With the arrival of the internet, when airlines set up their own websites and started selling tickets to their passengers directly, there was real fear in the travel industry. Everybody was talking about the end of business for travel agents and the global distribution systems (GDS) they relied on to book flight tickets.
It was unthinkable at the time that Amadeus - a GDS provider set up by four airlines in 1987 - would actually be expanding its operations, based on a slightly modified business model in the 21st century.
Amadeus offers an integrated front end to travel agents and tour operators, where they can book hotels, airlines, cars, insurance, and other travel products. More crucially, some 10 to 15 years ago, the company decided to develop information technology (IT) systems for airlines, which is now branded as Altea.
"Globally, we manage reservations, inventory and the departure control systems for 115 international airlines, including Cathay Pacific and others," says Louis Lee, general manager of Amadeus Hong Kong.
Lee says there are tremendous opportunities for growth in the market, given that Hong Kong is part of China, and because the travel industry in Hong Kong is flexible, open-minded and forward thinking, making it easy to introduce new technologies.
"We have made a strong commitment to the industry and our customers and have a very solid value proposition. This is one of the key reasons why we are growing," Lee says. "The market sees a very significant future for Amadeus."
The company is hiring for newly created positions across several departments. Lee says he needs people with passion for the product and commitment to the company. During job interviews, he checks the applicants' attitude to gauge how they might handle problematic situations.
Most importantly, employees are expected to be honest and behave with integrity. "We are very strict about ensuring that people have the right work ethic," Lee says.
The company has a lot of interaction with the head office in Bangkok, where staff get the chance to fly twice or thrice a year. Lee says promotion opportunities are good, because the company is expanding. Long-serving staff can also apply for a position at the regional office.
For an entry-level position as a sales account manager, applicants should have four years' sales experience in the travel industry, airlines, travel agencies or other GDS providers. To be head of sales, eight to 10 years of experience is needed.
The IT team is also hiring a programmer and an engineer with "project management skills, people skills, and [who can] understand change management," Lee says.
The most specialised of jobs are in operations. Candidates should know about ticketing, fares and pricing, have a technical background, and be able to train staff and clients, Lee adds