Navigating Travel in the Post-Pandemic Era
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Navigating Travel in the Post-Pandemic Era

Michael Snyman, Chief Financial Officer, Flight Centre Travel Group
Michael Snyman, Chief Financial Officer, Flight Centre Travel Group

Michael Snyman, Chief Financial Officer, Flight Centre Travel Group

As a CFO, what do you see are the recent challenges and trends amidst the background of the pandemic?

In the wake of the pandemic, travel has become  confusing. Every country has different  rules, travel regulations and required documents which frequently change. Online booking has always and will always have its place in the travel industry , but now more than ever an expert travel consultant is needed not only to assist in booking the most incredible experience but also to advise pre journey on travel requirement and importantly to assist during and post journey if anything goes wrong. Our person-to-person travel models do that and so much more.

With regards to emerging trends, we are seeing more of our customers focused on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for example they are wanting to reduce their carbon footprints as they travel the world on airlines that have heavy carbon emissions or they are wanting to ensure that “in destinations” tours are animal friendly or doesn’t support an underlying slave industry.

We are also seeing companies put more focus and emphasis on knowing where in the world their employees are travelling. We can provide real time reporting so that if a country does have an outbreak or does have borders shut they know exactly who is there and we then can assist in getting them home safely. What are some of the best practices that your company has been taking to navigate  disruptions to the travel industry

The introduction of video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Teams had to replace corporate travel during lockdown because face to face meetings were not an option Initially we thought this would impact our business when travel returns because businesses have proved they don’t need to travel or can work from home, however nothing beats face to face interaction. We are seeing a surge in corporate travel as our global brands are already at 100% of pre covid levels. We continue to invest heavily in brand campaigns and  constantly keep in touch with our customers , letting them know that we are here for them and ready to advise and book travel when they are ready.

Another big focus is ensuring the customer experience is seamless and informative as possible. We strive to deliver amazing travel experiences. We continue to invest in our product and experience in store and online. Booking travel should be fun and easy and we are the best in the world at that.

Where do you stand as an operational leader versus a transformational leader?

The last two years during the pandemic my time has been heavily skewed to focuson  transformational projects within Flight Centre Travel GroupOvernight our business shut down completely but with that it gave us the freedom to rebuild the business.

"We have rebuilt ourselves as a more efficient and effective travel management company that  offers far better product and service to ourcustomers"

We capitlised on this unique opportunity and wanted to  keep all the good parts and where we needed to improve and transform we did exactly that. As the company's CFO and an executive committee member, I have invested a lot of time and effort in the transformational phase but now that travel is well and truly on its way back I can spend a  more time in the day to operations and business as usual.

Could you please discuss some of the leading initiatives that your company has taken recently?

One important initiative in our finance areas it tto globalize and standardize all our transactional finance worldwide as we are operating in over 20 countries. Every country had slightly different ways of doing things and that created inefficiencies globally. Key to this was to ensure we had a deep understanding of our processes and data around the world. Our data strategy, although in its infancy stages, has progressed significantly and Im excited to see there it goes and what it can deliver. 

On the tech front we are using the likes of robotics to streamline repetitive key stroke duties our people are performing. We have invested heavily in our booking platform in our small and medium size enterprise brand Corporate Traveler. Its called “Melon” and I can honestly say its market leading allowing our customers to seamlessly transact through our portal. They are able to find the product they are looking for and book their travel effortlessly .

As a CFO of the company, are there other aspects you have kept in mind to see implemented in your company?

What we strive for is never to be complacent. Our customer's needs are continuously changing, therefore we do our best to be innovative to meet their needs—all our strategies are customer-led. We love having competition as it fuels our need to be continuously better.

What would be your advice for CXOs or CFOs to improve their financial strategies?

Three secrets to any success that I have been fortunate enough to experience has come from dreaming big, continuously working on relationships and the power of story telling. In any plan or strategy you set, if you shoot for mediocrity and safety, then that is what you'll ultimately deliver. I challenge my team to constantly think about how big our aspirations could be if we knew we couldn’t fail.. Likewise, CXOs and CFOs should encourage the team to support them and be committed to the same success factors they are ambitious about. When it comes to relationships its important to work on them and keep them at all levels. Good relationships means the ability to influence and that’s critical for operating at our level. Lastly story telling is something anyone can learn and it has helped me tremendously over my career. I use it every day and helps me t get my message across to whoever it may be whether I be in a one or one or with a crowd of a thousand people. I love what I do and am privileged tow work in such an amazing , people drive business selling the best product on the planet that is holidays and memories.

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