Speaker Interview: Michael Chase-Smith
Michael Chase-Smith, Executive Director of Orbit World Travel & MD for Chase Business Consulting
Michael Chase-Smith is the Executive Director of Orbit World Travel, the largest independently owned Trans-Tasman travel management company. He is also the Managing Director of Chase Business Consulting, which focuses on software development and business management in the travel sector. Michael has over 25 years of experience in the travel industry, often focusing on technology innovations and how they can provide a competitive edge.
Ahead of his presentation at the 2017 Travel Industry Expo, Michael Chase-Smith sat down with us to talk about where technology is taking the travel industry, and the importance of staying up to date on the newest innovations.
• How technology is bettering the customer experience through better data analysis and personalisation.
• Skills travel company leaders will need to embrace to maintain their client base and grow in the tech-driven future.
• The importance of having the right people, with the right skills, in the right place.
Your presentation is talking about technological trends in the travel industry; can you give us a sneak peek as to what you’ll be talking about?
Technology is now evolving faster than ever and travel is an industry where much of what’s evolving can play a part. Virtual Reality and now Augmented Reality are two areas which are advancing fast. Artificial Intelligence and messaging platforms are now assisting travellers with advice to book travel. It’s all tying in more now with the need for better data and personalisation and what this can do to improve the traveller experience, optimise choices pre-trip, and staying connected with the traveller during the trip.
Can travel companies survive in today’s climate if they aren’t also IT companies?
Simply… yes. Travel companies can survive and thrive but they have to really understand the business they are in today. They can’t be all things to all travellers. They still need great people and great expertise but now more than ever need to focus on the customers they want. Having the right technology partners to provide the necessary solutions to keep their customers engaged and attract new customers is now critical.
If the travel industry is due for a huge technological step-change, what are the most important skill sets a travel industry professional/leader will need in the next 10 years?
The ability to see the need for change and embrace change is a constant in the travel industry. Now with so much new technology, and innovators disrupting the way bookings are done, or how travellers are communicated with, travel company leaders need to be even more aware of the technological developments out there. They need to get a strong understanding of their business in this new tech world, how can it maintain its client base and grow, and what technology and tech partners they should work with to evolve their business. Technology and change is more dynamic and fluid than it’s ever been. Leaders thinking what they’ve done in the past that led to success, will automatically lead to success in the future; will be making a big mistake.
As the owner of a travel company, what is your personal leadership philosophy?
Our people are still our greatest and most important asset. Without them having the right experience, training, passion and ability to embrace technology, we wouldn’t have many customers and we wouldn’t retain them. While we are very technology focussed Travel Company, developing many of our own solutions, we still need good people to get the most out of the tech and ensure our clients have a great experience.
What excites you about the travel industry?
It just keeps experiencing constant change. Whether it be new technology for the Travel Company, or new booking systems for corporate or holiday travellers. What are the airlines doing now or what are the hotels and car rental companies doing next? There is constant change. Also it is the travel industry, so it’s exciting because travel is a necessity for many and a passion for most.
Michael Chase-Smith will discuss technology and more, in further detail as part of his presentation, “Emerging Technology Trends”, at The Travel Industry Exhibition & Conference 2017.
This must-see industry event will run in Sydney from 20-21 July in the Ted Hopkins Room, Crystal Palace – Luna Park and in Melbourne from the 25-26 July at the MCEC (Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre).