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Fareportal, New York, NY: Ruben Bello

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company: Fareportal, New York, NY
Company Description: Fareportal is one of the fastest-growing travel companies in the world. With more than 2,500 employees, Fareportal powers CheapOair, which is the #4 biggest travel site behind brands such as Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz. Originally founded as a travel agency in New Jersey in 1976 with first online bookings on CheapOair in 2005, millions of people book their travel on CheapOair today.
Nomination Category: Customer Service & Call Center Awards Individual Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Customer Service Leader of the Year

Nomination Title: Ruben Bello, VP of International Operations, CheapOair

Tell the story about what this nominee achieved since the beginning of July 2013 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

Fareportal is one of the fastest-growing travel companies in the world. With more than 2,500 employees, Fareportal powers CheapOair, the #4 biggest travel site behind brands such as Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz. What sets Fareportal apart:

1. Wholly owned call centers: Fareportal is the only online travel company which owns all of its contact centers and employs each of its contact center agents.

2. Hybrid model: As a result, travelers not only have the online site and mobile app at their disposal, but a highly trained and dedicated team of certified travel agents available 24/7 by phone and live chat.

Ruben Bello, VP of international operations, joined Fareportal in 2011 with over 30 years of travel industry experience.

Under Ruben’s leadership, CheapOair’s Manhattan contact center was recently named a winner in ‘Customer Focused Innovations of the Year’ category – as well as a finalist in the ‘Contact Center of the Year’ category – in 7th annual International Service Excellence Awards, organized by the Customer Service Institute of America and International Council of Customer Service Organizations. CheapOair’s unique high-touch / high-tech offering in the travel industry and its focus on contact center excellence are key to its business success, with several other contact center achievements in the last year alone:

1. CheapOair contact centers receive more than 22,000 calls a day and more than 1,500 trips are booked through the contact centers alone every day.

2. CheapOair employs more than 1,500 contact center employees, between 7 contact centers in 5 countries. CheapOair’s contact centers range from 30 employees in Canada to 900 in India. More than 150 contact center agents are hired each month, for a global employee growth of 414% during the past 6 years.

3. CheapOair maintains global attrition under 5% annually – an unprecedented low percentage in light of average rates of 15% in the U.S. and more than 30% in India. This is due to several factors, including:

• extensive training, focus on long-term development and long tenure,
• full ownership of all large contact center buildings in India, which sends a clear message of long-term location commitment to employees

4. Contact centers continue to excel at customer service: Year-over-year calls received improved by 22% in 2014, while calls abandoned decreased by 5%, resulting in 23% improvement in call abandonment rates.

5. Ruben is a veteran with 30+ years of experience, who is not afraid to pick up the call himself. In fact, part of employee training is listening to Ruben handle customer calls. Ruben even gives customers his cell phone number and encourages direct inquiries to make sure customers are happy.

6. While all employees are trained in first call resolution and first call resolution rates are impressively high at 95%, the contact center is otherwise divided into tier 1/2/3 response systems. Additional innovations include:

• Specialty teams, trained in solving specific, complex issues,
• Proprietary online platform to track all customer issues, 24/7,
• 100% neutral agents, always recommending the best deals, regardless of the airline.

7. CheapOair is the only travel agency to have a special refund fund to offer refunds to customers, whose refund requests have been denied, for a variety of reasons, by the airlines themselves. We stand behind our customer service and our promise to customers – this is unheard of in any other online travel agencies.

8. In a recent Google survey, 13% of CheapOair customers said they are brand ambassadors that love the brand and would defend it no matter what. Google said that the typical numbers for most admired companies – even ones like Disney – are 3-4%.

9. As a result of the superior customer service, CheapOair has the highest percentage of happy customers. Top10Reviews published a Top 10 Online Travel Sites comparison, where CheapOair was the only online travel site with a perfect, 10 out of 10, score for help and support. Trust Pilot also offers CheapOair a very high online customer service satisfaction ranking of 8.9 out of 10.

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