We talked to Alberto Desimone of Kiu about technology for airlines, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alberto Desimone: All good for now, maintaining all protocols. However, I have not stopped attending the office since this pandemic began. We cannot stop now.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Kiu.
Alberto Desimone: I started in the industry many years ago when my brothers and I founded a wholesale tour operator, which became one of the top 5 largest tour operators in Argentina.
Later, we took the concession of the ”Train to the Clouds”, one of the four most important tourist destinations in Argentina. After developing these two businesses, the only thing missing was to venture into the airline industry, and we founded our first airline, Dinar Airlines, a regular / charter airline that had 40 international and regional routes, covering 25% of the Argentine regular market and 70% of the charter, with up to 100 weekly flights. In later years, we decided that the best option was to sell our airline, and we sold it to the American group Falcon Air.
When we operated in Dinar, we used a legacy reservation system, which we realized was taking a high percentage of profits just for distribution. We understood that the market needed a more accessible system. With this vision of the market’s needs, we decided to create our own reservation system, and from there Kiu was born. Kiu means Knowledge In Use because 90% of KIU’s members come from various airlines or similar systems, so we know what the business needs, which has been reflected in our tool.
How does Kiu innovate?
Alberto Desimone: We have created our systems with modern technology, and we have all our software hosted on the cloud (Amazon Cloud), allowing our clients to access efficient and lower-cost tools. Regarding the business model, although Kiu has PSS and GDS with the same operability and functionality as legacy systems, we understand that part of the success of our company is that we have always kept up to date with industry trends.
Apart from this, we are currently working on different projects such as Machine Learning (ML) & Artificial Intelligence (AI), a strong emphasis on personalization of the Customer Experience and real-time data-driven in order to offer Retailing + Anytime + Anywhere + Any Channel + Any Device.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Alberto Desimone: This pandemic has affected the entire world in different ways, but the airline industry remains at the top of the most affected industries with having spent more than 10 months without regular activity. In Kiu, our main source of income is taken from the cost per boarded passenger, and since there are no passengers, we do not generate any type of revenue, but the accumulated financial capacity of these years has allowed us to overcome the crisis until 2022. However, this has been a record year for our company, which, even under the circumstances, has managed to close more than 17 contracts so far this year and made 100% remote implementations in record time.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alberto Desimone: Throughout my career as an entrepreneur, I have experienced circumstances equal to or more drastic than the current ones; these difficult situations have made me understand that in crisis situations, temperance, resilience, and confidence in one’s own strength are basic elements for taking action. One must make decisions on time, or time decides for you.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Alberto Desimone: I believe that the experience of another crisis and always understanding that there are alternative ways to overcome difficulties has helped me to manage stress and anxiety.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alberto Desimone: The market is divided into 2 profiles, the legacy systems and the new generation ones. Our goal is to be #1 of the new generation systems, and we have only lost three customers to the leaders, and 50 companies have come to the hands of another supplier. This encourages us and gives us the strength to achieve the goal. Our objective is not only to survive but also to expand our business globally, which we are already doing, and our reality today is one of frank growth and market capture.
Your final thoughts?
Alberto Desimone: Although this current crisis situation has not only made us reaffirm that we were on the right track, it has also shown that our entire team has the professional capacity, readjustment, hunger, and commitment to achieve our goal. For those of us who run the company, this is our best lesson from this crisis.
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