Life at Expedia Group Blog
One Week With Raphael Verdure
Name: Raphael Verdure
Job title: Manager, Connectivity Account Management & President of Sustainable and Green at Expedia Group (SAGE)
Team: Core-OTA Lodging Connectivity, Lodging Account Management
Working Location: Geneva, Switzerland
My name is Raphael and I lead an Account Management team in the connectivity space.
Since I joined EG eight years ago, I have had the opportunity to work in a couple of different teams at EG including Market Management and Car Rental supply at Egencia. For the last four years I’ve been based in Geneva working in Lodging Connectivity. This involves working closely with hotel software providers that are either connected to or want to connect to the EG platform through APIs. It is a perfect match between business & tech.
On a personal note, I’m happily married, and we are parents to Agathe (3.5) and Louis (1.5). Becoming a parent and living in Geneva, has turned out to be quite a turning point for me. Living somewhere that is surrounded by such stunning nature I often found myself asking, ‘where is our planet going?’ Over time, the drive to answer this question led me to become involved in SAGE, where I’m now volunteer President.
The aim of SAGE is to build awareness around this topic and support EG in its mission to innovate a more sustainable travel experience for all.
The To Do List
Monday, I like to keep to a routine, and it’s all about the organization…
- Checking any emergencies that were raised over the weekend
- Opening the many trackers for each project/team I work on/with
- Prioritizing and actioning
September is such a great time to be in the office: everyone is feeling good after a nice summer break and with tons of stories to tell! A perfect occasion to grab lunch and chat with my friend and colleague from the Competitive Intelligence team!
I’m also meeting with a local NGO to investigate sustainability options for Month of Caring in Geneva. They focus on re-greening cities, which is a crucial aspect of sustainability, and I have few ideas:
- Plogging: picking up litter while jogging
- Re-greening Geneva city with plants – my favourite idea
- Create rooftops pergolas to cool down the environment
After pizza, I’m (virtually) meeting with the Core-OTA Connectivity Leadership teams, including account management and our sister team Technical Relationship Management. Having both sales and sales engineers meet in this way means that we have a good global spread.
A Two-Hat Job
There are two aspects to my job:
- Leading a team of account managers, helping them to thrive and get the most out of our partnerships with connectivity software providers.
- Representing the Connectivity team in various programs/meetings etc. where connectivity is involved or discussed in some shape or form.
This morning is dedicated to my team, organizing our priorities, and joining our team meeting virtually.
One topic raised is an unusual situation where a small-but-promising provider has bought a larger provider. This is an interesting and exciting challenge for connectivity. Generally, those acquisitions happen the other way round, so we’ll have to manage this partnership transition thoughtfully, and be sensitive to the balance between the two partners.
While in the office at lunch, I meet with people from teams I don’t usually work with, I always find meeting new people from across EG inspiring, particularly when I think about how we can build synergies with each other.
In the afternoon, both my meetings center around two critical topics:
- Acquisition of new connectivity providers – handled by my team – aligned with Vrbo, and Geo focus priorities.
- Defining our Connectivity Partner Program for 2023. As always, our aim is to unlock maximum value for our partners and for EG.
Awareness is key
Working from home today, and with such nice summer weather, the view from my desk is great! I really love this nature.
Yesterday I had a late call for SAGE. A big part of what we do is working on improving the recycling effort in our offices by building awareness. Not super sexy I know, but important, nonetheless. It’s quite a complicated topic to work on, as laws and solutions vary from one location to another. Good news though, the Facilities leadership team is onboard and supportive in terms of a joint effort. First thing this morning: send the recap email to keep the momentum!
Today I also want to focus on how to raise and maintain awareness about connectivity. It is a pivotal element within EG, simplifying lodging partners’ life so they can focus on how to best welcome travelers in their properties. Sometimes connectivity is seen as a complex topic and a source of issues…but it’s not true.
We want to demystify this idea, evangelize about connectivity, and make people feel more confident when talking about it. Currently we’re designing an internal training program that should help us with this.
There are some similarities between connectivity and sustainability: it is all about building awareness… a big part of my role at EG.
One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.
And that day arrives…my daughter’s first day of school. What an emotional rollercoaster… I feel her balanced between fear and excitement, in observation mode, silent. An adult behavior somehow…it’s also another life milestone ticked. Wow!
Today I’m also joining a Geneva committee meeting in the office, to discuss the topic of the moment: Month of Caring. The sustainability-related opportunity will offer Geneva employees a chance to re-green the city with plants and flowers, and it’s something I’m really excited about. I’ll be leading this initiative and the registration will open for Geneva colleagues soon.
In three steps we will:
- Track unmaintained areas in the city
- Make ready-to-plant seed balls
- Walk the city to plant the balls in the listed areas
Next, I’m jumping on a train to Paris, France. I’m often there, it’s the place where I grew up, and where I was hired to begin my EG journey … 8 years ago, what a ride…!
While on the train, I take a moment to reflect on my own career, what might come next, and how to shape the path to get there. I see my career as a partnership with EG, and one in which I’m happy to drive…I think the opportunities are there – it’s up to us to go get what’s next!
Once in Paris, I enjoy catching up in the office with a few former colleagues, and getting the pulse on how the business is going locally with Xavier Buisson, Area Manager based there.
Tonight, will be fun… I’m joining an after-work drinks get together with current and former EG colleagues… Almost all of us have taken different directions now, but we have two things in common: our passion for travel and having worked in the same team at EG, so lots to talk about.
We have a complex situation raised by the Market Management team.
Sometimes, certain EG distribution rules (that apply to all our hotel partners) are not clearly understood by a hotel’s software system. This can cause issues when both systems ‘talk’ to each other.
It’s common for this to be identified at first as a connectivity problem. However, with a bit of investigating, it is often the ambiguity of the rule that is the issue. We need to raise this issue with the tech teams, as our role is the bridge between the business team – Market Management – and the technical team. To find the solution we also need to know who owns the rule.
This afternoon, we get some hopeful news about SAGE; we have been asked to create a budget request for 2023. Another great sign that SAGE is on the right path to get the same resources as other IBGs, – which was one of our key goals to achieve in 2022. We are convinced that we can bring this community to the next level with those resources. Consulting the SAGE LT for feedback and alignment – I am so thankful to have them with me in this bumpy ride -, we list our needs, calculate an estimate, submit… And cross fingers!
To end the week, I join my friends for a glass of rosé on a terrace.
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