Journal: TWUKSection:
Title: Issue Date: 12/06/00
Author: Page Number: 27
Copyright: Other

A week in the life of Jo Rzymowska

Travel Internet start-up launches this month. Commercial director Jo Rzymowska charts its progress in a newregular column.

If you had told me a year ago I would be working for a dot-com company, I probably would have laughed, yet within 72hrs of meeting the board of back in November last year, I had joined the company.

I was the first employee as commercial director and suddenly found myself in the situation of not having an office, not having any playmates and being completely externally focused – quite a change! My prime role was to go out and get the deals. Within two weeks of joining, I was at ABTA meeting all the operators and presenting our proposition – to provide the consumer with true independence and choice. Seven months later and close to launch, my working week pans out like this-


A management meeting at 8am. There was a long debate about the recent negative press about dot coms. We all agreed that failures are down to an immature management team, a weak business model and poor technology. We originally intended to launch at the end of last month but decided to postpone for a few weeks to rectify the bugs that have been emerging during testing. Only when we are 100% certain we can deliver against our proposition and more will we go live. Those final tweaks as a result of consumer feedback in our testing phase will make all the difference to the consumer – the decision was made.


In at 8am again to meet Esther Sparrow, our product manager, to see how the product was looking on the site. Although the product information is sent to us electronically, every single property and resort needs to be matched against a set of more than 31 criteria – a longer process than we expected, coupled with the techies and I speaking a different language but we get there in the end.


Long-term planning meeting to discuss phase two development for the site. I am negotiating hard to get specialist holidays such as ski and cruise included but the criteria for booking is completely different so it’s going to take time. Choosing the right cruise is a complex business and booking one is even more complex. These are challenges but it makes the day interesting.


We could finally announce our deal with, the first in a series of business-to-business deals, which will give us a large customer base from the onset. This was perfect timing for several critical discussions with tour operators today which meant running between Crawley, Heathrow and London with meetings on the mobile in between. The day finished at 11pm after dinner with a potential operator. The feedback on the business-to-business deals is very positive – a good day overall.


As part of a mature management team, I’m off to Dublin this weekend to celebrate a big O birthday with friends that I have known since I was 10 years old. I won’t tell you which big O it is but leave you guessing.