Nearly 10 years since launching Routehappy, founder Robert
Albert is stepping down from his role as executive vice president of retailing
for ATPCO, the company that bought Routehappy in 2018, to pursue interests that include supporting social justice causes.
As of tomorrow, Albert will transition to the role of senior
advisor to ATPCO and out of his day-to-day leadership role for the company that was a pioneer in developing “rich content” products for airline retailing and runner-up as "Most Innovative Emerging Company" at the Phocuswright Conference in 2013.
move Albert says he has been contemplating since the acquisition in February
“I decided I would work very hard to integrate and scale but
then there will be this moment at the 10-year mark, I decided, that it will be
time for me to take a break and pursue these other interests and passions while
keeping my foot in the door,” he says.
“Really consciously for the last year and a quarter I’ve
been in this working-myself-out-of-a-job kind of role. And it feels great
because it is so satisfying to have created something that I genuinely believe
will go on forever, that it is useful to the whole industry.”
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Asked to reflect on what he is most proud of in this first
decade of Routehappy, Albert quickly offers two things: the “smart, passionate
team of inventors” that he worked with to build a new way to create and sell
flight products and that has now grown to include hundreds of others at airlines,
sales channels and distribution systems who also “know and understand and can
explain and evangelize and innovate” about flight retailing.
And second, the
fact that what began as his “slightly crazy idea” has now become a solution for
the common good of the airline industry.
“We had to say this is what we’re trying to do, but it only
works if everyone jumps in and agrees to do it,” he says.
“And enough people, little by little, started to jump in and
believe the vision and the story. It’s an odd thing for a startup to say we’ve
got to do something on behalf of the entire industry ... and I’m incredibly proud
In April, Albert led the launch of ATPCO’s newest rich
content product known as Reassurance UPAs, which enable airlines and sales
channels to describe and show measures airlines are taking to protect travelers
due to COVID-19.
So what’s next for Albert? At the top of his list are
spending more time in nature and becoming actively involved in social justice
“I'm kind of a change agent type of person. I’m okay with change. I believe change is necessary and important. A lot of things that
are unfair about the world and the country bug me a lot,” he says.
“I’m now at the point where I care so passionately about politics
and social justice issues that I’m planning on getting involved in lots of
different ones. ... We have to all step up and speak up.”
Will that mean a run for office is in his future?
“No way!” Albert says.
“It’s more like Routehappy - I want to be kind of the behind-the-scenes
guy who can help things happen but not have to be the politician.”
* Check out this interview with Albert, recorded in October 2019 for the How I Got Here podcast.