To start off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey in the travel industry?
Im currently CEO of Trust My Group which through its various companies provides financial protection, failure insurance and payment solutions to travel companies around the world.
I started out in travel running school and university sports tours with a friend from university; moved to a big UK Tour Operator and was then running a DMC in Oman offering luxury camping tours into the desert. I then found myself getting involved in the ‘plumbing’ of the industry which I love, still keeping me connected with the industry, and destinations but exploring other angles of it.
What do you love most about working in travel?
The people and places – there are no two ways about it travel is always inspiring and aspirational, so many places to capture the imagination and explore. People feed off that and you can tell by their outlook on things that they are in travel, Ive made so many great friends in the industry.
And dare we ask the worst part?
My main grievance with the industry is that at times its slow moving, often running on legacy systems but worst legacy mentality, “but its always worked that way”. Things are changing and COVID maybe gave it the kick up the bum it needed but I think companies could be doing more, from technology to sustainability, to better (or atleast more transparent) customer protection.
What emerging trends in the travel industry do you believe will significantly impact marketing strategies in the next few years?
The buzz word is sustainability at the moment. Its still in its infancy for many and the challenge from a marketing perspective will be that a) you are doing what you say you are doing but b) you can show that transparency. Cynically there is quite a lot of greenwashing in this industry, as with many others. There are a lot of companies doing a lot of good though as well and my hope is they can, and do, shine through. .
I’d love to see more discussion on financial protection and risk but its not sexy enough for many, however important.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in marketing travel experiences today, and how do you address it?
Differentiation – there are some many companies doing, and selling, the same thing and often where price is the differentiating factor which for most clients simply isnt enough. Credibility around your company, points of differentiation in your product, and transparency in the booking process are all crucial to get customers over the line.
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
Africa, which I appreciate is a massive continent but no matter where I go it always captures my imagination. Being out in the bush with the sounds of nature, the amazing sunrises and sunsets is just awe-inspiring.
How has technology, such as social media or AI, changed the way you approach marketing in the travel sector?
We rely heavily on social media to get our message out and that engagement is certainly crucial to try and get across the offering, but also that human side of things which I think appeals to customers. We don’t currently use AI for marketing, only on the tech side of our product and the ability to help us continually monitor and assess risk.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in travel today?
Just go for it, its a great industry to work in and has so many diverse opportunities around the world, working with different people and cultures. Especially when you are starting out immerse yourself in all you can, visit as many places as you can, meet as many people, and make lots of memories.
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