Wilfried Kropp’s words carry weight. In his “home market” of Austria, the former managing director of Amadeus Austria and passionate “Donaldist” is respected as a keen observer of the travel industry.
In turn, he is the mastermind behind our “Umbrella Insight” bulletin, and a valued guide and provider of ideas to our company.
Enjoy our interview with Wilfried Kropp and find out what “Donaldism” is all about:
What are you doing professionally at the moment?
I am a freelance journalist and consultant. Since ending my career as a managing director, I can allow myself the luxury of writing only about topics and for companies that I find interesting.
Can we have a few facts and figures about your time at Amadeus Austria?
In 1988 we entered a difficult market as it was widely dispersed. But we broke the ice. Good personal connections, reliability, the quality of the product and the value of a handshake matter in Austria. This is where we could score points. With a long-term approach we have increased our market share from around 10 per cent to well over 60 per cent.
What has been your experience of development at Umbrella, observing from the side lines in recent years?
I like companies that are always learning and developing. Umbrella is just that type of company. The development of Umbrella Faces, for example, was in no business plan but resulted from of a customer requirement. Umbrella recognised the opportunity and turned it into a strong product.
What are Umbrella’s strengths?
I am always amazed at how quickly Umbrella implements new requirements. Although Umbrella is no longer a young company, the team still has a “start up” spirit. Plus, I really like the meeting culture: everything is brought to the point quickly and agreed upon as binding.
What can we improve?
I can’t think of much. One small suggestion is to maintain the focus on business travel, but also take a look at the tourism industry. I still see many opportunities for innovative solutions there.
In your opinion, what do you think are the key developments in the travel trade at the moment?
We are still undergoing structural changes. Traditional companies have not yet found any future-oriented business models and the many new companies have yet to prove that they can also make money with their concepts.
I’m sorry to have to say this but from my perspective I find that the technology today is somewhat overvalued. Travel companies, both old and new, should look more closely at improving their customer relationships, in my opinion. Amazon is not as successful as it is because of its computing power, but because they are constantly thinking about how to noticeably improve their services to customers.
So, a bit about the private Wilfried Kropp: where and with whom do you live?
I live with my wife and our disabled daughter Isabelle in Schönau am Königssee. Schönau is situated in the most south-eastern corner of Germany, just about 25 minutes from Salzburg. From my desk I can see the beautiful Watzmann mountain. My other two children, Sebastian and Linda, study in Regensburg.
What do you like to do besides observing the travel industry? What are your favourite or most unusual hobbies?
I actually have a wide range of interests. Architecture, history of cities, technical innovations, structural changes in the economy, stock markets, opera, film – I am interested in a lot of things. I also like being outdoors and enjoying the Bavarian and Austrian culture and mountains while hiking or biking. This culture includes “Speckbrot” and wheat beer, of course. A somewhat strange hobby I have is “Donaldism”, a type of research that deals with the parallel universe of Disney’s Duckburg and its inhabitants.
Thank you very much for the interesting interview!