Say hello to the inspiring people in the industry who’ve chosen ‘travel for life’ as their career. They are ultra passionate, much-loved and inspire others by going above & beyond in their roles.
This week, we caught up with Kylee Kay, the Managing Director of Linkd Tourism who told us about the company’s recent rebrand, the popularity of ‘money can’t buy’ experiences and which industry professionals inspire her every day.
Read on for more of our chat:
What is your role in the industry & what does your day normally look like?
I am Managing Director for Linkd Tourism. Essentially I would spend my days directing trade activity for our multiple accounts and play a much more in-depth role with account management for our wheels product including Alamo and EagleRider, plus our newest destination client – Colorado Tourism.
To my friends who ask what I do for work, I advise I am chief emailer and phone call maker/taker. It’s easier that way as when I start to explain our role to connect supply or destination with the trade – crickets.
What’s happening at your organisation that the industry should know?
Linkd Tourism has just been created as the new trading name for APTMS (Asia Pacific Travel Marketing Services). We have changed our business model in recent years from a sales and marketing representation firm to a full suite sales, marketing and PR agency and are looking to increase our DMC offerings as well as our tourism board representation.
We have also just started executing some pretty cool market research projects and are welcoming the opportunity to do ad-hoc research and project work.
What lesson have you learned recently that you are now implementing?
It’s so cliché, but it is something I think about all of the time – “the older I get, the more I realise I don’t know”.
The lesson that you cannot judge a book by its cover and that everyone has their own stories really is an essential one for us to keep hold of.
Every day in business I realise my perception of another is built only on my historical experience and it is only when I talk to someone, and really listen, do I understand them and as a consequence my own place in our industry, and the bigger picture, the world.
And people are fascinating!
What kind of trends are you seeing with travellers?
Obviously, there is a constant growth in those booking online but what is interesting to me is when my team and I go out on the road, we find Travel Advisors, the really experienced ones, are more and more talking of customised travel as opposed to off-the-shelf.
Everyone is in search now of a “money can’t buy” type experience possibly for bragging rights as our social media personalities become more prevalent.
I am also loving and hearing more the term JOMO (joy of missing out), and how disconnecting from social media and finding those vacation escapes are really becoming prevalent.
Are there any statistics that surprised you? If so what were they & why the surprise?
The most surprising stat this year was that 73 percent of statistics were untrue. I am however pleased to see the growth in the home-based numbers as more and more experienced agents take ownership of their clients to provide them with a truly advised itinerary.
Who inspires you within our industry?
I am constantly inspired. By my own staff whose dedication and loyalty I am so grateful for, to the ladies that run businesses not dissimilar to my own but bigger (Jo Palmer, Sarah Anderson, Kim McKay, Jacquie Walsh) and my own partner in business, Caroline Davidson.
There’s inspiration in the writers like Catherine Marshall who invoke such strong heartfelt emotion, ah the list just goes on and on.
I have had the pleasure of working alongside Penny Spencer years ago and am thrilled at her success and vision and am always so grateful to know Donna Barlow, who this year was an Australian of the Year nominee. Very inspirational.
I love seeing what Matt Leedham is doing with sustainable tourism and really enjoyed working alongside Matt Fletcher at Brand USA on the Visit USA committee.
Where would you like to see the industry in 3-5 years?
I would love to see the value of Travel Advisors firmed with consumers.
Point-to-point travel and basic itineraries can certainly move to 100% technology driven, but experiences and complex itinerary advice needs to be valued by travellers. Ultimately I would love to see Travel Advisors selected via a process based on qualification and result, not dissimilar to real estate for instance where agents are valued and consumers expect to pay a good fee for services.
Value perception needs to be something we all work on to ensure we are not continually squeezed, overworked and under paid for the expertise we bring.
What book or movie would you recommend?
I recently saw the movie The Wife. From a women’s oppression perspective it is such a brilliant piece and for me made me realise how far we have come but how hidden repression still is or must be.
I would also always suggest the movie Life is Beautiful.
And after seeing him speak recently at a conference in Vegas, I recommend Thomas Gartlands’ book Lead with Heart: Transform Your Business Through Personal Connection dispelling the myth that you must separate business and pleasure in the workplace. We are all family. We are all spending a LOT of time together. Why not love each other too?
What message would you share to a student entering the industry for the first time?
Do the hard yards front line as an agent to understand client needs and supply. Move to wholesale temporarily to understand supply from a bulk perspective. Go somewhere online to grasp the customer journey. Study industries and service provisions that can never be replaced by technology. Then find the thing you LOVE to do and work out how to make a living doing it.
Fake it ’til you make it – that is, set your goal and start acting like you’re already there. Pretty soon you will be.
How did you get started within the industry?
I started in the accounting department at Dreamworld in 1988 then moved to Sydney for other accounting roles within travel including Maui Campervans.
From there, my accounting roles morphed to management and sales/marketing/operations which later morphed into pure Sales and Marketing where I found my personality type was better suited.
What is it about the travel industry that you love the most and why?
The people, the places, the dreams and the propensity to learn every day and the constant realisation of how lucky we are in this country and the life we live.
What is it about your organisation that you love & why?
The people. The relaxed atmosphere (not attitude) and the growth we have experienced entirely because we have all worked hard as a team. What you see is what you get. We are all real people.
What has been your most memorable trip?
That is a really hard one. The beauty of Africa and nature reserves is mind-blowing, as is the beauty of the Rockies and even the South Island of New Zealand.
But with my partner we sailed on a small ship cruise around the Hawaiian islands and experienced swimming with the manta rays – that is an absolute standout for us both.
Then there is always Paris – going to Monet’s house and gardens was pretty special to me too. Oh, and then there was India, the list is endless I am very happy to say.
If you could travel anywhere on any budget, where would it be and what would it look like?
Anywhere on any budget would involve Europe and the arts for certain. It would also involve a chartered yacht around the Greek Islands and Croatia down to Spain. Oh, and a super cool nanny.
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Have you worked with Kylee? Share your fun stories.
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