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Otto de Vries


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Otto de Vries


I have twenty-five years experience in the travel industry, 17 of those in senior management roles. I'm a strategic thinker with experience in managing businesses, start-ups, business transformation and projects. Strong commercial acumen. I acquired valuable management experience working both locally and abroad. I have extensive experience in operations, sales and marketing and a well-rounded background in contract management and product development.

Specialties: Leading people,strategic planning and implementation, business operations, efficiencies and processes. Change management, turnarounds, mergers, consolidations, system roll outs and adoption.

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Professional details

Current Position(s)

Board Member | Tourism Business Council of South Africa
2013 - present

TBCSA is the umbrella organisation representing organised businesses in the South African travel and tourism industry. Our mandate is to lobby the public sector, facilitate identified industry programmes, monitor and influence macro-economic developments which impact on the industry for the purpose of building the pride, economy and the identity of our desti(nation).

VISION: To be the trusted, respected and informed VOICE of organised tourism businesses in South Africa.
MISSION: By engaging and influencing industry stakeholders and government on behalf of organised tourism businesses.

2013 - present

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents, simply known as ASATA, was formed in 1956. Its founders created a representative forum in the industry to promote professional service with security for both Members and their clients. As a Section 21 Company not for profit, membership of ASATA is entirely voluntary and extends to South African Retail Travel Agents, Travel Management Companies and Wholesalers. A Partners section for those suppliers of travel related products to the industry also exists. Currently the Membership represents more than 85% of the industry including the head offices of most of the major brands.

ASATA’s emphasis is on free trade without violating rules and regulations. Accordingly we have entrenched a Constitution and a Code of Conduct that self-regulates the travel industry and provides the consumer with a benchmark and the comfort that the Members are compliant with ASATA’s guidelines. As an indicator of the effect of our governance processes, more than 97% of the complaints we receive from the Consumer relate to non-ASATA members!

ASATA is administered by a full-time Secretariat headed by a Chief Executive Officer, with the day-to-day functions being monitored by a Members Council and its continued role and direction are guided by a Board of Directors. All the Members of the Regional Committee’s, Council and Board are elected by the Members at an Annual General Meeting.

The Association interfaces with key opinion leaders in the industry and senior Government officials in representing its Members on all issues of common interest to ASATA Members. This includes policy, planning, operational and regulatory issues ensuring the ongoing sustainability of the travel industry.

Board Member | World Travel Agents Association Alliance
2013 - present

The WTAAA is the single global voice facilitating the exchange of ideas and information to the global agency community.
WTAAA interacts with supply partners; airlines, GDS companies, government agencies representing and lobbying on issues on its members behalf. It also mediates with IATA on the global council representing 8 global market associations which constitute more than 70% of global airline sales.

Previous Position(s)

Travel Operations Manager | COMAIR LIMITED
2012 - 2012

Transportation and Logistics

As a consolidation of the Travel Ancillary businesses, Holiday Tours, Kulula Holidays and Ancillaries, GoTravel24, Harvey World Holiday Travel, res24seven fulfillment and white label partners, day to day operations now fall under my responsibility. This department handles the contracting and creating product, fulfilling, loading rates and related content, managing product within the systems, liaising with marketing and managing the performance of margins and costs against budget.

Director | Holiday Tours
2009 - 2012

Director and Board member. Holiday Tours has been operating as a leading specialist outbound and domestic wholesale tour operator for almost four decades, longer than any similar organization in the country.

Today Holiday Tours is the only wholesale tour operator in South Africa offering real time quoting and booking tools for selling leisure packages to high volume destinations. Our system offers access to live availability and provides travel agents with the ability to generate their own quotes, put bookings on hold and book and pay online; improving turnaround time, conversion rates and reducing the time spent communicating with the tour operator while increasing the time spent on servicing the client.

Holiday Tours - since 1976. Great Value. Reliable. Secure. Trusted

Sales and Marketing Director | African Envoys
2008 - 2009

Consumer Goods, Fashion and Retail

African Envoys is a personal and bespoke representation company. We specialise in Africa and our portfolio includes exceptional boutique-style establishments, located in stunning parts of this diverse continent. They are small, privately owned, unique hotels and lodges, recommended for their location, impeccable service, and the experience that they offer to all that have the privilege to stay with them.

Senior Sales Africa & Indian Ocean | Thika Travel
2006 - 2007

Appointed to set-up an English language ex pat division within the company as part of the sales growth strategy.

Entrepreneur / Consultant, Johannesburg, SA & London, UK | Various
2004 - 2006

Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations

•Consultant to NURO interactive (niche marketing company). Leveraging opportunities by profiling online members of a 20-something community website.
•Consulted to and carried out the setting up of a black empowerment tour operator, including product development for this niche operation.
•Managed (part-time) my restaurant in Fourways.
•Developed and hosted various music-related events in Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
•Handled the client services management of a website revamp for Digital Data Analysis, a marketing focused, data analysis company based in central London.
•Marketing representation work for Shongololo Express in Europe. (London based).

Sales and Brand Manager | Shongololo Express
2002 - 2004

Operations Manager | American Express Inbound/ Sunbound Incentives
1999 - 2001

Product & Contracting Manager | Holiday Africa
1995 - 1997

Educational history


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