APEX Insight: Financially fortified and fronted by new CEO Mike Abramsky, a rebuilt and privately owned Guestlogix is keen to focus on the future, with a new image and new business model where airlines own retail data and customer relationships. Abramsky previously led the turnaround of ARGUS Software, a global provider of fintech solutions, with a revenue growth of over 60 percent and a surge from 32 to 1000 clients – in just 3 years. And now he’s at it again with Guestlogix.
Mike, welcome to the passenger experience industry. What’s the current state of Guestlogix?
Nine months ago, Guestlogix was acquired by an investor group interested in the company and the opportunity it represented. They invested capital to make it healthy from a financial point of view, so we’re a private company now. Our focus over the last nine months has been to build on both the legacy of the business and the capability to achieve our mission of leadership in the industry.
How would you like the market to view Guestlogix today?
The vision of the investors is all about a go-forward strategy, to lead the market and to make investments that leverage the position the business still holds, which – with 30 significant global clients – is a full technology platform which can be built upon, and a series of relationships from being a known name in the market.
Let’s talk about the rebranding. What was the thinking behind the new, softer image?
Branding and websites are so much more than just branding – they represent how you engage with clients and the position your clients have about the value you bring to the market. It’s not just a superficial effort to change from the past – it’s in fact a reflection of our strategy to become synonymous with solutions that empower airlines and other travel partners.
We think the app is very modern and signifies both a business and consumer-friendly approach. The colors and the feel reflect the type of branding you see in companies that have used technology to bring new value to the market.
Can you elaborate on that? How are you going to bring value to airlines?
Everyone has a smartphone and they probably have Uber and Amazon on there. Every consumer has become used to a fast and personalized user experience with relation to those companies. That doesn’t exist yet on an airline! We believe it’s the future.
It’s inevitable that this is the way people will engage [with airlines]. And not just through airline apps, not the way the app alone traditionally has been done, because you only use your airline app occasionally, but on a regular basis as part of the travel journey.
“Everyone has a smartphone and they probably have Uber and Amazon on there … That doesn’t exist yet on an airline! We believe it’s the future.” – Mike Abramsky, Guestlogix
We think the conditions are now ripe for that evolution to happen for airlines very quickly, because you have connectivity, BYOD on aircraft and consumers who are used to that kind of experience with e-commerce.
Is Guestlogix primarily a payment solution provider?
We’re much more than that, and that’s why the brand changed. If you go to our website now, you can see we are enabling a ‘consumerized’ passenger experience, whether through flight attendants or directly to consumers.
A lot of engagement and preordering is being done through mobile apps. It’s a huge opportunity for airlines because it allows for a higher level of revenue generation and higher engagement throughout the passenger journey.
Competitors have been using the past few months to gain ground and go after some of Guestlogix’s clients. What are you doing to stay competitive?
There’s a new way people are wanting to shop and engage and be entertained on board. Our aim is to be there first and to stay there. Some of our competitors have been acquired by caterers, and in our view, that restricts innovation and pace – which is what consumers expect.
Why would you take what is an important capability in terms of marketing and selling and having a relationship with your passenger and turn that over to your caterers every two years? You want to own the capability, own the data, optimize how you sell, just as with your passenger reservation system or anything else is strategic.
So Guestlogix isn’t looking to own this relationship either, they’re just looking to facilitate the transactions?
The airline owns the data; the airline makes the choices. Our value proposition is three very simple elements: Generate the most ancillary revenue in the industry; generate the most passenger loyalty; and be the easiest to use and easiest to implement. This is what’s driving our entire product roadmap.
Are there any retail models you’re adopting, from Amazon or Zalando?
Absolutely. There’s an expression: ‘Great artists steal.’ Obviously, we’re not doing anything unethical, it’s more that this isn’t rocket science. Some of those folks are now working for us, which is exactly why we’re different.
How are you letting everybody know you’re back and you’re different now?
Word of mouth travels fast in this market, so client success is the most important marketing tool we have and that’s where we’re focusing our efforts.