Insight Into MAG-O – a Digital Agency with a difference!

Ahead of our next Insight Into event, we caught up with a couple of the key stakeholders at MAG-O the exciting start up digital agency with a difference, who are on a mission to disrupt and develop digital concepts that will change the way people travel.

Nolan Hough – MD and Kelly Singleton – HR Director, are part of an exciting panel meeting in Manchester on Thursday to discuss everything digital – get your free ticket HERE

Alongside being focused on keeping MAG-O at the cutting edge of innovation, they are passionate about people and will be sharing their experiences on attracting and retaining the best talent.


Nolan Hough LI Kelly Singleton LI


What does the MAG-O team do?

We are MAG’s very own digital start-up. We are an arms-length digital agency, responsible for trading, marketing, distribution and building our e-commerce platforms to grow existing and new revenue streams. A dedicated digital business tasked with building stress-free, customer-centric omni-channel experiences for our customers. We cover everything from driving traffic into the ‘funnel’ (through distribution, Search and digital marketing), to revenue management, product management, product development, analytics & insight, conversion rate optimisation (user-research & design) & tech development (software engineering, testing, architecture & delivery).

What is our vision?

To be the world’s best airport ecommerce business. Delivered through industry leading trading, distribution, product and technology.

How many people are in the team?

We have 60 people in the core team however can flex up to around hundred as projects require, augmented with teams from leading digital agencies such as Code Computer Love and Thoughtworks. As we have started to in-source some activity we have projected our growth to 100 people by December with further roles planned for next year.

What is the ambition for MAG-O, both in the short and long-term?

At MAGO our vision is to create customer centric, stress-free digital travel experiences. Customers are getting used to excellent digital experiences. They don’t compare us to other airports but rather to UBER or AMAZON. Customers have a low tolerance threshold to clunky, poorly designed digital experience and are more than willing to click off our site if it doesn’t meet their expectations. We need to have the right functionality, that does clever stuff and makes life easier. It has to be slick, it has to be polished and needs to look good.

If we can build omni-channel digital experiences which add value to the customer, we believe we can add value to MAG. With the right platform we will be able to monetise the digital journey, cross-selling and upselling, building relationships with our customers and all the while gaining valuable insight to inform future products, services and strategies. We are ambitious! We are on a journey together and aiming to double our revenue in 5 years, we want our teams to be stretched, to develop and broaden themselves.  Where we have gaps we’re aiming to hire the best talent either from within our business or out in the market.  We also want the teams to push themselves, be customer-centric, create a culture of innovation, not afraid to fail and commercial to the core. We also want them to have fun doing it.


MAG - Plane

Are you making money?

Totally! We’ve had a great year so far despite being a fledgling business.  Year to date we are £3m ahead of business plan (to end of July) and have grown income by £7.8m YOY. In terms of revenue per passenger (yield) YTD, we are £0.13 ahead of plan and up £0.20 year on year (YOY). Given every £0.01 per passenger above plan represents £223k additional revenue (22.3m passengers year to date), stripping out the impact of passenger volumes,  the team has generated an incremental £2.9m to plan and grown the business by £4.5m YOY.  Not only are we smashing our incredibly stretching revenue target in year 1, but we are doing this whilst building a new business from the ground up and building our tech and talent capability along the way. I’m incredibly proud of what the team together with our airports and Group functions has accomplished.

What are the key projects the team are working on at the moment?

We have three core projects and a host of secondary projects.  The core projects are (1) building an online retail ecommerce platform, (2) re-imaging our websites experiences and (3) insourcing our car parking reservations system where we own the code and are able to develop it owning all intellectual property (IPR) in the future.  Other projects include building VIP products, travel insurance, concierge services, Fast Track Immigration, Apps, ChatBots & new distributing deals just to name a few.

What are the lessons from MAG-O that other teams and departments could use?

We learned early on that we needed to create the kind of business we wanted to work in.  Supported with the correct tools (Microsoft Teams/Slack etc.) and cutting across silos to create multi-functional teams around projects has been the biggest learning. We need to look beyond our functional department and create an environment for innovation, testing, learning and failing fast. It’s agile at its best and drives value both in terms of speed and quality of delivery.  If we could find a way to do this we could transform our business.

What have been your favourite parts of the last year?

Our disconnect to connect was definitely a highlight. 30 of us in a mountain cabin having to brave cliffs, near-drowning and caving. We came out of that with some really solid commitments to each other which we have fulfilled. Now we have doubled in size we are running disconnect to connect 2.0 to take us on the next leg of the journey. The whole thing has been incredible and looking back over the last year at what has been achieved makes us all really proud. Looking forward to the next leg is incredibly exciting!

If you’re from the digital and tech community then feel to come along to listen, learn, explore and connect.or simply enjoy your fair share of pizza and beers!

Event Invite September 2017