Look to the leaders for travel career inspiration – but look to your left and right too

Look to the leaders for travel career inspiration – but look to your left and right too

Some of the most impressive leaders in travel today will take the stage of the first TTG Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders conference, taking place at WTM London this year.

David Speakman, Jennifer Atkinson, Brian Young, Jeannette Linfoot… names to inspire our delegates to forge their own paths to the top of the travel industry in the UK and beyond.

Yet the motivation, and the relationships that will truly take travel’s young people to the pinnacle of the industry, are just as much likely to come from the people to your left and right.

The conference, taking place on Wednesday November is the child of the TTG 30 Under 30 – an annual initiative kicked off in 2012 by the Travel Trade Gazette (TTG), our UK weekly magazine, to uncover the 30 in the travel industry under the age of 30 most likely to be travel’s leaders of the future.

Following entries and nominations, our many entries are sifted through and entered, with the group invited to dinners to listen and mix with some of today’s travel CEOs and managing directors, while they see their profiles raised in the pages of the magazine and on our website.

But five years on – and five different intakes of the 30 under 30 later – and I know that to a man and woman they will each describe the relationships they have made among each other as the principle benefit of the scheme. The tour operator that pivoted to a trade policy after mixing with others. The senior public affairs adviser at a major corporate travel business that regularly meets with other TTG 30 Under 30 alumni to keep a different perspective. The many group members who have seen genuine business transactions spark up following the meetings.

Most would say that the biggest learning they have taken from the programme simply lies in the networking – not only in those new relationships with their peers, but in understanding the value for their job and their career of building a strong business network.

There is a joke about the many UK travel industry stalwarts that join the travel industry conference circuit, moving from sunny foreign clime to sunny foreign clime to hear the latest industry highlights and trends. “What are you doing here then?” delegates might say around the hotel pool. “Networking, or not-working?!

Those that do it well know that successful networking is the very antithesis of not working. Meeting new people in a business setting requires confidence, it requires persistence and it requires skill. It was a concept that I had barely grasped myself eight years ago when I first came into the travel industry in 2010 but is definitely one that I have embraced. To which I attribute a great deal of the success of TTG Media since I set the business up independently, and without the benefit of a corporate safety net, in 2013.

It is by building a strong network of like-minded advisers and business contacts outside of your company that will truly help broaden your horizons, and will help you towards an exceptional leadership role within travel, if that is your goal.

So do come along to the TTG Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders conference at WTM London on November 8th. Hear from some of today’s great leaders, and from some of today’s brilliant young entrepreneurs. But perhaps most importantly, look to the person sat on either side of you, and see what you can learn. In the longer term, that could be the real path to leadership.

Apply for a free place at the TTC Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders Conference at WTM London on Wednesday 8th November. Find out more on the event page or visit TTG’s website.

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