OTA Insight’s workforce is comprised of passionate and talented people from 31 different nationalities, ranging from data scientists to product managers – all driven by a set of values and a collaborative culture which come together to make the #BestTeamEver. Our Employee Spotlight series aims to give you an insight into the careers of some of the remarkable individuals who make OTA Insight the industry leader for revenue and distribution enablement.
Patricia Verdonck has been with OTA Insight for over 3 years, and works out of the Ghent office in Belgium as a Test Booking Expert. Working across all things parity, Patricia and the Test Booking Team deal with some of the world's biggest hotel chains, going the extra mile and working tirelessly to deliver the very best client service. We had a chat with Patricia to find out about her experience and journey working at OTA Insight.
I’m part of the small but resourceful test booking team. It’s just my team lead Nathalie and I, but we work well together. The test booking process was created for bigger chains that are dealing with a lot of parity issues and losses, without being able to retrieve the wholesaler currently selling their rooms at these low prices.
This is where we come in, because the wholesaler will only be shown after a booking has been made and sent to the system of the chain/hotel. OTAs and wholesalers go hand in hand, sometimes offering some suspect deals and prices, but not always delivering the service or without the booking even making it to the hotel. This results in the loss of money for the person booking their holiday and the hotel losing business.
Pre-COVID times my days were filled solely with test bookings. We were actually just expanding the team, because more and more chains discovered the advantages of having test bookings done for them. While it’s still quite hard at the moment, we have seen a number of the chains slowly coming back, knocking on our door and asking us to start their project again. This means my days are slowly reverting back to how they were before; busy with constant attempts at bookings and figuring out the wholesalers, and how they work. I do try to help my colleagues in other departments when I can though. For example, at the height of the pandemic some of my days were spent helping out with work for our finance department.
My team lead is very open about the processes we use and what we offer our clients. She makes useful guidelines to follow and whenever I am curious about anything new - she will offer help and guidance to learn more. Next to that, HR has been very open and helpful during the pandemic, asking if I want to follow any other teams that I might be interested in. I took that opportunity to follow the Customer Success team for a while, to see the cases and what the clients were having issues with. I like how OTA as a company is open and you can ask and/or see what other teams are working on.
When my team lead had a holiday of 3 weeks, we received an escalation from one of our biggest clients at that time. We had meetings to resolve the situation and worked closely with the chain to make sure they were fully satisfied with our test booking service.
They were some pretty long and hard days, but in the end we made it work (without having to disturb my team lead on vacation). And the client is happy with the test booking service to this day. It was a team effort and everyone went the extra mile to make sure everything worked out.
I feel like all of us here have a blend of OTA Insight values. But it’s definitely noticeable how we put the clients’ needs first. We go the extra mile, even when it seems like the job is impossible. We will find a creative solution to help the client wherever we can and provide excellent service.
There will always be a moment to have a pause and reflect on the possible solutions we can offer, to make sure we pick the most effective one. In our team we often go back to previous solutions to see how we can improve them, and our service. I feel like that’s another element to what makes OTA so great - the ability to reflect on our previous assignments and see how we can improve these previous tasks
I think 2021 will be a transitional year. We will probably keep taking trips more locally and by that I mean people from Europe will travel mainly within Europe itself. Choosing trips where they don’t need to fear quarantine for example. And then in 2022 the intercontinental trips will probably see a far greater rise.
There are too many destinations to mention, but some top destinations of mine are the following: Japan (north to south), South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cuba, Argentina, Peru, Israel; and those are just the ones off the top of my head.
My new puppy! She’s a tiny little bean that still needs a lot of training and attention (and love obviously). She definitely makes it easier to get out of bed quickly! (Well, her and coffee of course).
Going to the gym. I was gutted when I heard they had to close and they closed for so long as well. Luckily my gym has an outdoor area where I could go and do small group sessions with a trainer from the gym itself. I’m not the biggest sportsperson, and I’ll never be either, but a proper session gives my morale a big boost.
I don’t think I can’t go without any kind of music platform. Before Spotify it used to be my itunes library, but now most of my music comes from both Spotify and Apple Music. And if I’m completely lost on both of those, I’ll even open Youtube just to find new songs, artists and genres.
I’m happy that technology has opened music from all around the world and you’re not just limited to either local music or big artists from the US or the UK. It definitely gives me joy to find a new song or artist and make it my newest jam (for the next month at least).
I’m currently listening to newer music, but my playlists are constantly on shuffle mode. Right now it is Rise by Lost Frequencies. I’ve always been a fan of Lost Frequencies’ music and how he mixes different genres of music. It’s my kind of thing as I don’t focus on a specific type of music, whatever I like, I like, and it doesn’t matter what genre or language or feeling it has.
Patricia's experience - alongside that of other OTA Insight champions - help to bring to market leading business intelligence solutions which are trusted by over 55,000 hotel partners around the globe and have been named #1 Rate Shopping & Market Intelligence Tool, Parity Management Software, and Business Intelligence Software by HotelTechReport.