The People of RateHawk: Interviews to Mark Our Birthday

The People of RateHawk: Interviews to Mark Our Birthday

To celebrate the company’s birthday, we decided to lift the veil of secrecy just a little and ask our lovely hawks six questions about their life and work.

From left to right: Felix Shpilman — CEO of Emerging Travel Group, Marta Ladutko — Director of Commercial Operations, Tony Guastella — Regional Director, Northwestern Europe, Davide Amaro — Regional Director, Southern Europe, Serkan Ozbay — Regional Director of Middle East, Nils Proschek — Head of Business Development DACH.

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How did your journey with RateHawk begin?

Felix Shpilman: My journey with RateHawk began when we were sitting in a closet with our CCO and another employee as we were trying to come up with a name for the new international b2b business that we were starting within the group. The development team had given us an aggressive timeline to launch, and we were under pressure to come up with something, otherwise, we would not be able to go to ATM (Arabian Travel Market), the first trade fair where we wanted to go with the new brand. So, we locked ourselves in a room and said that we would not come out of the room until the name was born. After a couple of hours of suffering, we were thinking: what’s unique about our product? We think that it finds great hotel rates just like a hawk finds its prey. And I said: RateHawk!

Marta Ladutko: I was the 5th employee to join RateHawk back in 2017 as a Business Development Manager. At that time, there were literally a few thousand active partners in a limited number of markets. Look at us now! Our team expanded multiple times into more than 80 markets worldwide. We have over 25K partners in more than 100 countries. Our product is localized into 19 languages—and this is only the beginning! Now, looking back on the past 5 years, I’m so excited about the future!

The RateHawk Warsaw Office Opening started with an official welcome speech and the opening ceremony performed by Felix Shpilman.

Felix Shpilman, Marta Ladutko and the RateHawk partner participated in the Ratehawk Warsaw Office Opening.

Tell us about your most unusual business trip?

Tony Guastella: It’s not really unusual, but it was only my second day on the job (October 2nd 2019) and I already had to travel to Porto for a Uniglobe conference and talk about RateHawk and the current issues in the hotel industry! That’s what I call a fast start and it was a sign of things to come.

Davide Amaro: It was last year when I travelled to Italy to attend a trade show. I met the entire Italian RateHawk team in person for the first time after one year of working together. Being with colleagues you have never met can be awkward, no matter if the company culture is already well-established remotely. It’s simply not the same as being in person. But, when we met, it was like we had known each other forever. This was one of the most unusual, but definitely one of my favorite business trips.

Davide Amaro with the RateHawk stand at DIT Gestion in Spain, a convention for 850 travel agencies.

Where did you most want to travel to during the pandemic?

Felix Shpilman: I am used to traveling across Europe. Being locked in an apartment during the pandemic was definitely an uncomfortable stay, so I really missed my European trips. I can’t wait to be back on the road again and to see partners and spend time with my local teams.

Serkan Ozbay: During the pandemic, I wanted to travel to Kaş, Antalya, Turkey, the most because of my passion for free diving.

Serkan Ozbay and the Middle East RateHawk team meeting.

A long-awaited meeting of the Middle East RateHawk team.

What do you like the most about the team?

Nils Proschek: I like that we are all very focused and result-oriented. We are a strong team, and this is the foundation of a high-performing business. We have a good team ethic, which is the main reason for the success and smooth running of the D/A/CH region.

Serkan Ozbay: I like the passion, determination, and solidarity of the team, which is very rare to find in such large organizations like this. I also like how fast we can review ourselves and adapt to changes in the industry.

Marta Ladutko: The RateHawk team is a family. We all have different professional backgrounds and mentalities; we speak different languages and have different habits; we are spread around the world and grew up in different cultures. But, when we get together, we party hard to celebrate our unity and equality, because we are all one. We are RateHawk!

Marta Ladutko and the RateHawk team held the business breakfast together with the Transfer company i’way for travel agents in the Courtyard Hotel by Marriott in Prague.

What, in your opinion, will be the burning issues in the travel industry in 2022?

Davide Amaro: The current geo-political situation in Europe is a concern for several industries, and travel is one of the sectors, which could pay the highest price for yet another international crisis. Travelling is becoming more precious in 2022 as never before: when we started recovering from the pandemic, we saw an increase in the average transaction value and daily rate in our hotel bookings. Now, we are also seeing an increase in ticket fares for flights due to the surge in fuel prices. So far, though, “travel starved” consumers seem willing to pay up. I hope that all the suffering, hate, and destruction we are witnessing today will come to an end soon, and that our political leaders will finally work together to build a more sustainable and peaceful world.

Tony Guastella: Sustainability and reduced carbon footprints, especially in business travel. More and more corporate travelers and TMCs will want this possibility.

Rising travel costs will also be a test for the traveler, a traveler who is already suffering from high energy prices and increasing inflation in general.

I’m always very positive, but we still should bear in mind the possible risk of travel restrictions returning again. We’ve thought in the past that we were out of the pandemic only for a new variant to rear its head. This is probably less likely now, but we shouldn’t be complacent. Also, in terms of restrictions, there can be regional variations globally.

Tony Guastella and the NW Europe Regional team met in Warsaw for a business/team building event.

The NW Europe Regional team meeting in Warsaw.

What would you like to wish for our brand in our 7th year?

Nils Proschek: First of all, congratulations to everyone—our team and our partners from all sides, and our investors! It has not been an easy journey, especially in the last two years. But, let’s look forward to the best in the coming years. We started small, but today, we are among the market leaders in many countries (we are already number one in some of them). Congratulations on all your efforts and achievements!

Serkan Ozbay: I wish RateHawk’s fast growth to continue, unity as a family, and to keep dreaming of the impossible becoming true.

Felix Shpilman: As always, I want to wish RateHawk more growth, more markets, more partners, more employees, and more complexity, that we navigate on behalf of our partners. I think RateHawk is doing phenomenally well, and I want to wish the team to continue to innovate, grow, and surprise the world with our innovative product ideas!

Nils Proschek and the regional leaders of RateHawk in Northwestern Europe gathered in our Warsaw office to discuss their plans, share know-how from their respective markets, and, of course, get to know each other better.

We add our names to these wishes, and believe that all our plans and targets will come to fruition because we have your support. Thank you for choosing RateHawk!

Six years of operations and endless gratuitude to our partners!

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