Andy Freeth, managing director, dnata Travel
Call me a geek, but I’m a big James Bond fan.
The gadgets, the martinis, the travel and, if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t mind being able to turn heads in my Speedos like Daniel Craig can. I mean, how does the man do it? He is always travelling and he never seems to sleep…
We love Bond because he does what he wants. He drinks all day on a tropical beach with a beautiful woman and drives incredible cars very fast and doesn’t worry about his insurance.
I know he’s a fictional character and different rules apply, but humour me here. With the new Bond film about to open in cinemas, I thought I’d share with you a list of things that I think the travel industry has in common with 007.
Bond has been around since the 1950s and yet his appeal remains strong. With each new Bond character, the inherent values stay the same – he’s cool, he’s suave and he always gets the girl. However, each portrayal is updated to ensure it is still relevant to a new generation.
“Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that anymore,” is one of the standout lines from 2012’s Skyfall; younger viewers find it amusing, while older ones appreciate the subtlety.
The travel industry is similar. The way we book holidays has changed dramatically over the years but the values all stay the same. The customer always wants a holiday; they want a good deal; they want to feel informed; and they want security. We are a hardy bunch when it comes to travel but the ongoing support from an experienced travel agent has never been more important for holidaymakers.
Bond has a friend in every city; he knows the value of a good social network. I’ve long banged the drum about the importance of new-fangled social media, but don’t forget good old-fashioned networking at events or training days too.
Many of us are in travel for the long haul, having learnt the ropes from the ground up. The importance of a trusted contact, wise sounding board or mentor should never be underestimated. There is no way I would be where I am today without the help of fantastic colleagues and friends within the industry.
Every good Bond sleeps with one eye open and knows that best-laid plans have a nasty tendency to veer off course. It’s fair to say that as an industry we have had our share of unexpected issues. This summer alone the industry has been kept on its toes. Our resilience and ability to cope in a crisis is one of our defining qualities.
While I’m in no way advocating that a smile, sharp suit and plying your co-workers with martinis is the way to get ahead, the simple act of being nice goes a long way in this industry. Bond is a master of sophisticated charm while getting the job done.
I’m lucky enough to have worked with some very inspiring people during my career and I like to think I could share a martini with the best of them.
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