- For more than 30 years, Ad Latjes, President of European Travel Network, has been at the forefront of the international travel scene, introducing new trendsetting products, innovative (marketing) techniques, and organizing international cooperation.
- Few Europeans have had such a major impact on the liberalization of air fares in Europe as Latjes, through his never-ending fights for more affordable air fares.
- Latjes has put his words into action, while other still dream.
Let history speak for itself:
- Latjes sells the first discounted air tickets on the continent of Europe.
The first tickets have to be bought in London, because airlines on the European Continent are afraid to upset the established travel organisations.
- Many European travel agents claim 'discounted air fares' are merely a temporary problem, stemming from the overcapacity on many routes after the introduction of Jumbo planes.
These travel agents only see a lower commission per passenger without realizing more people will travel at lower rates.
- Only after Latjes' unique advertising campaign during many years on the frontpages of leading Dutch newspapers, costing millions of guilders, are other travel agents forced to follow his initiative, and start selling discounted air fares.
Hundreds of thousands of travellers take advantage of this 'Latjes' effect on air fares.
- Before IBM invented its first PC, Latjes updates the lowest air fares in the first Air Tariff computer in the Dutch travel industry.
- This was initially dismissed as the hobby of a computer freak, but now it is very hard to imagine such a database without a computer.
- Latjes becomes the first Information Provider in the Dutch travel business on a new medium,
Viditel, the Netherlands videotext service and the Dutch Telecom's equivalent of Minitel in
France and Prestel in England.
- During the first half of 1981 Latjes' 8000 information pages are the most popular on Viditel.
- 15 Years before the Internet revolution started, Latjes did foresee the power of networked
computers and invested heavily in this new technology.
- Unfortunately the modems were too slow, the market too fragmented, the computers too
weak and the investors too hesitant, so Videotext became an expensive and early failure in most countries.
Latjes had to wait 15 more years before his dream of a networked world became reality.
- Official opening of the Dutch Telecom telefax service in Latjes' office.
It is very rare to find an office without a fax nowadays !
- KLM starts a desperate lawsuit against Latjes as many KLM-agents have threatened the airline because of Latjes' unique success.
- Latjes tells the judge he is not a KLM-agent, and KLM is told to let Latjes sell tickets for fares set by Latjes.
- KLM foresees a breakdown of the IATA fare structure and uses 'strong-arm' tactics to cause Latjes' bankruptcy.
- 16 Princesses of Discount Travel lose their job with the most publicized and well-known travel agency in The Netherlands.
- After this shock-wave in the Dutch travel business, the World's first Travel Guarantee Fund scheme is introduced in which most Dutch travel agencies participate.
- However, Latjes continues his struggle for lower air fares, even after losing a battle.
- Ad Latjes opens Malibu Travel in Damrak 30, Amsterdam. The Main Street in The Netherlands for millions of foreign tourists. A huge potential market awaits.
- Within years Malibu is an established stopping-place on the journeys of many inter-continental travellers.
Recommended by travel guides and mass media worldwide, tickets are sold to travellers
of all nationalities, especially after the introduction of international toll-free numbers
and Europe-wide satellite teletext services.
- Malibu becomes Europe's leading authority on discounted air fares.
The European integration becomes more and more a challenge for Malibu Travel.
- Malibu Travel opens the first toll-free telephone number from the USA to The Netherlands.
Via this transatlantic hotline hundreds of tickets are sold directly to the American consumer, thanks to the highest dollar exchange rate after the Second World War, and advertising in the US largest newspapers.
- This summit of international telemarketing gives Malibu a big name in the USA.
More toll-free numbers follow in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands.
- Malibu Travel is the first advertiser on the first commercial teletext service of the European satellite TV stations.
Over 75 million Europeans can check day and night low-cost air fares from The Netherlands, the cheapest ticket market on the Continent of Europe.
- These widely publicized fares force airlines in the rest of Europe to lower their fares.
USA and other markets overtake Germany as the biggest export market for low-cost tickets from The Netherlands.
- In April 1986 Latjes organizes the first of many bi-annual Discount Air Travel Conferences for discount ticket suppliers from 33 countries.
- 15 Years of experience and know-how make these meetings an instant success, highly appreciated by all participants.
- Agents start buying from countries with inexpensive tickets.
Also a worldwide exchange of experienced personnel starts.
Ticket specialists benefit from this exchange of information and improve their unique discount air tariff knowledge.
- World market air fares start to level, eliminating the need to travel to neighbouring countries in Europe for cheaper fares.
- Malibu introduces the speaking (fax) computers, combining all possibilities of the computer, (fax) and telephone. Passengers can call 24 hours a day to hear the lowest air fares, to order tickets, to get a farelist faxed, and can be called, without any human interference.
- Malibu starts a lawsuit against KLM because of its refusal to board Malibu' passengers in Amsterdam, travelling on cheaper imported KLM tickets, which is against the European anti-trust/monopoly rules.
- KLM shares drop 15% in one week. Shareholders get scared KLM cannot survive in a greater European market with more competition.
- Because of the complexity of the matter, the Amsterdam Court refers the case to a higher (European) Court.
- The European High Court in Luxembourg publishes a judgement which might be important for Latjes' case against KLM.
- Escorted by the complete Dutch press, radio and TV, Latjes checks in at Amsterdam Airport with a passenger travelling on a cheap KLM ticket imported from London.
- KLM doesn't dare to refuse the passenger and carries him.
In front of the assembled press, KLM promises not to refuse any more passengers
on these cheaper imported KLM tickets.
- Travel agents attending the Discount Air Travel Conferences realize there is demand for a network of discounted hotels and incoming agents across the Globe to complement their ticket sales.
- Latjes becomes the founder of ETN, European Travel Network, and creates Europe's first Travel Card.
- The ETN concept benefits everyone. The budget-minded traveller or the discerning businessman can choose from a wide range of hotels and local tours to fit their specific itinerary. Card holders receive the best possible rates as hotels don't have to pay travel agency commission, and all transactions are handled directly.
- The ETN network is expanding rapidly, as there are no fees to participating hotels and incoming agents, however they must sign an agreement confirming discounts and offer ETN Card holders a perfect service.
- Over 9500 hotels, restaurants, car rentals, shops and travel agents in 185 countries
welcome ETN Card holders and this number is still growing.
- After a 5-day interview for the
Dutch august 1990 edition of Playboy magazine, Ad Latjes decides
to write an autobiography about his first 19 turbulent years in the Dutch travel business.
- 13 Years later this autobiography is published on the Internet in
English (150Kb) and Dutch
(with photos, 2350 Kb and
without photos, 175Kb)
- Malibu starts a second lawsuit against KLM as all passengers buying discounted KLM tickets in London are required to sign a form stating they are not Dutch nationals.
- Again a major violation of European laws which ensure freedom of competition within
the European Union.
This discrimination of nationality is a serious offence contravening the Constitutions of
most countries of the World.
- Although KLM withdraws this statement one hour after Malibu informs the Dutch
press about it, Malibu files again a complaint against KLM with the Amsterdam Court.
- Again the same President of the Amsterdam Court is powerless to pass judgement, in the wake of more wide-reaching European laws.
- However, KLM withdraws its nationality restrictions and promises in Court to carry all passengers, despite its ongoing dispute with Malibu Travel.
- Singapore Airlines refuses to board Dutch nationals from German airports for the lower fares available in Germany.
This condition is withdrawn after ETN threatens legal action.
- Only after intervention by ETN and the European Commission, a criminal court case
against a British travel agent in the London Court was cancelled.
- This agent purchased Virgin Airways business class Amsterdam - London -
Los Angeles tickets in The Netherlands, pulled out the first coupon Amsterdam - London, and
saved the passengers a lot of money by boarding passengers in London on these
- Virgin Airways had filed a complaint with Scotland Yard because of fraud by the travel agent.
This shows how Virgin calls importing tickets which Virgin dumps
outside their home market.......
- With moral support from the European Commission, Malibu starts a third court case against KLM and receives overwhelming support from both the public and press.
- The European Commission cannot proceed against KLM as the conflict involves air fares to a point outside the European Union.
- Malibu demands KLM lowers the Amsterdam - Accra fares (ca.Nlg.3000,-) to the
discount level KLM offers in London for the same route (ca.Nlg.2000,-), or to the level
of a destination of comparable distance, for example New York (ca.Nlg.1000,-).
- Latjes realizes that Internet will be the perfect infrastructure for his worldwide
network of agents and accommodations.
- As soon as the first commercial Internet Service Provider starts operating in The Netherlands,
Latjes starts building his own website which is opened in May 1995.
- Although Latjes loses also his latest battle against KLM in the Dutch courts,
KLM realizes that Latjes is fighting for a genuine demand of the European passengers.
- Outside the court KLM agrees to accept Dutch nationals boarding at Amsterdam airport
with cheaper foreign tickets purchased outside The Netherlands.
- On demand of many passengers, ETN starts on 16 March 1996 its
unique Fare Requests Program and receives 400 requests on the first day.
- The number of requests grows to a daily average of 8000, which
gives 750 travel agents in 125 online countries a potential turnover of US$ 3 billion on flights,
hotels, cars, tours and cruises.
- ETN receives the European Commission Award for the best travel site in Europe.
- In 1997 Yahoo Magazine calls ETN's Discount Airfares Home Page
'without question, the mother lode of resources for finding cheap fares'
- Many hundreds of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV programs around the
World give attention to the ETN Website because it makes the global market of
discounted airfares almost 100% transparant.
- Passengers email ETN every day their
comments about the site, and more than 50 percent has bookmarked the ETN site.
- ETN and Malibu Travel close their offices in Amsterdam and open
a virtual online office
- Fax and regular mail are still read but answered by email.
- Existing business relations with offline companies are cut off.
In ETN's opinion, offline travel companies don't have any future.
Radio interview met Ad Latjes (25 April 1997)
- Latjes realizes he can maintain and operate his Website from any location
on planet Earth which has modern communication lines.
After considering many places in the World's Sunbelts, Latjes decides to
move to one of the rare locations where the Ocean, the Jungle and Western
Civilization meet each other:
the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in Central America
- First paid advertising was on GoTo.com which later changed its name into Overture.com and
which is now Yahoo Search Marketing
- In 2002 ETN started advertising on Google Adwords and in 2006 on Microsoft's Adcenter
- Because of his long-time experience with low-budget online advertising, Latjes now also manages many
online advertising campaigns for other advertisers
- The Internet has given Latjes the freedom to live and work wherever he wants
- As token of his great appreciation, Latjes decides to offer
many FREE services for customers all over the World
- The purpose is not to make any money, but to help everybody to create a profitable
business on the Internet which will give them the same freedom which Latjes
enjoys so much.
- Since the Internet Stone Age (1994-1996) Latjes is intrigued by 'talk over the Internet'
Unfortunately this was not possible in the beginning due to low-bandwidth Internet connections
- In 2004 broadband Internet became widely available in most parts of the World and Latjes
Voice and Video applications page and
Voice over IP page
- ETN has appointed ETN Card Sales Agents all over the World.
- Newspapers, magazines and TV programs in many countries report about the unique European Travel Card.
- ETN leads the way to a bright online future for hundreds of online travel agents.
Its most successful agents have gone 100% online and have increased their
efficiency drastically, which is reflected in lower airfares for the passengers.
- International cooperation is the only way to survive for independent travel
agents, and Internet is the perfect tool.
- Latjes is 'World-Famous' in The Netherlands because of his guest appearances in the most
popular talk shows on the Netherlands TV and radio.
- All newspapers in The Netherlands have frequently reported about his adventures.
- Ad Latjes is a man of integrity and principles, whose creative solutions and unique insights into international marketing are not governed by self interest, or short term publicity stunts.
- His aim is to make travelling more affordable for everyone, and to ensure airlines don't impose unlawful restrictions upon the freedoms of European citizens.
Chat or speak with Latjes' office in the jungle of Costa Rica