Walking the regional talk to take the road less travelled

Publishing, the financial sector, education, journalism: you don’t have to look far to find an industry experiencing digital disruption.

In travel at least, Daniel Finch the managing director of Wotif (owned by the Expedia Group) says the digital landscape brings both pros and cons for everyone involved.

Daniel Finch, Managing director of Wotif, pictured with Chinchilla's Big Melon. 
Daniel Finch, Managing director of Wotif, pictured with Chinchilla’s Big Melon. 

One positive is that consumers planning travel are spoilt for choice:

“[The digital landscape is] giving potential travellers up to the date content right throughout the dreaming phase, planning phase and booking phase,” Finch says.


However, for those same consumers there are some obvious downsides.

“It can be really confusing, because there are so many providers,” he says.

Maintaining an edge in the highly competitive travel sector means playing to the brand’s strengths.
“It’s a noisy landscape with more and more providers coming in … Our job is to be as customer-centric as possible and continually simplifying,” he says.

While Australians are known as active travellers, Finch believes there is scope for more of us to try different destinations beyond ‘’tried and trusted’’ favourites. For Finch this translates to a push by Wotif to encourage visitors to head to regional domestic locations on their next trip.

“I’m really motivated by the fact that 43¢ in every dollar spent on travel is spent in a regional area. That’s important given that so many regional towns are suffering with issues like drought; for us to support that is really meaningful to the industry,” he says.

Out of the office Finch tries to walk the ”regional” talk: a recent trip to Port Fairy was one recent success.

“I hadn’t been down there, so I pitched it to my wife and 10-year old son. It’s a beautiful part of the country; great restaurants and a gorgeous landscape,” he says.

Back in the office, his hiring methodology focuses on passion.

“A passion for travel is key. [But then people need] an understanding of how to link that passion to executing their job through the channels we have,” he says.

He also highly values creativity: “We want to stand out from the crowd.”

Finch aims to leave his team members to their own devices as much as possible.

“Everyone has the autonomy to make good business decisions [here], and I encourage non-stop internal communication and collaboration. There’s really no hierarchy amongst the team and everyone is empowered to challenge decisions,” he says.

If there’s no final agreement, Finch is comfortable making the call.

“I’ll bear the brunt of that decision, good or bad,” he says.

He also is waging a personal war against meetings.

“I’m a big fan of reducing meetings where possible. If it’s a good ‘inform’ session, or a session where we need to walk away with a decision, I’m all for it, but time wasted in meetings is time lost from actually going and executing our jobs.”

Tip from the top

“Be brave in making decisions. Be humble celebrating the good ones and be honest in admitting the bad ones.”

Skilling up for leaders
“Presentation and media training will really take you out of your comfort zone and give you a great sense of self-awareness, confidence and stronger communication skills.”

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Source: Thanks smh.com