Akshay Shah is the vice president of marketing for Sky Bird Travel & Tours, Inc. He is currently the president of United States Airline Consolidation Association and is on several boards of advisors for different organizations.
TRO: What was your most fond travel memory you can recall?
AS: To be very honest it was a trip to Rome I took with just my wife and I. It wasn’t so much the hotel as the ability to walk around Rome for five days, or whatever it was, visiting cafes and eating gelato and just experiencing it with her.
TRO: What is your role at Sky Bird?
AS: I am the VP of Marketing, though I have a part in much more than just that. I like to be very hands-on at Sky Bird- if someone calls and has a comment or complaint, I want to be available for them to speak with. There aren’t layers and layers of managers and employees to sift through with us. If you want answers, I want to be there to personally give them to you.
TRO: What is Sky Bird’s relationships with airlines?
AS: We currently have relationships with over 90 carriers that allows us to negotiate special fares between us and them. My philosophy on working with airlines is much the same as working with our customers and other partners. I want to be involved every step of the way. Over the years we have cultivated great relationships with so many airlines. It benefits everyone in the end.
TRO: Why is Sky Bird a valuable resource for travel agents?
AS: We are valuable for travel agents because we offer money on airfare which usually agents recommend the customer get on their own. We make it very easy for our agents to offer airfare to their customers either for individuals or groups. This gives them one more outlet to earn money without adding any additional headaches. Our agents at Sky Bird have been with us for years and are focused on providing the best customer service to travel agents to streamline their experience with us.
TRO: Does Sky Bird offer any unique booking technology for travel agents?
AS: Our booking engine, Wings, was built from the ground up to be custom tailored to our customers. Thanks to this, the engine fits very well with our customer’s needs. We are very proud of the fact that it connects to several GDSs at once that provides a very comprehensive availability and pricing for each request.
TRO: Do you have any advice for travel agents that may be struggling obtaining clients?
AS: The secret is just getting your name out there. It’s important to be proactive and not reactive in situations. Advertising, networking, everything helps. Talk to your friends and family first, let it work its way out from there. Please do not just sit and wait for calls to come in—it really is a matter of taking action.
TRO: Is there any new and exciting news or happenings on the horizon for Skybird?
AS: There are scenarios that are going to be happening with our website. We are trying to find innovative things to work out and include. Sky Bird tries to always stay on the cusp of what the customer wants and needs. We hope to evolve with those needs.