Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with TripADeal’s Matt Wolfenden

Travel Weekly caught up with TripADeal’s chief operating officer, Matt Wolfenden, to find out how he’s been faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are you reading?

I’ve found myself reading a lot of political information in and around COVID-19 and everything that’s formed around it. I didn’t previously have much of an interest in it, but the political landscape has certainly sparked my interest to see where this will all land when all is said and done.

What are you watching?

Just recently finished watching the new Stan series Your Honor. It was pretty deep and drew me in from the start. But, I also do like referring to something light just to take myself away from what can often be a pretty busy day.

What are you listening to?

I love music and listen to all kinds of music, but I have found myself getting into podcasts lately (I know I’m a little bit late to the party). The ones I’m listening to tend to be more financial – that seems to be what’s trending right now.

What are you cooking?

I really enjoy cooking, though I unfortunately don’t get a lot of time to do it right now. I’m in no way a specialist, but I do tend to cook a lot of roasts.

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

I’ve always been big on staying fit, not only physically but also mentally. I’ve taken up cycling and running, in addition to the functional training I was already doing. I try to train six days a week, just to help keep focused and stay in shape.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

I think not only in our industry, but in others I’ve talked to people in, people have flexed in and out and been willing to help across the board in areas they typically didn’t work in. It’s brought out a united, band-together mindset from people, and I think that’s really positive. It’s certainly challenged the way we live.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I’ve learned that juggling many different things at once takes practice, and the more you do it, the better you get. I’ve also learned too that even I need to slow down sometimes with how much can rise up. While the travel space has definitely taken a hit, it certainly feels like we’ve been busier than ever.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

I think our first natural response is to think of the traveller, and that can be a little bit hard, both personally and during your workday. We’ve got to be really aware of the individual behind every booking and planned holiday. It was an emotional attachment for them, so if we keep that in mind, it certainly helps manage the crisis for our customers.

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

Fortunately, I grew up travelling to the Whitsundays quite a lot. I know it’s a bit cliché to say that, but I love going up there. It always brings back a lot of fond memories travelling with my grandparents. I don’t get back there enough.

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

It’s hard to go past the crystal-clear water of the Maldives lapping against the beach. Once travel opens back up again, that’s somewhere I’d definitely love to get back to.

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

I reckon everyone will be jetting away for a quick trip to Bali to relax and unwind. But certainly, the Maldives will be a nice place to relax, disconnect and put the feet up.

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