March 2017

76 APAC / March 2017 , 1701AP44 Every Connection Counts Gary Reichenberg, CEO of CT Connections Travel Group, speaks to us about what the company has done to become the success that it is today. CT Connections Travel Group incorporates four business units. The first is CT Connections which provides end to end delivery of complex and sophisticated travel and logistical movements for larger market corporates, typically those who spend more than $2million per annum on air travel. CEO Gary Reichenberg told us how their expertise has helped clients. “We have a high level of expertise around end to end booking tools, mobile applications, portal access to reporting, duty of care, after hours service and expense reconciliations, to name a few. The second business unit is Executive Edge Travel, which provides boutique, high touch, customised travel solutions for SME corporates - those who typically spend less than $1million on travel - as well as high-end luxury leisure travel for discerning travellers. Executive Edge is Virtuoso accredited, which is invitation only, and provides additional benefits for our travellers including upgrades at hotels, spa credits, late check- out, early check-in. “Totem Group is the company’s specialist conference, incentive, event and group travel division. Last but not least, The Departure Lounge is our media hub (launching this year), designed to promote our suppliers as well as our customers, further developing our motto of ‘every connection counts’, which will add value to our suppliers and customers alike by directly promoting their products and services through our dynamic travel media hub. This will work in two ways – one is direct to our customers, the other is through a public facing online travel magazine. “We liaise with a broad range of customers across several industries including pharmaceutical and health care, professional services, mining and infrastructure, agriculture, not for profit, and sporting associations with the AFL, various rugby clubs, Table Tennis Australia and many other sporting codes including PGA Australia. Our academic portfolio includes Swinburne and RMIT Universities.” CT Connections Travel Group has big plans as outlined in their business strategy. Gary expands on this. “Our goal is to have $250 million turnover by 2020. Our strategy to get us there is to continue to segment our customers according to industry channels and leverage relationships – every connection counts, every moment counts, every journey counts, every event counts. These mottos for our respective brands drive our progression forward and define our intentions. We also intend to leverage CEO and CFO level customers so we can book their additional business of personal and family trips so that they can enjoy the many privileges we can offer including Virtuoso and our preferential treatment of clients via our preferred luxury hotel partnerships including Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and other high profile brands. “As a company we focus on three primary attributes: our people, our processes and our technology. We provide an equal weighting across these three categories as opposed to some of our competitors. Part of our strategy always involves answering one question: “What is our relevance to our customer and how can we continue to add value at every interaction?” It seems that in today’s business climate, data is more critical than ever. In our industry, we have a disproportionate amount of data on our clients’ buying and travel behaviours which gives us great insight into how we develop and design our future strategy.” Gary’s dedication and hard work has helped him reach the top of his field, and certain key attributes have helped shape his success. “I’m definitely a positive glass half full type of person. I’m very energetic and a firm believer in having a clear work-life balance. This mentality is promoted to all my staff. We also provide a huge amount of in-house and external training to all our various staff members which allows everyone to develop. “I would say empathy is an extremely important skill I possess, particularly in our industry which requires a high degree of service and customer interaction. I also believe that having a very clear road map and strategy which everyone feels a part of is a key component to success. Ultimately a no- nonsense, mature organisation where we live and breathe our values creates a more enjoyable working environment for everyone. You certainly can’t please everyone all the time; however, I encourage an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking openly. As long as our team is aligned with our values, I think we have a greater chance of success.” Gary concludes by telling us how he thinks the industry has changed and how this has affected business in the current economic climate. “I think our industry has changed, as many have, in light of the new technology disruption that has happened in the marketplace. In addition to that I think one of our greatest challenges is the continual advent of new technologies being deployed - online aggregators, online travel agents and so on - and how you continue to remain relevant to your customer. There has certainly been a proliferation