Q&A with Alex de Waal from CEO of GreyhoundFebruary 15th, 2018 | | industry
I loved working at the coal face of one of Australia’s leading regional communities. The Cairns community extended such a warm welcome and an extraordinary level of trust and appreciation in my favour. In turn I believe we were able to achieve some extraordinary growth and establish a positive legacy to continue to fuel its ongoing success. Whilst reluctant to leave Cairns, the prospect of working with Greyhound, a business that has a 113 year heritage and a brand that is without question one of the world’s most recognised, was compelling. Moreover the diversity of the business (Resources sector, Freight, Tourism, Commuter, Budget domestic travel, Charters etc.) and the need to reinvigorate its’ vision & strategic objectives inspired me. The icing on the cake was the calibre and competence of the Board and Executive Team. The Board benefits from the governance expertise and extraordinary commercial credentials of three directors: Richard Forbes (Chairman), Mark Mentha and George Chapman. My welcome to the Greyhound team has been fabulous. The staff are highly committed to the welfare of the business and the commercial pedigree that the directors bring to the business has created a very robust commercial platform to build a sustainable positive future. I have worked with the leadership team and staff to develop our vision, values and strategic objectives for the period 2018-2022. Our strategic focus will see Greyhound becoming a values led business with empowered people, demonstrating customer focused agility. We recognise Greyhound as being a global brand delivering safe, flexible and exceptional transport & tourism solutions through our extraordinary people and our 100 year+ heritage of sustainable business operations. Our vision is to be Australasia’s leading and most loved travel companies delivering cutting edge transport solutions, moving people and minds!
2. What is Greyhound’s marketing strategy for the youth market?
The market will have to wait and see! Suffice to say we have invested a great deal in understanding the motivations, interests and behaviours of youth market customers. In April at the Australian Tourism Exchange, we will be launching the first of many significant innovations, designed to deliver extraordinary contemporary travel experiences that will delight our customers.
3. Are you keeping the Greyhound/Wicked travel shops?
We acquired the Greyhound / Wicked travel shops to protect a significant tranche of supply. Moreover the domestic retail distribution system is currently adjusting to significant changes brought about by the change in Visa regulations. As such Greyhound will continue to maintain this small investment in retail distribution. This is however a secondary focus, with our priority being to strengthen our partnerships with all key industry, retail and wholesale partners, providing them with = to or better commercial terms than our owned Greyhound / Wicked stores. Greyhound operates a significant and resource intensive national network of services and we do not believe we can generate adequate demand to fill our “pipeline” without support from our industry, wholesale and retail partners.
4. Will you maintain the Greyhound / Wicked and the Indie travel brands?
We are in the process of reviewing all Greyhound owned brands however this does not feature on our list of priorities. As per my previous comment our focus is on developing our industry, wholesale & retail partnerships, not strengthening or developing our own retail brands.
5. How do you envisage the future of youth travel in Australia?
Greyhound will play a role in driving dispersal of youth travel. The trends over the past 5 years point towards a decline in dispersal with visitation to primary destinations increasing at the expense of secondary / off the beaten track experiences. This is actually incongruent with what youth travellers are looking for, they want to discover secret spots, interesting locals and new adventures and to learn about themselves. Our current product offering and distribution however is not providing youth travellers with the best and most compelling experiences. The attraction of Australia as a youth holiday destination will suffer if we do not address this trend and deliver the very best we have to offer. Moreover the trailblazing that is undertaken by the youth market builds the foundation for development of other less adventurous markets, which will in turn ultimately impair Australia’s tourism development potential.
Questions to Alex were posed by Mike Barrow.