Eric has more than 20 years of travel industry expertise in both leisure and corporate travel distribution, and a strong track record applying innovative marketing and technology strategies to help travel professionals work more effectively and efficiently.
Prior to becoming CEO of ABC Global Services, Eric managed Thomas Cook North America’s Leisure Distribution business, growing the company’s retail and e-commerce business from $120 million in sales and 130 employees to $650 million in sales and more than 700 employees. He joined Thomas Cook North America (formerly MyTravel North America) in 2006 as a consultant to the CEO, and became Senior Vice President in 2008, overseeing strategy for several companies, including ABC Global Services.
Eric also held senior-level positions with American Express in its Supplier Relations Group and as Vice President of its U.S. Consulting Services business, focusing on strategic planning, innovative marketing strategies, M&As, and building industry relationships. He was twice named a rising industry star by Travel Agent magazine.
TRO: What first inspired you to work in the travel industry?
I have spent my entire adult life, and some of my teen years, in the travel industry. When I was a teenager I picked up my first airline timetable and saw that Pan Am flew all over the world; both mundane and exotic destinations I had never heard of and from that moment I was hooked. I started a summer job at Brainard Travel in downtown Cleveland delivering tickets and wearing a sandwich board advertising that week’s specials on the corner of 13th and Euclid Ave.
TRO: Tell us about your role at ABC Global Services.
I purchased the company this past May. Since that time, I have been very much focused on developing new relationships and products that will allow us to offer enhanced services to our travel agent customers. I have been especially focused on planning our phase 2 enhancements of ezBookbyABC.com, our unique hotel booking platform.
TRO: What types of services does ABC offer?
ABC is focused on providing our corporate, leisure, and at home agents with a variety of hotel solutions for their and their customer’s benefit. For example, for our GDS clients we offer our Preferred Hotel Program (PHP) that offers discounts and/or amenities at almost 33,000 hotels, including a luxury amenity program and a true block space program. While for our at home agents we offer ezBookbyABC.com, the most robust B2B hotel booking platform aggregating rates and inventory from ABC, GDS, Expedia, Priceline, GTA and HotelBeds.com offering commissions ranging from 8% to 15%. Plus nets and agents can add a service fee regardless of the inventory they book.
TRO: What is ABC’s relationship with travel agents?
Everything we do, in fact the only thing we do, is develop and offer services for the travel agency community. With seven sales people plus our dedicated help line, we are always focused on expanding our already strong relationships throughout the agency community.
TRO: What have you found to be the most useful aspect of ABC’s service for travel agents?
When it comes to ezBookbyABC.com it is hard to say which feature agents find most useful: the 200,000 plus hotels, the range of commission options, or the ability to add their own markup, etc. However, if I had to pick one it would be our SuperSearch feature . Our SuperSearch feature enables agents to search one destination and receive an aggregated return of multiple inventory sources (ABC, GDS, OTA and Nets) in one search return: providing agents with maximum flexibility and maximum earning opportunity.
TRO: ABC’s range of influence is global with over 32,000 locations in 160 countries. What has contributed to its expanding success?
I haven’t been here long enough to take any credit for ABC’s success. The simple reality is that ABC has been around since 1978 and many on our team have a long tenure with the company. In fact three members of our team have been here longer than 20 years. It is these folks who have built long-term relationships, based on trust and delivering growth for our hotel partners, who deserve credit for the ongoing success of ABC.
TRO: Why should travel agents make the decision to subscribe to ABC Global Services?
Whether an agent operates on the GDS or our ezBookbyABC.com platform, ABC provides the right balance of hotel options, commissions, amenities and support that makes them more effective at their jobs and ensures their clients are well taken care of. More than anyone else in the business we provide extensive support through our sales team and support desk, which is open six days a week.
TRO: What does it mean to be an ABC Global Supplier?
I can share what many hoteliers told me when I joined ABC: they respect that in all of our dealings we are fair, honest, and understand that it is by working together that we can deliver the best value proposition for agents and their customers – which in turn, grows their revenue.
TRO: Do you have any advice for struggling hotels?
One thing we see frequently is that struggling hotels haven’t invested in long-term relationship building with the agency community and instead are too dependent on the OTA’s. More often than not, delivering a lower-yielding customer. The agency community has proven time and again it is a great partner for those hotels who show reciprocal support.
TRO: Is there any news on the horizon for ABC Global Services?
Lot’s of great items in the pipeline! For ezBookbyABC.com we will be rolling out a number of new enhancements in the New Year that will increase the agent’s productivity. We are also looking at adding an additional inventory source or two. For our GDS clients we will also be launching a group and meeting planning service and a commission collection product. Engaging our entrepreneurial spirit, free from a large corporate parent, has generated more ideas than we can accomplish in the near term, but there will be lots of great initiatives coming in the future.