After joining CTS in 1990, Louie has overseen the Sales and Marketing for CTS. His familiarity with the products and the markets that CTS offers are one of the main reasons why CTS is where it is today. Louie holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from the Detroit College of Law.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You’ve been with Cosmopolitan Travel Service (CTS) for 28 years. What made you initially decide that this was the company for you?
Louie Melhem (LM): CTS was established by my father, Mike Melhem, in 1970. Growing up, I watched him build this company with incredible dedication and work ethic. I was blessed to have him as a mentor and role model. It was then an honor to come to work with him, and try to help him continue to build CTS into the company it is today.
TRO: At CTS, you’re position is Chief Marketing Officer. What does that entail on a daily basis?
LM: It’s important to keep getting the message out to the travel agent community about our products and services that will make them more efficient and profitable. I’m surrounded by a talented team that helps me accomplish this on a daily basis.
TRO: While gaining your degrees, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Juris Doctor degree, did you have a desire to go into the travel industry?
LM: The degrees are nice to have and at some point, I considered practicing law. But I shared the same passion as my father for the travel industry and saw some great opportunities. There are definitely no regrets about that.
TRO: CTS has a long history with the travel agent community. Has this relationship changed over the years, or is it essentially the same?
LM: It is essentially the same. However, the travel agent community has evolved over the years. Today’s travel agent is a sophisticated business man or woman. Thus, we need to continue to improve and evolve in order to be able to provide them not only with the right products but also with the best service.
TRO: Of course, in our digital age, the methods of planning travel have changed dramatically since 1970. How is CTS continuing to improve the way it allows travel agents to book flights?
LM: While what I believe to be our biggest strength is our employees and the level of service that we provide on a daily basis, right behind that is our innovations in technology. Our self-service portal, booking engine and our other products have put us at the top of the industry.
TRO: How do you think travel agents benefit from using CTS?
LM: The biggest benefit is trust. We pride ourselves about having total transparency with the travel agents. We consider the travel agents that we work with to be our partners and do all that we can to make sure our partners have all the right tools to succeed. Other benefits of using CTS is that travel agents will be working with the most dedicated and experienced staff in the industry, have access to over 100 airline contracts and have access to our technology. All these will help them be more efficient and more profitable.
TRO: Is there anything new on the horizon for CTS that we should be on the lookout for?
LM: There will always be something new from CTS. We’ll continue to add more airline contracts. We will continue to innovate and improve the technology. We will continue to add hotels and develop our hotel booking engine. We will also continue to add locations. We now have 12 locations in the US and another 4 abroad. We consider this to be another strength of CTS. The benefit of having multiple branches across the US allows CTS to gain local knowledge of those markets but also to establish relationships with the travel agent communities in those markets. We are very excited about our two newest branches, Toronto and Los Angeles (San Gabriel). And hopefully more to come.