Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?
As CEO it is about me being the central point for strategy and growth of the organisation.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Apart from winning BETA’s rising star award? Lots of highlights to be honest. Whether it was opening my first hotel under my own brand Umi Hotels back in 2007 … to developing an awesome summer internship with our team in conjunction with UC Berkeley that saw over 80 students come to London to study, learn and work in 2019. I have been very lucky to work in this sector.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Eeeesh… difficult one. I think really is that in hospitality and tourism, the team is everything. To deliver amazing services, whether you be aiming it the youth market or 5 star, if the team doesn’t pull in the same direction then it will be difficult to achieve your goals.
If you were not working in this sector what other industry would you have pursued a career in?
A chef probably or maybe even a travel/food writer… something I still harbour dreams of! The late Anthony Bourdain was a hero of mine.
What are the emerging trends within your sector?
I feel that travelling with “purpose” will become more important than ever. Students will want to experience things that are unique and personalised and stuff that will also lead to them learning more about the places that they travel and about themselves. I also think career building opportunities will be equally important.
What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?
The plan is that we grow into Manchester through our partnership with UA92 and continue our expansion in London. The development of our Residence luxury living brand has proved to be successful and we hope that too can grow into other cities.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?
I have learnt lots but here are 3
I am blessed to work with amazing teams across our each of our businesses. I think we have a shared belief that it is important to help clients, partners and each other and that has kept us strong as a team.
I also have realised that I am someone that can find the positives in the darkest of times, and am happy to take the pain personally to make others feel some hope and joy…
Finally, we have learnt the true colours of partners, clients and suppliers … the majority being super supportive and others less so… and those people or organisations are ones we will not work with in the future.
As we head towards recovery what do you think the challenges and opportunities are for our sector?
There are so many to be honest. But in short:
One of the major challenges are really around trust in travel and it’s not about our sector but the broader travel sector. The industry has been through trust situations before… terrorist attacks, and other pandemics… but this has really stopped the world turning so it will be tough to get it all moving together and will require patience from everyone.
In terms of opportunities, I think the fact that for the first time in 3 generations, that people actually couldn’t travel, there will be great desire to travel again. I think people, particular younger people, will appreciate each trip more and seek more unique opportunities, which is something I believe Youth, Student and Educational Travel companies can deliver.
How do you think Covid-19 will change our industry (if at all)?
I think there will be shrinkage and consolidation in the industry in the short-term and growth in the medium term. I think hygiene will also be even more important that it was before across all types of tourism and hospitality products.
Name three positives to come out of lockdown
- People in the UK appreciating their local community more
- The UK Government finally realising how important hospitality and tourism is to the UK economy
- BETA as an organisation has really galvanised youth travel and been a focal point. Not all associations have done as well as keeping things going and informing industries of what is needed.
Steve is also the Chairman of BETA, and alongisde our fellow board members help to set the strategic direction of the association.
Find out more about BETA member Anglo Educational Services here
Published 01 July 2020