Planning trips and fantasizing of traveling to exotic places since he was a kid, Routehappy Founder and CEO Robert Albert, has made his dreams a reality. At the same time he aims to render airplane travel a happier experience. With an extensive portfolio working in the travel industry, Albert explains his background, gives further explanation of what Routehappy is, and divulges what it’s like to be gay in the business.
Albert is described as the kind of person “pouring through his collection of airtimetables and plotting future trips on road maps while other kids were reading comic books,” Routehappy’s Kellie Pelletier told 429Magazine.
In his teens, he traveled back and forth from Grand Rapids, MI to Perth, Australia as an exchange student. During that time he tirelessly documented his experience to send to loved ones: “from the seats and food to the people and bathrooms.”
”It’s no wonder Bob has helped one travel start-up after another launch and become profitable, and why his newest venture will change the way consumers think about and purchase flights forever,” Pelletier added.
Albert’s career began at the travel office of the US Embassy in Moscow where he managed travel for embassy staff, organizing visits for Congressional and Presidental delegations, and facilitated the opening of new consulates. His weekend and holidays, however, consisted of days aboard Aeroflot, discovering the former Soviet Union. Much of the time his travels were alongside chickens and goats.
After working in an array of roles in the Travelocity Global range of companies, he developed a case of wanderlust. He found familiarity with air travel, managing airline partnerships for Travelocity’s Site50 prior to taking over as general manager. In his new role, he grew the business to its highest levels.
Now with Routehappy, founded with his friend Adam Gwosdof, he is revolutionizing airline travel.
“We built a new breed of metasearch site (think KAYAK, only smarter) to expose the experiential factors flyers care about most such as seat size (pitch and width), Wi-Fi, and entertainment,” Albert said.
“For the first time, a travel site is allowing flyers to weigh comfort, alongside price and schedules.”
Since its launch in April, the site has received rave reviews from the LA Times, Washington Post, Techcrunch, and Mashable.
Also notable is that the company is run by three gay men: the Founder, Co-Founder, and Director of Data.
“Like most of us – LGBT or otherwise unique individuals – it’s been an evolution,” Albert told 429Mag.
“I was out in my private life from college but closeted in my twenties professionally. When I went to business school, I decided to be out from day 1. Despite a few initial gasps, I stuck to my strategy about being nonchalant about it, which made things a lot easier.”
He described that he has felt some pressure in the workplace, however.
“I have absolutely sensed some discrimination in my career. It’s subtle but there. But I do my best to make it a non-issue. I try to do whatever job I’m doing well and just treat everyone with mutual respect. I’ve made it this far without learning to play golf!”
In regards to workplace advocacy, he feels that ENDA should be passed as it is “absolutely the right thing to do.”
“People need protections from ignorance and unfair biases. We’ll get there.”
Routehappy was launched on these principles with the mission to help people fly happier for less.
As for Albert’s favorite airline: “I like too many to list, but in particular, I like all the innovations airlines make, from Delta’s LaGuardia and cabin makeovers, to United’s brand new lounges at Chicago O’Hare, to BA’s new Terminal 5, to Cathay’s service and Korean’s food. I like Air Asia a lot when traveling within in Asia, when I buy the seats with more legroom.”
And his favorite airline amenity: “When the eye mask is the really comfy kind, one you want to take home.”