For this instalment of meet the team, we talk to Tech Director Steve Chadway. In this very rare interview, Steve takes some time off writing code to explain how he came across Privadia and what is next in the companies tech vision.
How did you get into all things tech? Was this a passion from school or did you first jobs lead you in this direction?
I was 12 I think, I remember the day well, I kept nagging my mam to get me a computer and it had arrived. I switched it on and it was just a blank screen with a flashing C:\ (no windows then, showing my age!). From that day on, I became a little obsessed with understanding how to get this blank screen too come alive…or even just do something. This initial need for any computer response quickly turned into wanting to understand things in a lot more detail. I found myself quickly investigating the world of programming. I was also heavily into art at this time and started out doing that in college but left after a year and moved onto IT…failed my first year…but I was then offered a job as an IT trainee. It was at this point that something really clicked for me, I started moving around the country working for large blue-chip companies as a staff member and also as a freelance contractor. It was during this time that I developed a passion for all things business, which combined with my now fully formed IT knowledge took me straight into my career as a technical architect and entrepreneur.
How did you first come across Privadia?
I had worked with Harvey (Founding Partner at Privadia) on a few previous projects and it was because of this previous work that he contacted me regarding getting involved. I immediately saw the future in the company and loved the direction the business was going in. I freelanced for a few months creating the initial MVP of our tech platform, further to which I was offered a place on the Board of Directors, an honour and quite simply a no brainer…I said yes straight away and haven’t looked back since.
When you joined Privadia you must have seen so much room for future growth. What were your first key projects with the company to start shaping the tech side of the business?
As with a lot of companies, Privadia at the time was primarily running the business from spreadsheets. This was leading to slower response times on enquiries and was the obvious starting point for a new, more tech-based approach. This was when the early stages of our platform were born. V.1 was a very simple and primitive version of the current system you see today, however, it was successful in providing the tools we needed to differentiate ourselves and was the starting point for all future developments since. I am very proud to see just how far the system has come compared to those early days.
What is the status of the current Privadia system? What would you say have been the biggest recent developments?
The Privadia platform continues to grow almost daily, we are always introducing new features and adding value for our internal team and our many agency partners around the world. Our most recent large development was the introduction of property web pages which have replaced the old and clunky PDF brochures. These new web pages allow us to showcase the villas in the best possible way and also work in realtime, ensuring all our property information is kept up to date. These webpages also gave us the ability to generate a dedicated options page for enquiries, further bridging the gap between the property web page and the property search tools. On a more technical note, we are currently implementing new search API’s with a huge increase in performance, further strengthening our ability to scale up as we continue to expand into new destinations.
We know the tech team at Privadia has recently expanded? What were the reasons for this and can you tell us a little bit more about your newest recruit?
Yes, we recently took on our legendary front end developer, Daniil. He is a true asset to the team and a coding guru of all things user interface. Due to the sheer intensity of the tech and B2B travel industry, continually shifting with new innovations, it’s important that we bring new blood and skillsets into the team. With Daniil leading on the front end, I can now focus on the server-side meaning we can move much faster whenever new requirements are identified.
Any exciting projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about? Any developments about to drop that we can look out for?
Now that is a difficult question, the business and industry are moving so quickly that we are constantly looking at new ways to innovate and to stay ahead of the game. We have big plans going forward, some kept under wraps of course along with continuous refinements and additions to our existing platform. We are very close to releasing our new mailing integration which will bring major improvements to the communication side of things for agency partners and we are also working on a new and improved booking engine which will speed up the booking, contract and payments process even further.
In an area of a business where things are always changing, adapting and advancing how do you plan to stay at the forefront of B2b travel tech?
In the travel and the tech industry in general, things are constantly moving. New techniques, new innovations and integrations happen almost daily. I strive to keep on top of all things tech, across different markets, via my own favourite industry news sites and feeds…basically getting my daily geek fix wherever possible. By doing this it’s possible to identify ideas and concepts within other industries which have the potential to be used within B2B travel tech. Along with this, I have my morning emails updating me on new advancements in B2B travel tech itself. It’s an exciting time to be in this industry, especially in the relatively young, luxury market!