Philip Nicholas – Amadeus
No matter where you’re headed, it’s likely Amadeus is helping you get there—without you even realizing it.
Of course, this isn’t a reference to the immortal composer, although Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart visited more than 200 places in Europe before his death in 1791.
Instead, this is about Amadeus, the Madrid-based provider of technology platforms and systems used throughout the travel industry.
Whether making flight and lodging reservations through airlines, hotels or travel agencies or maneuvering your way through an airport, chances are you’re using Amadeus platforms and solutions.
Philip Nicholas has journeyed for more than 25 years with Amadeus. He’s currently vice president, chief counsel and head of industry affairs for the company’s North America operations.
“I’m proud to work for a global leader in one of the world’s largest industries that consistently delivers on leadership, strategic direction and creating professionally rewarding work environments and opportunities for its people,” he says.
In the air, on the ground
Amadeus was founded in 1987 as a global distribution system, or GDS, by Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia and Scandinavian Airlines. The GDS system combines data such as inventory, availability and pricing for airlines, hotels and car rentals that’s made available to travel agencies globally.
The company launched its airline IT business in 2000 and provides common platform technology solutions, including departure control systems used for passenger check-ins, creating and printing boarding passes, baggage handling, load control and aircraft checks for more than 200 airlines, Nicholas says.
Amadeus also helps companies with self-booking tools for corporate travel including online booking, virtual payments, expense management, data and analytics. The solutions allow companies to observe their rules for corporate travel as well.
“Amadeus provides the intel behind it all,” Nicholas says. “We provide the technology backbone structure for travel agencies, airlines, hotels, airports and other large travel industry players.”
A hospitable platform
Amadeus’ common platform reservation and property management solutions for the hotel industry can be tailored for customers—as is the case with the cloud-based central reservations systems, or CRS, it has created for one of the worlds’ largest hotel owners.
The Amadeus CRS is currently replacing that company’s in-house reservation management system and may also include its property management systems.
Nicholas and other members of the Amadeus legal team who specialize in areas including data privacy, security, regulatory and other practice areas have also worked with several firms providing outside counsel to finalize this and other hotel IT outsourcing deals.
“Our IT outsourcing projects are extremely complex, and our in-house legal teams are prepared to meet the challenges,” Nicholas says. “We were also pleased to see effective coordination between our in-house teams and external counsel via Zoom and Teams during COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.”
See the world as you learn
Nicholas says Amadeus’ success in supporting the travel industry with innovative solutions stems largely from the work of its legal teams and the advice and counsel they provide business departments and leaders to help bring deals together.
Many of the company’s lawyers are offered the opportunity to gain legal and business expertise by practicing in different business lines such as distribution, IT outsourcing, regulatory and M&A in different markets.
In fact, Nicholas worked in Amadeus’ Madrid office for three years and says handling projects in multiple countries such as M&A in the U.K., international agency deals in Germany and France, and HR issues in India was an unexpected life experience.
“We recruit and hire top talent, particularly people who are intellectually curious, adaptable and ready for an adventure,” Nicholas says. “We provide these opportunities to ensure our people become more knowledgeable, collaborative and creative. Best of all for me were the lifelong friendships I made and the many cultural experiences my family enjoyed during that time.”
Building relationships and solutions
Offering roles on Amadeus teams around the world expands the legal breadth of knowledge and skills, but Nicholas says building relationships is as important.
“Of course, we need to work hard and be committed to excellence,” he says. “But when you combine your professional commitment with empathy for those around you, and a genuine interest in the lives of the people you work with, opportunity and blessings seem to follow.”
A native of Indiana who went south to earn his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Florida International University, Nicholas says he knew he wanted to become an attorney.
He earned his J.D. from the University of Miami Law School, where he was also part of a student negotiating team that won a national championship in a competition the American Bar Association sponsors annually. He’s also taught litigation skills at the law school as an adjunct professor since 1999.
Nicholas began his legal career as a litigator in private practice, focusing on commercial disputes and made the switch to in-house for quality of life reasons. He also met his wife at Amadeus—she recently retired after working there for 34 years.
“It is an understatement to say it’s been a blessing to be an integral member of the Amadeus legal team, and to have worked with great people for such a dynamic company these many years,” Nicholas says.
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer IV 2023 Edition here.
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