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Tuesday, 07 January 2014 11:38

Improtex first private company of independent Azerbaijan Featured

Improtex first private company of independent Azerbaijan

First Class Journal (FCJ): Mr. Guliyev, could you, please, tell about how Improtex Travel was established?

Alexander Guliyev, General Director, Improtex Travel: I can speak about the history of establishment and primary activities of our company very long and in detail since I have headed the tourism company of the diversified holding company ‘Improtex Group’ for 20 years, actually since the first years of its operation. It is a common knowledge that when Azerbaijan gained independence in 1991, the tourism industry of the republic faced serious changes. The main tourism organizations of the Soviet period such as VAO Intourist, the Central Advice (council) on Tourism and Excursions of the All-Union Central Council of Trade-Unions, the Bureau of International Youth Travel ‘Sputnik’ of the Central Committee of All-Union Leninist Young Communist League disappeared. During this period a group of young specialists made a decision to create their own firm, which thereafter was registered as a private travel agency on August 9, 1991. So, it is the history of the birth of Improtex as the first private firm of Independent Azerbaijan.

The new private company started its activity from the first charter flights from Baku to Istanbul organized together with the national air company Azal.

Later the company developed new routes: to the United Arab Emirates, Syria, China, Egypt, Iran and many other countries.

From the mid-90s the economic situation in the republic changed for the better. Azerbaijan, that time led by the nationwide leader President Heydar Aliyev, was making huge efforts on the international scene to become a recognized member of the international community. Visits of tourists and businessmen from many countries of the world to Azerbaijan significantly grew in number.

The first participation in the largest international tourism exhibition in Berlin ITB-94 encouraged the Improtex executives to think seriously about the essence and main areas of activity of a word class travel agency, whereas getting acquainted with the activity of the industry-leading travel agencies of Europe and America set up new goals for the company team. So, the company got a new name of the small business ‘Improtex Travel Tours & Conferences’ which alongside with sending our citizens from Azerbaijan abroad started reception and service here in Azerbaijan of foreign tourists and business visitors - participants of international exhibitions, sports events, festivals and visiting conferences. The company also became the sales agent of international air companies in Azerbaijan.

In the spring of 1997 Improtex Travel became the first in the Republic and across the entire South Caucasus accredited agent of the International Air Transport Association /IATA/. The company signed agency air-tickets booking and sale contracts with different air companies and became the only accredited agent of the Transport Clearing Chamber of Russia. The image of Improtex Travel as an international travel agency kept on growing and the company gained trust of the largest tour operators of different countries and such largest world air companies as Lufthansa (Germany), British Airways (Great Britain), Aeroflot (Russia), KLM (Holland), Swissair (Switzerland), Emirates (United Arab Emirates) and others.

Those years educational tourism started developing and its geography significantly expanded. A noticeable layer of amateur travelers appeared in Azerbaijan for whom the company developed excursion routes not only across Azerbaijan, but also to countries of Western Europe, Southeast Asia, the USA, Brazil, RSA and different exotic corners of our planet. The company arranges tours combining rest with treatment in clinics and health resorts of the well-known health spas of Israel (Dead Sea), the CzechRepublic (Karlovy Vary), and Germany (Baden-Baden). The resorts of Caucasus Mineralnye Vody region, the Crimea, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia again gain popularity.

With its successful activity in the field of outbound and external tourism, Improtex Travel gains recognition from world’s largest tour operators and companies. The company is now a member of the American Society of Travel Agents /ASTA/, Japanese Association of Travel Agents/JATA/, International Group of Silk Route Tour Operators /SRGroup/, the General Partner and Coordinator of the Best Eastern Hotels (CIS and Baltic countries) in Azerbaijan, an Accredited Agent of Germany’s largest international tourism concern TUI, etc.

As late as in the 90s of the last century Improtex Travel was recognized as a true leader in the tourism market of Azerbaijan and the goal-oriented expansion of the activity of our company successfully continued in follow-up years.


FCJ: How wide is the geography of your company’s activities? Do you have plans to expand it?

Alexander Guliyev: At different times economic interests and external circumstances of the condition of the tourism market demanded presence of branch offices or official representations of our company both in the regions of Azerbaijan and abroad.

For example, in the 90s of the XX century the representative offices of Improtex Travel worked in Ganja, Sharjah (United Arab Emirates), later in the 2000s we organized the activity of a representative office of Improtex Travel in Lagich and Gakh (Azerbaijan).

If your question concerns the geography of travel routes that Improtex Travel offers to the citizens of Azerbaijan, the list of foreign countries and regions of Azerbaijan where we send our tourists can include too many places. Recently we have performed the economic analysis of our activity. In concrete figures we have learnt that for 20 years of operation Improtex Travel has send for rest and business trips over 100,000 tourists to 80 foreign countries and approximately the same number of guests were received and served here in Azerbaijan.

As you can see, figures speak for themselves.


FCJ: In which regions of Azerbaijan do you have already opened branch offices?

Alexander Guliyev: As I have already mentioned, we opened a “Representation” in 2004 in Gakh city. Along with air-ticket booking and sale office to serve citizens living in this region (not only Gakh, but also Zagatala and Balakand regions of Azerbaijan), this representation has its own small Guest House and receives and serves tourists coming here from all corners of the world.


FCJ: Which international tourism exhibitions and fairs do you participate in?

Alexander Guliyev: Throughout the whole our activity we have used considerable financial resources for participation in international tourism exhibitions and fairs and respectively for advertizing and promotion in the international market for services, programs and routes on inbound tourism in Azerbaijan. Since 1994 we have started independently positioning the Azerbaijan tourism abroad with our own stand. For this purpose the company published a large number of brochures, guides, catalogs, mainly on domestic and inbound tourism, and exhibited them at international tourism fairs in Berlin, London, Tokyo, Moscow, Dubai, Istanbul, Tashkent, Minsk, etc., from year to year. Moreover, our employees attend these and other international tourism exhibitions from year to year, currently as a part of the delegation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan. It allows us to expand the area of offers on international tourism, establish contacts and ties with the largest foreign tour operators, hotels, air companies, health resorts and leading medical centers to be able to expand our offers and provide citizens of Azerbaijan with the full range of services abroad.


FCJ: Which services can the company offer to corporate customers?

Alexander Guliyev: Currently I can say with confidence the following: our activity is well-known among the domestic population, so is among government and private organizations, which used our services at different times.

For more than 20-year period we have established close business relations with many organizations and firms of Azerbaijan and foreign companies working in our republic for which we when necessary sell air tickets, arrange hotel reservation, motor transport, guides and offer other tourism services both abroad and in Azerbaijan as well. And, certainly, we have quite a big list of regular customers of our company.

For our corporate clients we offer the most favorable programs and routes, give the opportunity of making payments for travel by installments. We invite them to advertizing tourism routes and boost systematic contacts on our own Facebook page in Internet. We also had corporate clients represented by foreign tourism companies, which annually send to Azerbaijan and to the routes of the Great Silk Way hundred tourists from Turkey, Japan, Germany, and Great Britain. In recent years we have considerably expanded our ties with several companies from Russia and Ukraine that started sending tourists to Azerbaijan not only for rest and informative purposes, but also for organization of their own corporate events such as visiting conferences here in Azerbaijan.

The main criteria for the company in our work with corporate clients are the high level of service, flexible price policy, reliability of provided information. Improtex Travel is capable to meet all requirements of clients and offer the widest range of tourism services, including booking of air tickets for all world air companies, auto rental, hotel reservation, transfers, excursions prior hosting high-level business conferences, meetings, workshops and entertainment programs for participants of office parties.


FCJ: Which tours in Azerbaijan and abroad does the company offer to its clients?

Alexander Guliyev: My only answer will be that we have lots of offers in this regard.

It is hardly possible to name them all.

Nowadays everybody, at work or at home, has a personal computer or laptop by means of which every interested person can visit our website by means of Internet and for only several seconds get acquainted with the full list of our offers both on foreign tourism and programs and routes inside Azerbaijan.

Welcome to our site:


FCJ: What is the main distinguishing feature of Improtex Travel?

Alexander Guliyev: In response to this question I would like to ask: which of the currently operating successful tourism companies can place near its logo the words “22 years in the market of tourism services” like we did?     

Well-known tourism specialists engaged in this sphere from 20 up to 40 years have been working for our company for many years. Meanwhile, they are enjoying authority both in our republic and even abroad. Along with the production departments such as the departments for reception of foreign tourists, sending tourists abroad and sale of air tickets we afforded ourselves to open a department for strategic development, marketing and advertisement where employees are busy studying external and domestic tourism markets.





FCJ: Which new projects may Improtex Travel offer its clients?

Alexander Guliyev: Let’s give a distinct clarification of main areas of our activity.

For Azerbaijani clients:

1. Getting a rest with a treatment at thermal resorts of independent states of former Yugoslavia: Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia as well as special programs for coming winter and summers seasons in Slovenia.

2. “Distinguished traveler” package plan tour envisages visiting of 7 Wonders of World in Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Italy, Jordan, India and China.

3. “Be my guest” project which envisages setting of bilateral relationship between travel-lovers of the two countries, paying of mutual visits and provision of private-dwelling houses by both sides for the stay of a foreign guest.

4. “Rural tourism” project provides an opportunity to have a rest in one of the mountain regions of Azerbaijan, stay in a separate guest home or with a family of a rural resident. A foreign guest can get a calm rest in nature’s lap, get familiarized with a lifestyle and economic activities of native residents of a chosen region as well as get engaged in a number of agricultural activities.

Foreign clients and tourism partners:

“The lost worlds” project is a ten day special ethnographic program for those who show interest to customs and ancient traditions of big and small peoples. The schedule of the tour envisages familiarization with national and cultural traditions of Azerbaijanis as well as some other small peoples residing in our republic: Khynalig people, Talysh people, Laghij people, the Udi people, Mountain Jews and others. Crossing through the mountain districts of Azerbaijan the routes reaches up to Georgia where tourists get familiarized with ancient settlements of Tushetia and Kakhetia.

“Zoroastrism” program is a 9-day tour arranged together with Iranian tour operators and familiarizing with the history of fire-worship emergence as well as with traditional ceremonies and temples of one of the most ancient world religions.

“German trace in South Caucasus” (especially for task groups from Germany) is a 10 day program narrating about residence of German migrants in Azerbaijan and Georgia in 19th-20thcenturies.


FCJ: Which foreign companies do you cooperate with?

Alexander Guliyev: Just like in case of your question about trips that we arrange, here, noteworthy is the tens of world leading travel companies that we have successfully cooperated with for many years by sending tourists from Azerbaijan to foreign countries or receiving and servicing them and businessmen in our country. Besides, we are also engaged (as a member of the task force for further cooperation of the member-states in the field of culture and tourism) in the work of such international organizations as GUAM, American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Japanese Association of Travel Agents (JATA), International Group of Silk Road Tour Operators (SRGroup), British Company for Worldwide Hotel Reservation (TRACVO), accredited agent of Transport-Clearing Chamber of Russia, etc. 

I also would like to add the most important moment to the abovementioned – that would be our recent entry into the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).



FCJ: Could you please provide more information about “Travel now, pay afterward” service?

Alexander Guliyev: Improtex Travel offers its clients an option to pay for a tour package (in any route chosen by them) on credit basis. Therefore, a client must choose a route, date of travel and a sum of a tour package that he would like to pay on credit. The credit worth from 1000AZN (minimum) up to 5000 AZN (maximum) will be provided to a tourist by one of the Azerbaijani banks that Improtex Travel has signed an appropriate agreement with. Generally, one calendar year is the period for credit repayment.

Apart from this, buying of a trip ticket from Improtex Travel in summer of 2013, every owner of ALBALI plastic card, provided by Unibank, got a chance to pay for a holiday trip by installments – it means a payment, bearing no interest, in coming three months after a purchase of a trip ticket.



FCJ: What could you tell about your future plans?

Alexander Guliyev: Our main task for future is to withstand the competition with Internet. Independent tourists, especially people residing in districts of Azerbaijan, used to face visa problems when arranging foreign trips. However, now the reception of visa in foreign embassies is no big deal for them. Nowadays, many people are buying tickets and making hotel reservation via Internet. Noteworthy is the growth of independent tourism, and that is a real challenge for travel agencies. Many travel agencies are facing the same problem in foreign countries. I have been engaged in tourism sphere for almost 40 years, and could never imagine that it would be possible to travel without a paper ticket and to fly to foreign countries simply by putting a cell phone on the self-registration booth at airports.

In this regard, I think we have to considerably imporve the level of our services especially in making online reservation through our website. It is important to ensure wide presentation of our activity in Internent and working with the users audicence. It is the social network where I see the promotion of our services.

Apart from this, in the near future we have to work out and offer the population tour packages providing more services than a client may get for the same price in Internet. The quality-to-price ratio of our services must be prefect. Thus, our way out in this situation is not only the growth of our travel services but also guaranteeing of a quality of a service that a client pays for. Prompt fulfillment of client orders also plays a certain role here. It will take a client too much time to get tourism services online and make him doubt the “electronic guarantees”. Many tourists already face problems when booking or paying for air-tickets and hotels online. Using of services of a travel agency, particularly services of tried-and-true company Improtex Travel, means saving of time, confidence and guarantee of satisfaction from a forth-coming travel.


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