Avinode / Noders / The Node
As Avinode’s resident Frenchman based in our Miami office, Philippe Villard manages the West and Southwest territories of the U.S. With a background in Luxury Hospitality, he travels frequently to visit Avinode members throughout this sunny region.
What road led you to Avinode?
I grew up on the Caribbean island of St-Martin and then I moved to study in Switzerland. Since then, I’ve lived in quite a few cities in Europe, North and South America, mostly working in hospitality management and distribution, with a short interlude in Oil & Gas. There are a lot of skills that I take away from my hospitality background that I use in sales, customer service, and in overall relationship-building with my clients.
How do you think luxury hospitality skills translate to your work now?
It’s a mindset of caring for clients, following up, making sure their experience at every touchpoint is one of excellent service. From the very first call, whether they’re a qualified lead or not, it’s about introducing them to Avinode in the best way possible.
If they become a member and come aboard, it’s important they know there is a whole organization dedicated to their success. Our support team and myself pay extra attention to making sure they are familiar with the system, that they are trained, and whenever there is an ounce of confusion, they know they can reach out to me at any time.
What do you focus on when meeting members face-to-face?
Every visit is an opportunity to learn more. Visiting clients is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job. My first goal is for them to know what Avinode is currently working on, as we’re known to frequently come out with new features. Gathering comments, wishes and challenges is a crucial part of the feedback loop that Avinode is built on, as it drives our innovation and aligns our priorities for development.
What are some of the biggest trends you’ve been picking up on lately as you’ve been speaking with Avinode members?
Competition is fierce, and the client profile is changing. Customers have a lot more access to their competitors and to jets in general. Technology has opened up private aviation to people who have never flown privately before.
We’re also seeing new business models emerge. Traditionally, private trips were priced as a round-trip — you book a plane, you go somewhere, and you send it back home. Now there is a series of operators that have figured out how to only charge for one-ways by experimenting with different ways of offsetting the costs of the empty leg.
Our members are building apps and platforms that are going to boost and expand the market as a whole. There have never been so many people flying private. This industry is being very creative about how it’s offering private flights.
Your follow-up trip reports are famous around in office, they read like little novelas.
Haha yes! I’m known for writing very colorful trip reports. They get very boring if you just put in bullet points and write headlines. I try to make them more fun. I paint a picture that would make them easier and more enticing to read. I will sprinkle in some details about the geography, the region and some historical facts about wherever I am.
You have English-speaking region, but does your French ever come in handy?
It does actually! Fun fact, I am the only French sales manager at Avinode. So when the Gothenburg office closes in the afternoon because of the time difference or during their break in the summer, I help a lot with the French customers that call in to our product support.
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