When Ritz Carlton manager-in-training Saskia de Jong was offered the chance to join online charter marketplace Avinode, the chance to marry a love of travel with luxury accommodation experience was too good to pass up.
What are your qualifications?
I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Hotel Management School Maastricht, in the Netherlands.
Of course, the real requirements of the business aviation industry extend far beyond qualifications on paper.
Every day, I need to be a relationship-builder and a problem-solver as well as understanding the technology involved in the aviation charter industry.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in aviation?
I have always had a passion for travel and used to work in the high-end service industry.
I started my post-college career with the Ritz Carlton in its manager-in-training programme. Its mission is to provide genuine care and exceptional products
and services, something that always stuck with me.
When I was given the opportunity to work for Avinode – a young innovative Swedish company specialising in the online business aircraft charter marketplace, it was the perfect synergy for me. An opportunity that was, therefore, too good to miss.
Tell us about your typical day
No day is typical of course, but I’d say I spend about a quarter of my time each year travelling to visit our members.
It’s very important to listen to their feedback and understand their needs, which can change, so we can raise our service to an even higher level. I’m committed to meeting all levels of staff among our key accounts.
C-suite executives are obviously important but I also need to understand the feelings and requirements of our day-to-day service users at any level.
When I am back in the office, I share my findings with my colleagues. We discuss everything, from product development such as mobile apps and APIs [application programming interfaces] and support, through to management resources to best meet our members’ expectations.
I need to make sure that I’m aware of how industry trends, and any other relevant intelligence, might impact on our business and our relationships with our members.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the challenge, and reward, of finding just the right service for our members.
If I hear a member has won several trips in the first few weeks of signing up with Avinode, that’s awesome news.
The Avinode development team works incredibly hard to develop new technology to meet changing market demands.
While our team is outstanding, nobody can produce miracles overnight, and sometimes I’m impatient for miracles to happen.
How do you develop new contacts?
I have three main approaches to developing contacts: face-to-face meetings when I am travelling, talking to people at trade shows, and through social media sites, particularly LinkedIn.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I enjoy working in business aviation and there is still so much potential to streamline processes in our industry.
I would love to be a part of that particular development.