July profile: Odette Faling, CEO at Wanago Travel

This month we chat to Odette Faling, CEO at Wanago Travel – a new online travel agency with a difference. Having spent the last ten years (eight of which were in the travel industry) gaining extensive experience in marketing, sales, affiliate marketing, lead generation, traffic acquisition, building partnerships, global expansion and marketing strategies, Odette shares some of her insights and experiences, as well as her expectations for her latest venture. Describe yourself in 3 words. Ambitious. Passionate. Versatile. When I was a kid I wanted to be….. An investment banker. As boring as it sounds, but when I was 10 years old I walked into the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen looking out on the Sydney harbour and I asked the owner what he did for a living, and he was an investment banker. Tell us about Wanago Travel – where did it all start? One of the founders was looking for technology to add to concerts, events and park entries so he met the Israeli ambassador at Oppikoppi last year who pointed him into the direction of an Israeli tech company. They came to South Africa and realised that nobody is yet selling events, flights and hotels in one flow. That is where Wanago and Travelcheck were born. Travelcheck being the low cost online travel agency selling flights, hotels and bundles only. And Wanago which is still in production that will be focused on experiences first. How is Wanago Travel different from other online travel agencies? Wanago travel is an experience driven website that will be selling experiences and adding flights and hotels on-top of the experience. Travelcheck is an online travel agency selling flights and hotels in a package; this has not yet been done before in South Africa so we are excited to bring this feature to the market. What is your experience from working with performance-based affiliate marketing? My entire career is based on what I learnt from my experience in affiliate marketing. As a CEO I now think of acquisition cost as a necessity and I have put affiliates at the forefront of our marketing initiatives. Most valuable lessons learnt in your professional career, the past 10 years? Take care of your partners (including affiliates) as if they were your family. They pay your bills at the end of the day and take huge risks to buy into your dream. Your vision for Wanago Travel? To be an alternative to booking your entire trip through a travel agent. We want travellers to save time and money by booking their experiences and holidays online. What advice do you have for aspiring affiliate marketers? Ensure that you prioritise building your brand. The days of Google dependency is gone. Hold your suppliers and merchants accountable for the product that you are selling and keep the relationship with them strong at all times. Greatest destination ever visited? Italy, Italy, Italy. The food, the people, the architecture, the beautiful hills and the wine. It gets me every time!