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Chris Allison, Online Sales Manager


Tell us about your 'department': What does it do/Why work in this area?

The team I head up is the Online Channel team for Europe and we are responsible for all customer acquisition, conversion and consumer websites in the UK and Continental Europe. The team is collectively responsible for management of all web content, all online direct marketing, management of our consumer databases and associate marketing. Online is a very exciting and fast-paced environment and strategically important to our business due to its low cost of sale relative to other channels and the levels of engagement that we can have directly with our customers.

The areas that I love most about online is the pace at which things are changing the challenge in keeping up with these as well as being able to very quickly and accurately see the direct results of your business decision and everything you do can be tracked - there is nowhere to hide in our team!

Where did your journey start?

I started with Air New Zealand 6 years ago, just at the time when Air New Zealand announced its new daily service from London to Hong Kong. Prior to joining Air New Zealand, I worked at Thomas Cook. I joined on their Graduate Program where I spent time across various areas of the business including online marketing and overseas operations before securing a role in the Mass Market Tour Operations Product department where I worked on new product development. Prior to joining Thomas Cook, I studied Business and Marketing at Northumbria University, where I also had a part time job with British Airways working in their call centre.

Where's your journey taken you so far within Air New Zealand?

I was lucky enough to join Air New Zealand when they had announced their new London to Hong Kong service which resulted in an expansion of the UK Sales team and the creation of a new Corporate Sales Support role which is about supporting the Corporate Account Manager to help grow our business from the corporate market with the addition of our new route.

Much of my time in the role was focused on building new business development and developing our sales pipeline for potential clients to Los Angeles and Hong Kong, as well as providing office based support for our corporate clients and preferred Travel Management Companies. 18 months after joining there was a sales team restructure which resulted in my promotion to Corporate Account Manager where I managed a portfolio of Travel Management Companies and Corporate Clients. In this role I looked after some of our largest Travel Management Company Accounts as well as sourced, implemented and managed two of our largest corporate clients - Universal Music and Warner Brothers.

After three and half years in this role I moved to head up the Online Channel team where I currently work. This has been such a great opportunity to take my commercial experience and apply it to a new area of the business as well as learning about a new area of the business and managing a team of people.

Where do you hope your journey will take you?

I have had a fantastic few years at Air New Zealand here in the UK and my eventual goal is to reach a regional GM role and have the opportunity to work in another region. Air New Zealand is a very exciting business at the moment with investments in new on board products and fleet meaning that we will be looking at new market opportunities. I would love to continue to be part of Air New Zealand's journey.

What Air New Zealand value do you feel you best represent and why?

Working in a small team such as our region here means that you are often in situations where you have to work outside your core responsibilities and support other areas of the business. It is often easy to forget that we are an operational business that puts planes in the air while you're sitting at a desk. This all becomes very apparent when there is a disruption to the operation, such as the 2010 Volcanic Ash Cloud. The small team environment means that you often just have to muck in. I really enjoy the opportunities where I can pro-actively widen my experience in other parts of the business, which is a major part of working in a smaller team. Our small team has a very "Can-Do" culture and I think this is the core value that I best represent.

What's the best story you've been able to tell after a day at work?

In my previous role, due to the accounts that I was managing meant that Air New Zealand would often be carrying a number of high profile customers on our flights to Los Angeles. As part of my Can-Do spirit I would often make myself available to support the airport team and provide personal meet and greet services for some of these clients, which not only helps support that team but also helps provide confidence in the relationship with the clients and acts as a point of differentiation for Air New Zealand.

Last year we had a high profile customer travel back from Los Angeles with us in the midst of a very public divorce announcement, which meant that their arrival back to London was met with a horde of press and TV waiting to catch a glimpse. My meeting with that particular individual was flanked by private security and airport police and we were literally mobbed as we exited the baggage hall and as we got our customer into their waiting car. The story was big news, clips of the arrival and the attention received was recorded by several national newspapers for new bulletins. This meant that for one day (and one day only) I was appearing on national news!

The customer is now one of our frequent travellers on our flight between London and Los Angeles.

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