Interviewed by the BN Magazine’s team, Ramadan Ozdemir – CEO of Direct Traveller – shared interesting insights about his experience in building his own company and trends in the tourism business. Elif Sabanovic was there to gather this valuable success story for BN Magazine.
Mr Ozdemir, could you tell us about yourself?
Well, I was born in the United Kingdom from a Turkish Cypriot family. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Studies at the University of Surrey. My personal interests include travelling, technology, cars, and music.
Would you tell us a bit more about the services that your company, Direct Traveller, provides?
Direct Traveller offers tailor-made holidays to specific destinations such as Northern Cyprus, Turkey, Dubai, Oman and Sri Lanka. Among our services, we include beach holidays, guided tours, villa holidays, and twin centre holidays in all of our destinations.
When was Direct Traveller founded and how many people work for the company?
I established Direct Traveller after having graduated from university in 2003. I had a keen interest to be involved in an international business of some sort and this desire led me to consider different ideas. I decided tour operating was the ideal sector for me before graduation, since it involves using international services.
I created the company alone and – as we began to grow quickly – I started recruiting family members and friends to help with the business activity. We currently have a team of 8 members in the United Kingdom, with a larger network of people working with us internationally.
What are the most selected holiday destinations?
As a specialist tour operator, we do offer exclusively a selection of destinations. This allows us to focus and really know in detail what we are offering. North Cyprus, Turkey, and Dubai are currently our principal destinations. North Cyprus has reached maturity in terms of organisation of the services we provide, while our holidays in Turkey and Dubai are at their growth stages.
If I’m not mistaken, you provide services exclusively or majorly online. Is that a core feature of your company?
Direct Traveller has invested heavily in online technology. We were the first company to offer Dynamic packaging holidays to North Cyprus. This meant that people could actually tailor their own holidays! This leveraged our online growth and helped us achieve a fast growth as a company in general. We do not solely offer online holidays and, as a specialist tour operator, we do provide a service through our call centres as well, where we can give individual advice and satisfy the needs of our clients. We prefer to talk to our clients so that we can deliver a tailored holiday service to suit them.
To what extent was your company affected by the recent financial crisis?
During the credit crunch in 2009 and 2010, Direct Traveller actually achieved its largest growth as a company. We were even listed into the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track League as 77th fastest growing private company in the United Kingdom.
We tried to make as much positive out of that period by using it as an opportunity to deliver extra value for our clients in their holidays. Therefore we focused on new Euro-free destinations.
The UK economic downturn stunted our growth, but with the introduction of new destinations, we are on track with our growth strategy. As the United Kingdom officially eases out of recession, we can see that people are slowly beginning to budget more for their holidays.
What is the key factor behind your success?
As we are a family-run business, one of the key factors in our success is the professional attitude and vision to always try our best. The Direct Traveller team currently includes members of my family, which forms the core of the business. They offer an extra level of dedication to our objective and we all share the same culture of “striving to deliver the best level of service possible”. Family members include my brother (Enver Ozdemir), my wife (Rasme Ozdemir) and my sister-in-law (Guner Surucu).
Another factor for our success over the years is our desire to be innovative. We always try to implement new ideas and strategies. For example, Direct Traveller was also the first company to launch online dynamic packaging holidays to Northern Cyprus, the only company to repeatedly advertise Northern Cyprus on British television channels such as Sky and ITV, and the only UK based company to launch an iPhone app for holidays in Northern Cyprus.
Where do you see your company in five years time?
To see where we will be in five years time, I can first explain where we are today: a leading specialist tour operator aimed at a national audience interested in travelling to our selected destinations. In addition to Northern Cyprus and Turkey, we have added new destinations such as Oman, Sri Lanka, and Dubai. I can foresee that we will have some more exciting new destinations added to our portfolio, making Direct Traveller a recognised and reputable brand appealing to a broader audience in the United Kingdom.