Inside Look: Tom Kingston
Every month we speak to a different member of the CTM team to find out what makes them tick.
This time it's Tom Kingston's turn in the spotlight.
What’s your role Tom & how long have you been working here?
I’m Head of Online Development at CTM and have been here for nearly 4 years now.
Tell us a little bit about your background, what were you doing before joining CTM?
Joining CTM was my first foray into the world of travel. Prior to joining the team here at CTM I worked with a number of London based PR, publicity, and communications companies – primarily focusing on clients with e-commerce or digital communications needs.
On an average day, what do you spend most of your time doing?
Anyone working in travel will agree – no two days are ever the same or at all predictable! Working with over 400 suppliers and several hundred clients in countless different industries gives me something new to get my teeth into eevry day. My job is primarily focussed around supervising day-to-day of online transactions, making sure our system is meeting client requirements, and engaging with new partners to ensure we are matching our technology to their needs.
Which specific skills does the job require?
Day-to-day: a knowledge of basic web and programming languages, the ability to troubleshoot problems and accurately scope out what partners and suppliers are looking for, and the ability to manage a lot of spreadsheets!
As well as the day-to-day, manging travel technology requires constant engagement with new suppliers and initiatives across the market, a vision for what we need to achieve to meet the next generation of client expectations and the ability to manage development schedules and projects to deliver them.
And what are the main challenges?
With hundreds of suppliers all providing information in different formats and at different times making sure our system balances response time, breadth of choice, and competitive pricing requires constant monitoring and development. The constantly shifting landscape of pricing in the travel industry also means we always need to be on top of any changes our partners make to their products.
Can you tell us about a time when you went ‘the extra mile’ for one of CTM’s clients, or about a specific problem which you solved for a client / partner and how?
The public sector in the UK is constantly looking to drive down the cost of procurement and spend management. One of these initiatives is adopting an ‘emarketplace’ to allow all orders to be approved by an organisation’s managers before the order is confirmed, then passing it directly into their finance system / accounts payable without lengthy human intervention.
We worked initially with Wrexham County Borough Council to fully integrate our Online Booking Tool with their emarketplace, saving them time and money on their booking process without having to adopt any new or external systems. We were then able to roll this out to the entire Public Sector in Wales via the National Procurement Service framework.
What do we offer which makes us stand out? In your view, why do our clients choose us over any other TMC?
We are really lucky with our in-house resources. Not only do clients benefit from access to our own technology, which allows us to develop solutions to match each client’s requirements, they also have access to a team of seasoned travel agents (instead of some external call centre) with up to 30 years’ experience each, and the expertise of our wider group’s presence (P&P Associates) in the leisure and wholesale parts of the travel Industry.
What is it about the job that you most enjoy?
Everyone at CTM genuinely cares for the business and our service. A lot of companies might pay lip-service to the idea of putting the customer first, but at CTM every development, process, and initiative put in place is focused around improving our service. Being able to play with cutting edge technology before it gets to the public is fun too!
Are there any particularly interesting projects you’re working on, either at the moment or on the horizon?
Our management team, especially our Managing Director Jackie Lacey, always has another great idea or initiative we’d love to see come to fruition – a lot of these ideas come directly from discussions with our clients.
Currently I’m working on a brand new way to get our technology to market, a ground breaking first in how to retail holidays, and the integration of some cutting edge developments that no other travel agency in the UK has access to yet – so watch this space!