Creative and critical thinking must be fostered in the travel industry if it is to weather the storm of disruption according to serial entrepreneur Melissa Browne.
With mobile devices and Airbnb encroaching on the domains of travel agents and hotels, Ms Browne said disruptive technology is changing the game for travel companies and they ignore it at their peril.
“If there is one certainty in business, it’s that change happens,” she said.
“If I look at every industry I’m involved with there is possible change and even extinction from technology, globalisation or any other number of big changes.
“I think the lesson to be learned is not to be apathetic and believe that change will never happen to your sector.”
In an interview ahead of her presentation at the first annual Travel Industry Exhibition and Conference, Ms Browne said it was important leaders fostered thinkers not doers to survive the inevitable disruption caused by new technology.
“In business today we don’t need an army of drones.
“I think a great leader in a time of change needs to be open-minded and collaborative.
“I think it’s important to ensure everyone in the company knows what is happening and is heard.
“Because often the answer to what the company is facing lies with someone whom you least expect to have the answer; which is why you need to involve all of your people in coming up with solutions.
“Today, more than ever, as leaders we need to adapt and encourage creative and critical thinking in our leadership styles so that our businesses don’t simply survive but thrive in a new era.”
Indeed, thriving in a period of rapid change is central to the conference’s theme, Agents of Change, inspiring delegates to shift the way they think about their business in order to recognise their own value, and increase their customer base.
Ms Browne also said travel firms need to look at their interaction with customers and understand what frustrates them to understand what drives disruption in the industry and how it can be faced.
“We can pout and stamp our feet because we don’t want things to change or we can figure out how we can stand out and succeed in this new age of business,” she said.
“I think one of the biggest lessons we can learn from disruptors such as Airbnb, Uber, Netflix or other disruptors is to really lean into our customers and find out what they need.
“To really understand their frustration and ask how you can seek to do something about that with your business.
“We need to be spending time in our business asking the question, ‘If I was to start a business tomorrow to put me out of business how could I do that?’”
Melissa Browne is an author, media commentator, public speaker and the CEO of accounting firm A+TA, CEO of financial planning firm The Money Barre, and Director of Business at Thinkers,inq preschool.
Ms Browne’s presentation, Original Thinking for Creative Leadership talks about adjusting your businesses thinking to survive and grow during periods of disruption.
Others joining her on the line-up for day two include Michael Chase-Smith, Executive Director of Orbit World Travel with Emerging Technology Trends; Paralympian Dr Jessica Gallagher with Trust – Mindset – Courage (Melbourne only) and Jane Challinor, Director of Real Business Group with Path to Profit.
Conference tickets are available here.
The 2017 Travel Industry Exhibition and Conference will be held from 20-21 July at the Crystal Palace in Sydney’s Luna Park, and 25-26 July at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre.
The free Travel Industry Exhibition is taking place alongside the conference.
Delegates and trade visitors will have a chance to see and discuss the latest products, services and innovations that are setting the travel industry on fire.