Jean-Marc Dandurand – Country Manager, ATPI France
The France country manager of ATPI, a world leader in travel management, discusses the transformation of the French subsidiary from an operational base to a fully integrated commercial entity. He also highlights the importance of the oil and gas sector to his company’s prospects for growth.
The French subsidiary was established in 2005 following the acquisition of the company MTV. What have been the major developments and milestones of the French subsidiary of ATPI since its creation?
ATPI France was established in 2005 after winning an important contract. We indeed at that time completed the acquisition of a French firm called MTV, which specialized in pharmaceuticals. The subsidiary was initially mainly dedicated to events but also corporate travel. At the time the French agency constituted an operational base.
ATPI’s philosophy consists in consolidating the group’s activity internationally before opening new offices. ATPI therefore establishes partnerships with global players prior to winning contracts on behalf of local actors. In 2012, in light of the positive results achieved by our subsidiary, the group decided to transform it into a commercial base with the objective of becoming a prominent Travel Management Company (TMC) in France. A commercial team was therefore dispatched in order to progressively integrate the French market. Today, ATPI generates most of its revenues thanks to its oil and gas activity.
In 2013, ATPI France achieved a turnover of approximately USD 40 million. You boasted remarkable figures in 2014 with a 20 percent growth rate. What is the outlook for 2015? Are you planning on continuing the hiring waves, which you introduced in the last few years?
The outlook for 2015 differs greatly from previous years in light of the economic downturn. In 2013 and 2014 we implemented a key commercial strategy. We focused on local corporations with global scopes and global companies managed at the local level. A key element of our success resides in our capacity to deliver the same services to customers irrespective of their location and size. As a result we can manage a UK client from Paris and so on. Within this context, the Paris office manages several projects, in Europe and Africa notably. ATPI has since decided to focus its strategy on adapting each local entity to this major milestone in the company’s development. The impact of this acquisition is particularly interesting for France because in 2014 Griffin had purchased a travel agency located in Antibes. This TMC in the south of France, which belonged to Griffin, has now been merged with ATPI France, making us a major TMC player on the French domestic market.
ATPI has been involved in the energy sector for more than 25 years. Today, France is the second exporter of offshore support services in the world while the French offshore market size is close to $18 billion. What role does ATPI France play in the offshore sector? Moreover, when you win a project with an offshore project with a French client, does the French subsidiary exclusively conduct the project or is it a joint-effort with offices in proximity to the operations?
ATPI France is very young, and despite our promising results, it does not represent a significant portion of the global group’s turnover. As I mentioned earlier, the French office was only transformed into a commercial base in 2012. We are growing carefully and progressively and have now become the 7th largest branch of the group. Our main clients in the oil and gas industry are multinational corporations, which explains why even the French office does not exclusively focus on French customers. The Paris office initially experienced difficulties in raising awareness on its presence in the French market. Many of our clients were unaware of our existence. We participate in trade shows and festivals to market ourselves but we recognize that it’s a slow process that must be addressed with patience. We use our connections earned via different affiliates and rely on customer networks and customer testing products. We depend on these elements of communication to increase our visibility and highlight our expertise in the oil and gas sector. For instance, the larger access to offshore and marine airfare toward airline companies, differentiates us from our main competitors.
If a customer is a global player, we combine our strengths stemming from various local entities to provide the most cost-effective solutions. If a client operates in a foreign country that is home to one of our subsidiaries we obviously rely extensively on the latter. ATPI’s approach consists in developing solutions from a global perspective before integrating local considerations. This philosophy enables the French office to deliver solutions to a client travelling from Lagos to Houston for instance. Most of our competitors do not subscribe to this strategy and therefore do not hold the expertise or sufficient information to assist a client outside of France.
This specialization in the offshore industry has enabled ATPI to earn the trust of oil and gas companies. You recently unveiled new developments to the ATPI crewhub technology platfor. What is the importance of technology in delivering cost effective solutions to your ever so demanding clients?
ATPI focuses on duty of care, which symbolizes the way a CEO wishes to travel whether onshore or offshore. A CEO is responsible for the team he chooses to dispatch on a mission and therefore relies on ATPI to produce the best services in relation to safety and prevention. Within this perspective, we devoted our efforts to build ATPI technologies dedicated to ensure safer travels for our customers. The ATPI crew hub technology allows HR managers to monitor all the travelers sent to platforms, rigs and exploration sites. Additionally, it enables us to gather all the information from our database in one location. Another very useful tool is our employee tracking system which manages all the information related to a project at any precise moment: in one click you can see how many employees working for your customer are on board in the same plane and later on if they have safely arrived to their destinations and registered in their hotels.
Your services comprise solutions delivered in remote locations and harsh environments. What types of actions do you implement to ensure safe operations?
Our ability to deliver services under these conditions constitutes our main added value. If our company were only responsible for ticket booking it would be completely undermined by the Internet. We ensure the right price at the right time for our clients operating in very difficult environments. One of our popular solutions is called crew rotation service. On these rigs, teams of 25 engineers rotate one after the other. However the transition from a team to the next can be jeopardized by a storm for instance, in which case we immediately deal with repercussions in terms of accommodation and transport. We rely on creative fairing to offer the best prices at unexpected times. Anyone can get a cheap ticket by booking 6 months in advance. We use proprietary tools to have access to global airfare databases and propose the most adapted classes and rates available at a global level.. Another key service we propose in line with our commitment to duty-of-care is a home-made 24 hour monitoring service, which enables us to provide the same quality of service at any time of the day, even when our offices are closed. Our customers therefore do not feel like they are receiving a service of lower quality because they are travelling at nighttime for instance.
The TMC sector has been subject to an online revolution in recent years coupled with increasing competition and a timid economic recovery. What is your strategy to address these challenges?
The Internet enables travelers to book tickets. Other tools in regards to traveling flexibility are limited. We do offer this service, but our main competitive advantage is our ability to take different factors and parameters in consideration before preparing the best solutions for our client’s international journeys. Our role is to access information linked to fares in order to offer the best fare at the best moment.
What can we wish ATPI France in the next years?
We definitely intend to raise awareness on our presence in France. Many clients in the offshore and marine sector are still unaware of the services we provide and we must therefore communicate better to ensure that every potential client seeking solutions we provide, turn to us.