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Early in 2019, Vipservice opened their first European office in Germany.
Around the same time, the team in Russia started active preparations to explore the German market and introduce their biggest technologica platform – Portbilet. The task of translating the system into another language was not just about linguistics – certificates and the technical base of the project had to be reinvented. Let's talk about the challenges on the way to globalization
and improvements within the system – in the interview with Yulia Braginskaya.
Yulia, where did the localization process of Portbilet in Germany start?
– It started with meeting our German colleagues. In Berlin, Vipservice bought a ready-made business, so we exchanged experience with our new office. We worked together actively starting from late January: we went on business trips, had daily calls on Skype and phone. We needed to understand specifics of the market, its needs, share lists of suppliers and details of commercial terms in order to see what we can offer to each other.
For example, in the process we found out that our clients will get an opportunity to order a multiticket for joint trips with the national railway carrier Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa airlines. Your profit will be up to 30% if you use it. Besides, we found out that there is such concept as the "Rolex fee", or a dynamic fee that German agents determine individually as the service fee. It is a good and useful tool for Portbilet regardless of the language.
We had to build the logic of taking fees for domestic flights, for example, Berlin–Munich, that was previously applied to Russian cities. And we included "national" discounts for German citizens, similar to subsidized tariffs in Russia.
So, our colleagues sent us a list of essential tasks that we are working on now.
What processes have you completed and which await ahead?
– It is important to understand that we have to build new architecture from scratch as well as knew technical solutions for Portbilet, according to the needs of the German market. The easiest task was to translate the platform into German – now subagents can use translated interface. We also introduced national currency – euro.
One of the most important areas is protection of personal data of our partners and their clients in the new market. We carefully read all requirements of the European law in this area and we are making sure the platform meets GDRP. The most difficult task was to interpret the requirements as accurately as possible. We hired many experts, from professional translators to German legal professionals.
We still have a lot of work to do in terms of accounting, payments, and document flow to have it comply with the German laws. The team of Portbilet also adapts price management and search tools of all products of the holding to the German market.
In addition to it, we organize customer service of the platform. Germany will have its own call center with German-speaking employess, while technical issues will be solved directly with Vipservice.
How do you estimate the chances of Portbilet in Germany, compared to existing services?
– Our size will allow us to present more attractive offers to German agents. Besides, we are far ahead in terms of technology. German services still do a lot of work manually: signing contracts, paying bills, etc. We have it all automated. Plus, Portbilet is a consolidated platform with all content in one place: plane tickets, car rental, hotel bookings, insurance, and more.
Another valuable advantage is White Label. Our platform can help agents build a multipart business, use bonuses to improve terms and conditions of working with suppliers and contracts of the holding?
Are there any new additions for the agents in the system?
– Portbilet is completing integration with Amadeus Content Rail. This service will give access to full railway content from many providers, including key destinations in East and West Europe, in a single interface. Soon, we will include lowcosters in our website. The service will help clients save money on flights. Besides, Portbilet will soon include a new hotel product by Vipservice – HotelStar. This solution will enrich hotel content of the platform, simplify the process of syncing new suppliers, work with direct contracts, and give new opportunities to our subagents. Besides, we are working on a project for extra flight services (luggage, meals, choice of seats).
We are making our portal transparent for agents and setting the online system in a way that the agent could see their fee for each offer. At the moment, no other platform in the market
can offer it. We have a lot of work in customer service. Our top pritority are projects of automation for customer center and after-sales service.
It is obvious that we will adapt several solutions from Portbilet Germany to other segments of the platform. It will increase the value of the product in the market.
In the past, you conducted a few customer satisfaction surveys regarding Portbilet. Do you continue the practice and what are the results?
– Yes, we still conduct regular surveys among users. Satisfaction research is an important part of our job because analysis of this data gives us a better understanding of needs and trends of the market to make Portbilet better. To a large extent, this is why our grades keep growing. In the last 6 months, our quality grade has raised from 4.4 to 4.7 on the scale of 5. It means that we are going in the right direction and we still have room for growth.