Travelpayouts Blog

Meet our team: Olga Gachkova, Marketing Manager

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Olga Gachkova returned from the USA to apply her newfound knowledge to the global travel sector. At Travelpayouts, Olga runs webinars and dreams about creating an educational niche within the company. In this interview, she shared her vision of the perfect webinar, her feelings on how wonderful it would be to have natives on the team, her favorite daily office ritual, how she worked in Georgia without electricity, and what Stephen King’s house in the mystical state of Maine really looks like.

Before Travelpayouts

  • As a child, I wanted to be a long-haul trucker. Every summer, we would visit my grandmother in the village in Kazakhstan. Each time, we would wait for a while at customs. I adored watching those happy-faced men, who’d stay at customs with us, as they made a living by driving around the world.
  • I have three degrees. The first is a degree in International Relations from the South Ural State University, the second is a degree in Experience Economy in Tourism and Hospitality from the Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, and, finally, the third is a master’s degree in Sustainable Tourism Management from Colorado State University.
  • Experience Economy in Tourism (cultural, urban, and festival) at the Higher School of Economics involves a lot of theory, science, and research. Tourism Management in the United States was more practical and focused on real business development with a concentration on outdoor tourism related to ski resorts, national parks, protected areas, and sustainable development.

My role at Travelpayouts

  • In 2015, it seemed to me that Russia did not stand out among the world’s tourism leaders. I wanted to change this. I began looking for a place where I could fill in the blanks of my tourism knowledge, so I went to the USA using the Fulbright scholarship. According to the scholarship’s conditions, I had to return to Russia to share my newfound knowledge and cultural experiences here.
  • Upon my return, I started looking for the best way to keep working in the travel industry, while using the broad knowledge of humanitarian science, marketing, and management that I obtained during my time at universities. For several months, I tried to identify my dream career path and chose digital marketing. In Russia, only a few travel companies do digital marketing. That is how I found Travelpayouts.
  • Getting a job at Travelpayouts was difficult. I saw an Aviasales/Jetradar targeted opening for a developer on social media, which surprised me. I checked the company’s official website and found a job offer for a junior marketing manager. I spent several days thinking over a decent cover letter. Then I received two massive tests with an interview in between, which lasted over an hour. When the job offer letter finally arrived, I was on cloud nine.
  • At Travelpayouts, I mainly run webinars, for which I do most of the preparation and conducting work. Throughout my entire life, I have been involved in educational processes. I love learning and teaching, since I like to watch a person change through learning. Moving forward, I hope to continue educating the audience. Webinars are just one instrument among many others.
  • Our marketing team has a horizontal management structure. We all help each other, ask for advice, and do projects together.

About webinars

  • Setting a goal is the first step in organizing a webinar. Webinars are a great mediator between advertisers and affiliates. When we find a problem, we set up an online meeting to discuss the issue in more detail. For instance, we can talk about an offer that, in our opinion, may attract more affiliates. Then, we collect feedback and work it through.
  • When a topic is announced, we need to understand whom we are going to invite. We bring in the audience in many ways. Almost the entire team works on some part of the process. I prepare promo materials, landings, target emails, and automatizations, while our blog editors promote the webinar through online posts. We also make creative content and commercials for social media. Our team communicates with speakers and, once they find one, reviews that advertiser`s presentation and speech. Shortly before the webinar, we send reminders, prepare the venue and set up a stream on Facebook or YouTube. Even though we run webinars online, the process requires a lot of effort.
  • Webinars last for about one hour. First, we share the latest company news, after which the speaker presents their affiliate program, gives recommendations for affiliates, and talks about insights and trends. Finally, we move into the Q&A, which many people see as the most interactive part. For us, the Q&A is a chance to get feedback and ideas for improvement.
  • There are always people who can’t join the webinar. Thus, when it is over, we keep working. I update the webinar’s landing page and blogpost, then edit and upload the webinar to YouTube, which makes me a bit of a video editor. Then, we email all the webinar participants, thank the speakers, set a date for the next webinar, share statistics with the team, and think of ways to improve our next session.
  • The whole preparation process takes about a month, which is why we prepare several webinars simultaneously. Our maximum number was 8 webinars in a single month.
  • Your public speaking skill depends on practice: the more you do it, the better you become. There are also additional moderators on each live session. I know that if something goes wrong, they can back me up. Webinars are different from public speaking because you don’t see the people you are talking to. What you actually see is a constantly growing number of comments, then you ask your listeners for feedback and try not to stare at your own image on the screen.
  • Each webinar`s success is defined by quality content and the public speaking skills of the presenter. You can add new activities as listeners express interest in them. It is also important to determine your target audience and invite the right people.
  • Usually, each webinar gets between 100 to 250 live listeners. Our registration record is 2,000 people for our webinar about Travelpayouts’ tools and offers with Tanya Buyanova and Andrey Novoselov.
  • We use “GetResponse”, as this platform is pretty effective and has all the necessary instruments for our current tasks. We plan to broaden our online activities and make them more sophisticated, so there may be some upcoming changes. Also, all webinars are listed on the Travelpayouts Events platform in advance.
  • Not long ago, we started streaming webinars on Facebook and YouTube. Recently, we finished the first season of Weekly Travel Updates, a Facebook Live show where we invited experts in affiliate marketing, blogging, and SEO to discuss the travel industry situation.

About foreign markets

  • If you create a top-quality international product, sooner or later, it will go global. At that point, you’ll need a competitive, hard-working team and knowledge of the market. While you might be able to easily communicate with your audience in one country, it may be harder to do the same in another one.
  • Since Travelpayouts helps the market to develop and is unique within the travel niche, I believe that our chances of success are high. However, having natives on the team might simplify the process if we want to ensure a deep understanding of the mentality and values of every market and produce a useful product to help our advertisers, partners, and users. 

Work environment

  • At the very beginning, I worked remotely for a few months. Since I didn’t have to actually sit at the office, I instead decided to organize my own “Work and Travel” experience and went to Georgia for one and a half months.
  • When working remotely, regardless of your psychical location, there is always a certain amount of hours spent at some kind of desk. The idea of sitting under a palm tree with your laptop in hand is one of the most common myths spread about remote work on social media. In Georgia, making the most of my free time was easier. In the evening, I would go out as a tourist and return home with tons of memories and experiences.
  • I had worked remotely for most of my life, but, at Travelpayouts, I started to love the office. When surrounded by great teammates, you quickly grow into a new atmosphere. I set a personal goal to learn digital marketing, so it was crucial that I be surrounded with experienced, forward-thinking colleagues.

About motivation

  • In terms of work, I am motivated by my decision-making freedom. It feels great when people have trust in you as an expert, and, naturally, you want to meet their expectations. Also, I love having the chance to generate ideas and discuss them with my team. The horizontal structure at Travelpayouts, my team`s experience, and the smooth flow of communication are the perfect conditions in which to generate new ideas. I am also happy that I can cope with all the challenges that come my way, which I believe means my career path was the right choice for me.
  • Work-life balance is not a joke. Even now, I am surprised how the company managed to gather so many workaholics in one place. Even if you like your job, it is important not to burnout. Upon returning from the States, I was deep in thought about what to do next in my life and decided to walk the 730km pilgrim route called Camino de Santiago in Spain, Spain on foot. This adventure helped clear my mind and prepare me for my next journey. With this said, you don’t always have the luxury of taking off for an entire month.

Things I’d like to improve

  • Currently, the company is in the process of extraordinary growth and development. Everyone can try their hand at multiple projects, experiment with different areas, and bring something unique to the table. But great opportunities come with great responsibility. I know first hand that it’s possible to take on more than you can physically manage. At the same time, there is no better way to improve your ability than to be clear-eyed about your inner resources.
  • I definitely need to get more training in public speaking. Also, I want to learn Instructional Design, which is a methodology used for compiling educational programs. Educational content is part of a larger process, which will bring your user, client, or partner from point A to point B. In our case, the best-case scenario is when affiliates earn a lot while our partners are satisfied with their revenue growth. We are already doing our best to achieve this goal.
  • Webinars used to be an experiment for Travelpayouts, but they have become our regular practice. Naturally, webinars are only one of many educational content formats. The key is to teach others how to work with a complex product. For now, I am learning from the knowledge and practice that existed in the company before I joined. You can’t drastically improve your marketing skills in a single day!

Let’s get personal

  • During my time in the USA, I was appointed as an Acting Manager of a big recreation facility with six local employees. This facility was part of the Appalachian Mountain Club (the oldest outdoor organization in the States) located in the state of Maine. While working in this role, I was staying next to Stephen King’s house near Lake Kezar. The facility was a four-hour ride from the nearest city and not far from the 3,500km Appalachian Trail. The area was surrounded by a dense forest, not too far from the Canadian border, where huge moose roamed. We had our own well, solar panels, and diesel generators, which would sometimes breakdown during night. And, of course, a nearly nonexistent mobile connection. I was an alumna with almost zero training, but I would take a lantern and walk under the stars to the main lodge and motivate myself by thinking about how I was the daughter of soviet engineers who could fix anything. I was responsible for everything that happened at that facility, as well as for the employees and guests.
  • If aliens visit us one day and ask where to go to get a better understanding of the human race, I would direct them to any bus terminal in Russia (or any other country, for that matter), as a bus terminal is a demo version of any society.
  • I have visited 40 countries and my next destinations are probably Ireland and Romania. I would also like to see more of Russia.
  • An event that influenced me a lot was my first euro tour. Back then, none of my friends travelled. On my birthday on January 3, 2014, I impulsively booked a trip to nine countries. Five nights before my departure, I couldn’t sleep a wink out of fear. Now, this journey seems like a piece of cake, but, at that time, I had no idea what awaited me.
  • Among the books I have read recently, I would highly recommend The Rum Diary by Hunter Thompson, but only to those over 26 years old (that is important).
  • At a corporate party, I would play: 
  1. To heat up: Beastie Boys
  2. To relax: Beach Boys
  3. And finally, “24-hour party people” by Happy Mondays

Further plans

  • In ten years, I see myself sailing a yacht in French Polynesia.