Diederik Rus and Victor Hendriks

Diederik Rus and Victor Hendriks

Transforming a start-up to a market leader in turbulent times

Programme Diederik: MSc Marketing Management, 2004
Programme Victor: MSc Management of Innovation, 2005
Currently: Owners Otravo B.V. (vliegtickets.nl, vliegtarieven.nl)
Nominated by: Eric van Heck, Professor of Information Management and Markets

With Victor Hendriks’ enthusiasm to innovate with technology, and Diederik Rus’ desire to design next generation business, these alumni are a perfect business match. Out of their shared interest in the fusion of business and technology, one of the first Dutch online air tickets comparison and booking websites was born. 

The successful idea of www.vliegtarieven.nl came about during Diederik and Victor’s bachelor research project in 1999 and their individual master thesis projects to experiment on the internet and create business impact. They used several call center technologies and online innovations linking to global ticket databases and secure online bookings, and expanded to car rental, hotel bookings, insurance, and cruise bookings.

Vliegtarieven.nl is one of the few companies that survived the dot-com crisis of 2000. During the turbulent years after that, it became the Dutch market leader in online travel tickets though its websites vliegtickets.nl, vliegtarieven.nl and wtc.nl, with an annual turnover of €180 million in 2013.

“Success is when you achieve ambitious goals,” says Diederik. “It’s time to think better and smarter than yesterday and have innovative plans for tomorrow.” Victor: “I’m interested in new things, new products and new services for consumers. It drives me forward to be part of the innovation, especially when your own innovative ideas are adopted by the market.” Diederik adds that RSM helped them to think and write in a structural and logical way. “RSM helped me to balance between a high-level helicopter view versus deep-diving in the details,” he says. Both alumni are eager to help RSM students to define interesting research questions, host bachelor research projects or provide a guest lecture to students in RSM’s MSc in Business Information Management programme.

Diederik and Victor’s companies received several awards in the travel industry, such as best travel agent by ANVR in 2001, the STAR alliance best online agent award 2007, best web shop in 2009 by Thuiswinkel.org.

Further expansion and acquisition of Vliegtickets.nl and World Ticket Center in 2014 created online travel organisation Otravo, the largest online travel booking platform in the Netherlands of which Victor and Diederik are executive board members. Their next goal is to develop a position in the European online travel booking market.