Poised to be dnata’s game changer

TravTalk - Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - She­hara Ri­zly

Iain An­drew, Di­vi­sional Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent— Travel Ser­vices, dnata joined the Emi­rates Group in De­cem­ber 2005 and was pro­moted to the cur­rent po­si­tion in 2007. Since then, he has been in­stru­men­tal in strate­gis­ing a new game plan for dnata which serves over 20 brands in 77 mar­kets with more than 5,500 em­ploy­ees.

Cur­rently a Di­vi­sional Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, Iain An­drew is re­spon­si­ble for over­look­ing all as­pects of dnata’s travel busi­ness. There are 20 brands that op­er­ate in 77 mar­kets within dnata’s travel port­fo­lio. This is with an em­ployee count of around 5,500 and the busi­ness types are a mix of tour op­er­a­tors, OTAs, des­ti­na­tion man­age­ment com­pa­nies, travel man­age­ment com­pa­nies, sup­port ser­vices, bed banks and con­tact cen­tres. Equat­ing his role to that of a group CEO, An­drew says, “dnata is a com­plex group of busi­nesses and I would em­power the ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ec­u­tive team to strive for sus­tain­able growth.”

Be­fore join­ing dnata, An­drew was em­ployed by Uni­part, Thomas Cook, Amer­i­can Ex­press, Air 2000 in a num­ber of IT, fi­nance and man­age­ment roles. He also served as Chief In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer for TUI Air­line Man­age­ment. More re­cently, he was em­ployed as the IT and Change Direc­tor for Bri­tan­nia Air­ways as well as CIO for the Dixons Stores

Group. He is a qual­i­fied Char­tered Man­age­ment Ac­coun­tant (ACMA) and holds a de­gree in Busi­ness Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­sity of West­min­ster and a Master of Science in In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and Man­age­ment from Sh­effield Hal­lam Uni­ver­sity.

Wor­thy achieve­ments

Think­ing about var­i­ous sec­tors in the in­dus­try, An­drew finds travel the most dy­namic, ex­cit­ing and as­pi­ra­tional one. He says, “My ed­u­ca­tion back­ground did not start out as spe­cific to the travel trade, but I can hap­pily say that travel is still ful­fill­ing as an in­dus­try for me.” Re­gard­ing the evo­lu­tion of dnata, An­drew says, “When I had joined, dnata was mainly a cor­po­rate travel com­pany which only dealt in this re­gion. It then ex­panded into the B2C land­scape and later on an in­ter­na­tional scale. The com­pany is now made up of an ar­ray of dif­fer­ent types of travel and tourism busi­ness with in­ter­na­tional pres­ence.”

Chang­ing sce­nario

Shar­ing his views on keep­ing pace with the chang­ing world, An­drew says that travel com­pa­nies have be­come tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies to find so­lu­tions to the com­plex­i­ties faced by cus­tomers. He ex­plains, “This re­gion par­tic­u­larly has wit­nessed an out­pour­ing of com­peti­tors – lo­cal start-ups, in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sions and changes of busi­ness model to fill new spa­ces opened up by the chang­ing role of tech­nol­ogy. We are able to stay ahead of the curve of tech­no­log­i­cal change by learn­ing and ob­serv­ing from the ex­pe­ri­ences of our busi­ness across the globe, and also by lever­ag­ing the host of skills and ex­per­tise that re­side within the Emi­rates Group. With our de­ci­sions backed by data, we de­liver work at spee, and put the cus­tomer at the cen­tre of ev­ery­thing we do.”

Tack­ling over­tourism

Ex­press­ing con­cern over the burn­ing is­sue of over­tourism, An­drew com­ments, “The more pop­u­lar a cer­tain site is, the more dis­ap­point­ment it could cre­ate to a trav­eller es­pe­cially while they ex­pe­ri­ence long queues out­side a pop­u­lar at­trac­tion. Places are un­der the threat of be­ing ru­ined and cer­tain lo­ca­tions have al­ready been re­quired to take mea­sures such as Bo­ra­cay tem­po­rar­ily clos­ing down to tourists, Machu Pic­chu putting vis­i­tor quo­tas, Rio’s Christ the Redeemer hav­ing to man­age the in­flow and out­flow of peo­ple, along with a lot of sites start­ing to ban selfie sticks and drones.

We want to find and of­fer you to wit­ness the un­usual and off the beaten tracks. Visa is an­other area of con­cern in travel; it would be nice to have travel open to all.

Cop­ing with chal­lenges

An­drew believes that cus­tomer cen­tric­ity and level of ser­vice are the two most im­por­tant fac­tors for a sus­tain­able travel busi­ness. “In this mar­ket, we have a mix of de­mo­graph­ics that can be chal­leng­ing to meet all ex­pec­ta­tions as they vary greatly; it’s just about get­ting to know your cus­tomers and de­ci­pher­ing the best ways to op­er­ate. Tech­nol­ogy and data helps here too,” he said.

We are able to stay ahead of the curve of tech­no­log­i­cal change by learn­ing and ob­serv­ing from the ex­pe­ri­ences of our busi­ness across the globe, and also by lever­ag­ing the host of skills and ex­per­tise

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