CONTRIBUTOR: Emma Castle, Satu Raunola & Minna Monaghan
MEET THE START-UP: SATU RAUNOLA AND MINNA MONAGHAN FROM AIRHELP
What is AirHelp?
AirHelp is the world’s leading air passenger rights company helping travellers apply for compensation from the airlines following a flight disruption. European Union law EC261 legislates compensation of up to 600 Euro to passengers whose flights have been cancelled or delayed over three hours. AirHelp supports passengers who experience a delayed or cancelled flight, or a missed connection within the EU, leaving the EU or arriving in the EU with a European airline. The service makes the claiming process as easy and seamless as possible for travellers.
TMCs, OTAs and other travel industry suppliers can now partner with AirHelp to assist their customers to apply for compensation from flights affected by the EC261 legislation, whilst earning a commission.
AirHelp has helped over seven million passengers since 2013 in processing air travel disruption claims. The existence of this EC ruling is not well-known in Australia and New Zealand, resulting in substantial funds not being claimed by local passengers.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves …
Satu: I am a Finnish born Sydneysider who is passionate about the travel market and excited about the digital transformation occurring in the industry. My career map covers senior marketing and communication, sales and leadership roles in the travel industry for nearly 20+ years. I ran my own marketing and PR company for ten years before joining Amadeus as a marketing communicator for six years. Now I am back being an entrepreneur and exploring the exciting start-up world. I love the flexibility and constant learning of being an entrepreneur.
Minna: I moved from Helsinki to Sydney 25 years ago for a six month contract, fell in love with the country, and stayed. Aviation and travel is in my blood; so not surprisingly I ended up working with the Qantas Group for fifteen years and with Virgin Australia Strategic Alliances team for another five years where I managed JVs, alliances and codeshares with the likes of Delta, Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Air NZ. I am now loving the flexibility that AirHelp and my aviation consulting business provide, enjoying my northern beaches home office, and the change from a city commute to a morning beach walk.
Where did the idea come from?
We both are passionate about the travel industry and wanted to team up as our skills and experience are complementary. We were looking for an innovative service that did not exist here. We learned about AirHelp and knew that we had found our match. The AirHelp team in Europe is great to work with. There are over 550 of us – very passionate AirHelpers around the globe driving for excellence and coming up with new innovative solutions and processes every day.
Where do you see it going in the next year?
We aim to make everyone in the travel industry aware of these consumer rights. With AirHelp, travel companies can provide a highly effective value-add white-glove claim service for clients. Partners earn commission and can benefit from both new and historical bookings. You can claim on flights going back three years – a great way to surprise and delight your customers. We also make sure that travellers are aware of these rights. They can contact their travel agent or go to www.airhelp.com and check if they are eligible for compensation if their flights have been disrupted.
If someone walked up to you and offered to help, what would you ask for?
Passion, expertise, team spirit and purpose.