Gai Tyrrell’s journey in travel is proof that hard work pays off, working her way from a Qantas sales consultant in the late 80s to Managing Director Australasia for the Globus family of brands.
If you were to look up the meaning of tenacious in the dictionary, you’d see the words: Gai Tyrrell.
When Gai knows what she wants, you better get out of the way.
Gai decided she wanted to work in travel after flying home from her London trip and hearing the welcome home message from the flight attendant. She was going to ditch uni and work for Qantas. She just had to get a job.
After hounding the Victorian state manager, Gai secured an interview with Qantas. Not leaving anything to chance, she famously produced 150 reasons why she had to work for Qantas and started to read them out. She didn’t stop until she was given the role of sales consultant!
What’s happening in your business, and how does the forthcoming period look?
We are in ‘go mode!’… as in “on your marks, get set, go!” And we’re quietly confident, judging by the feedback from our customers and partners.
During the pandemic, we supported our customers, trade partners and team while embedding new covid requirements into our operations.
We also took time to redesign our product offerings based on how people want to travel, where they want to go and what would matter most to them.
Internationally, we designed more small group tours and tours to ‘undiscovered’, less crowded and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Closer to home, we added a new range of tours in NZ and Australia in preparation for trans-Tasman travel.
What are you excited about right now?
It’s fabulous to welcome our customers back, to see optimism returning to our industry, and to feel the buzz within our team.
It’s tremendously exciting to see what travel can do: how the reopening of travel is helping people find joy and confidence again.
Are there trends you are seeing that are driving change in your business or the industry?
Across all of our brands, river cruising is very strong. Bookings, in some cases, are higher than pre-pandemic levels!
People are drawn to the luxury small-ship experience, active discovery whilst cruising and especially the reassurance of behind-the-scenes operational integrity.
I also think that repeat travellers will help rebuild our industry: those confident, experienced travellers returning to favourite places or keen to experience a new destination.
What are the biggest challenges for travel?
We are moving out of the standstill, but travel demand may take a while to recover to pre-Covid levels fully. That will come in time as travellers return with positive stories of accessible travel experiences.
For a while, there will be a period of adjustment until people become accustomed to new processes which vary between destinations and countries.
What about the biggest opportunities?
The upside of the new requirements for travel is the excellent opportunity it poses for trade. The services of travel agents have never been more critical.
How important is leadership right now? What should good leadership look like?
In terms of our industry and, in fact, our country, I can’t think of a time when there was a greater need for decisive and authentic leadership.
I have very clear views on leadership, most notably that it is a privilege. It is a responsibility, and it can be tough.
It’s okay not to have all the answers and knowledge, which is why we build solid teams.
To be a leader, your responsibility is to act like a leader. Ultimately you need to back your judgement, trust your core values, stay true to your decisions and treat everyone with due respect.
Most importantly, never forget that success is about mutual happiness or at least satisfaction and respect.
How critical is collaboration in the industry?
Collaboration is everything, and relationships underpin collaboration.
For our industry to recover and thrive again, we must appreciate that every one of us is trying to rebuild. That calls for compromise, flexibility and, yes – kindness. There’s nothing weak about that.
Now is not the time to be cut-throat competitive; it’s a time for cooperation (so long as it’s not illegal!) for mutual recovery.
Do you think enough emphasis is being placed on sustainability in travel and addressing the climate crisis?
There can never be enough emphasis on sustainability in travel or sustainable tourism development. Right now, it’s even more important to talk about the responsible recovery of tourism.
With many destinations emerging from a two-year plus pause, everyone must consider how we can restart tourism with the least possible impact.
At Globus family of brands, we constantly examine how we can do more, waste less, tread lightly, and give greatly.
We support numerous like-minded organisations via our Lighthouse Project, which highlights nearly 50 causes focused on the ‘Planet,’ ‘People, ’ and ‘Places’.
Sustainability is not only a vital consideration for us but the majority of travellers.
We have implemented a raft of environmental initiatives within our operations. We are eliminating single-use plastics, reducing paper waste by 95 per cent on board and securing locally produced food and beverages. Between now and 2024, we will pilot a program to use biofuel.
We are aiming to reduce total carbon emissions by 50 per cent. We simply see it as a responsibility.
What are your learnings from the pandemic?
Expect the unexpected but don’t let it overwhelm or stop your progress. Change has been rapid and constant, so it’s essential to keep a steady eye on what’s happening.
Do you need to adjust the glide path, re-examine the plan or maybe revisit your vision? That holds true for work and home.
What’s your message to the industry?
Hang in there, proceed with confidence and work together. If ever there was a time to share insights and experiences for collective benefit, it is now.
Gai Tyrrell is the Managing Director, Australasia at Globus family of brands. You can find out more about Gai or get in touch via her LinkedIn profile.
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