The past, present and future of travel

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The past, present and future of travel

ITB Berlin is long behind us but I am reflecting on those three days and how nice it was to see industry friends again after four years. There is just nothing like meeting people face-to-face and even though I also participated at virtual trade shows, including virtual ITB, it just was not the same. Maybe I am old fashioned and of a generation that prefers human interaction to seeing someone on a computer screen?

ITB Berlin after the COVID years felt like COVID never happened. It was business as usual. The focus was on the future and those difficult years a memory many of us would rather strike out. Reunions were happy; some maybe even melancholic with lots of smiles on faces that possibly got a bit older with a few more wrinkles and definitely wiser.

What I always enjoy tremendously are multi-generational meetings with family-owned companies. Fathers, mothers or even grandfathers bringing their offspring, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, into the world of tourism and into their companies. With many, I have been working with them even before I co-founded Asian Trails and I love the fact that we have been doing business for 20, 30 or even more years. I know their successes, their ups and downs, their strategic changes, their advances in technology. Such talks often ended late into the night with maybe one glass too much and lots of coffee the next morning when we sat down to the more serious aspects of business.

Pictured (left to right): Bjorn Schimanski, Managing Director of Asian Trails Indonesia; Laurent Kuenzle, Asian Trails’ CEO; and Emir Cherif, Managing Director of Asian Trails Malaysia/Singapore.

Succession comes with new ideas and I am an eager listener to what youngsters intend to do with the company their parents or grandparents built up. There is often a discussion on technology, such as how Asian Trails has integrated eConnect; on how they try to attract younger customers with new marketing campaigns; how they want to adapt their products to more modern times; and how they think they will continue with the success that their parents achieved.

These are quite different to discussions with corporate managers who are employed and might have worked at different companies gaining different experiences and a wider range of views. There is of course nothing wrong with that and those discussions are equally important and interesting. But when multi-generational discussions take place they have a different dynamic, often a more down to earth approach since the head of the company more often than not was involved hands on with all aspects of the company. For youngsters stepping into those shoes, the undertaking is often of a different challenge since ‘father knows best’ and conflicts can turn personal instead of staying professional and true to their intent. I sometimes feel as a mediator in these discussions since both generations ask my opinion and see me as a referee or as a contributor to the best solution.

Amongst many, I love and cherish such dialogues. I find them inspirational also to our business and sometimes the trigger of actions I might myself turn into an Asian Trails’ project or decision. It was fun to reignite such talks at ITB which I am sure will continue over many dinners in the months and years to come and where I can support our friends with my personal knowledge and experience.

Thank you for being a friend and business partner of Asian Trails. Contact me if you think that I can contribute to supporting you in your objectives and aspirations, in the growth of your company or simply to have a chat on matters that are important to you.

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