Cyprus, Yann was drawn back to Nigeria – and the dynamism of the country.
Yann says he loves the sharp, to-the-point personalities and excellent sense of humour of the Nigerian people as well as the Nigerian music, art and fashion.
Here’s what he tells us about the changes he has witnessed in travel….
What have been the main changes in the way people travel?
The main change is that more people are travelling today. Before, travel was elitist and reserved to only a few people in the world. Today, travel is accessible to many people.
Is there anything you are missing about the good old times of travel?
We are missing the luxurious seats in the planes, the good food, the impeccable service onboard. That has almost completely disappeared. Nowadays, airlines are trying to put as many people as possible in one plane. Service has also been reduced drastically.
What I also miss is the safety of travel in years gone by. There was no security control: travel was very smooth. You could go to the airport and you could just board the plane with no security and no control.
Is there anything you are definitely not missing?
Paper tickets were a nightmare!
If you lost your ticket, or even if you simply wanted to make a change to your flight, the procedure was difficult if not impossible. In those days, you had to travel with your ticket in hand. It wasn’t like today that when you can easily find any ticket on the system.
What are the three technologies that have had the most impact on travel in the past 30 years?
The emergence of the GDS
What has been the scariest and most exciting development in travel over the past 30 years?
Technology is evolving faster and faster and is moving in a great variety of directions. It is complex for any human being to adapt to technologies at such a fast pace.
It can be extremely daunting to manage this technological evolution without getting lost in it.
Although technological innovations are exciting, we have to be careful to maintain the simplicity and ensure that technology remains comprehensible for everyone.
Amadeus is extremely well skilled at making technology accessible to all and to integrate technological innovations into existing systems as smoothly as possible for its customers.
How do you feel the role of the travel agent has changed over the last 30 years?
The role of the travel agent has changed tremendously. Before the role of the travel agent was based on personal relationships and networking. Now the focus has shifted more towards transparency in a technology-driven market. Today everything is more transparent and fares are accessible to everyone. Technology is changing the travel game!
What were the biggest fears in the travel industry 30 years ago? How has the industry dealt with these fears?
I was still very young 30 years ago, so it’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what the fears were at that time.
There was no GDS and no instant information sharing. Fraud was a big problem with fake tickets and fears that the agents would not remit the money to the airlines.
A little bit more about yourself… Where were you 30 years ago? What were your dreams and aspirations?
I was at school in Algeria. My parents took me travelling since I was just two months old. And for the past few years, I’ve been travelling on average twice a week.
Travel runs in the family – from my great-grandfather to my grandfather and father – they were all in travel. Even my son now has ambitions to start working in travel.
What are your ambitions for the next 30 years?
To travel less! I just want to relax in my home village with my family and not travel at all anymore.
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