Travel Weekly goes one-on-one with Flight Centre Travel Group’s Danielle Galloway to chat about her journey to leading the Travel Associates brand and why seasoned travel agents would be mad not to join the premium leisure player.
TW: What drew you to work in the travel industry and, in particular, at Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG)?
DG: I’ve always been fascinated by the opportunity that travel provides. It provides us with the ability to explore new countries, new cultures, landmarks that have shaped our history, and of course, our own reactions to new destinations and new ideas.
FCTG offered me, as a young financial recruit, the chance to work in a fast-moving environment with plenty of opportunity to learn, grow and progress my career. It’s a very dynamic business which can take you as far as you want to go – with hard work (of course), a clear focus (definitely) and the will and strategies to drive success.
TW: You joined FCTG with an accounting background and worked in a number of finance roles within the group before moving into senior management positions (including your current one) working on specific brands and group segments. How did you find that transition, and how much support did you receive from FCTG?
DG: There’s no doubt that FCTG offers numerous opportunities to its employees and for me, this was about recognising my career goals and setting these with clarity and focus.
I am a very driven and results-oriented person, so this was my way of ensuring I continued to grow in the business, and because people are encouraged to broaden and develop their skills across the business, it also means that new opportunities are always just around the corner.
If it interests you, or if you have a knowledge gap that needs to be filled to achieve your goals, then a clear purpose makes it relatively easy to know what your next step should be.
I have been supported throughout my career by some great leaders and mentors who have taught me a lot about managing and leading and the difference between these concepts. I am also very positive, and I think this has helped me to take advantage of opportunities to grow and develop myself with new challenges.
My belief is that it is important to know what you want to achieve and to ensure that you look for those roles which support you professionally and personally, and then always to build authentic relationships with colleagues that allow you the support you need to be successful.
TW: What is your proudest career accomplishment to date?
DG: The successful growth and establishment of Flight Centre’s corporate division as a leading business of its kind in Australia, being hand-picked for my new role as the head of premium leisure within the FCTG family, and having mentored many individuals through their own career achievements have all been proud milestones in my career.
TW: How would you describe your leadership style?
DG: I would say that I’m recognised as being very open and fair, but also firm in my expectations of my team. I believe in open communication, honesty with people and providing a clear direction so that my team knows exactly where we are going and why.
On top of that, I encourage my team to be very self-sufficient, to lead from the front and to go after their success.
I believe reward and recognition within a team is essential. By this, I don’t mean competition – I mean sharing successful moments with colleagues and recognising when people have performed above and beyond.
TW: What is the most challenging part of being a female working in a leadership role? In turn, what’s the easiest/most enjoyable part of being a female leader?
DG: There’s no question that balancing personal and professional life is a challenge for everyone – not just women, but often as the primary caregiver of a family, this is something that we all have to manage.
Your family and your friends are so important to keeping a positive mindset and, therefore, you do need to prioritise at times.
FCTG has some great support networks for women, including our major Womenwise initiative and a program called Goddess of the Boardroom, both of which have been developed to encourage women into leadership roles and equipping them with the right support structures to be successful.
Your own personal networks are also critical because authentic relationships with people will always be a major benefit in any career pathway.
TW: How do you keep yourself and your team/s motivated and focused?
DG: I believe strongly in self-motivation as a major driving factor in the business, and I find that if your team is clear on goals and expectations, and know that you are there when they need your support or guidance, then it’s a fulfilling and satisfying environment for people.
Understanding what makes people tick and what motivates them is individual and important, so I always try to get to know my team really well so I can provide that support. I meet regularly with my senior team and always hold them accountable for results and timelines so that we know we are on track for success, or we know quickly when we need to review activities or results.
For agents who are curious about opportunities with Travel Associates, I invite them to visit our careers webpage and express their interest to one of our team.
We celebrate successes together, we celebrate birthdays and special occasions, and we talk as much as possible rather than emailing. It is much more efficient and pleasant!
TW: Let’s pretend you’re talking to an experienced travel consultant looking for a new challenge. How would you convince them that joining Travel Associates is the right move?
DG: Ah, that’s an easy one! Travel Associates is a beautiful brand and business, based on long-term authentic partnerships with clients and suppliers. It’s an esteemed career move for experienced agents, and why we call our agents ‘travel advisers’.
We are wholly focused on providing extraordinary travel experiences for our clients, most of whom are repeat clients, with a very high level of service and attention to detail.
What makes Travel Associates different as a brand is that our depth of experience in travel is second-to-none, our product knowledge is exceptional, and we work hard to continue to develop authentic relationships and continue to develop our people.
Our connections with clients and industry suppliers are unrivalled due to our client philosophy and our focus on excellence. We don’t micromanage our advisers – we give our teams flexibility and ownership of their careers and their relationships with clients. And our customer retention rate is the highest in the industry, which means we work in a positive environment, making people’s dreams come true and, as a result, our staff retention rate is also very high.
As a Travel Associates business leader, you essentially run your own small business and your success is based on your own hard work, professionalism and entrepreneurial spirit. As a Travel Associates adviser, you are equipped with detailed product knowledge to benefit your clients, you are welcomed on many amazing famils and educationals, invited to conferences and events that educate and inspire you, and you are considered to be the ‘best of the best’ in our business.
We tend not to focus on discounting or budget leisure experiences, but on our ability to craft personalised itineraries that exceed our clients’ expectations.
Travel Associates also offers incredible support and flexibility to our advisers, depending how, when and where they want to work to ensure that balance between personal and professional. We provide many industry-leading employee benefits from job-sharing, to leave banking and leave sharing, to flexible salary options, bonuses and financial investment opportunities.
In other words, if you are a consultant with five or more years of experience, a good client list, a focus on excellence, and a strong desire to succeed, then I would love to create a personal connection with you and bring you into the only place to be.