Rising star interview, Ryan Gray – Director of Business Development
27th October 2021Tweet
- Tell us about your role. What do you do, and what do you find most interesting about it?
“I have worked in the sales division for Agiito (previously Capita Travel & Events) for almost five years now and I’m delighted to have been recently appointed as Director of Business Development. In this role, I now lead the sales and bid writing teams, working with new and existing customers who look to a travel management company to manage their business travel requirements. Our strength lies in the provision of UK and international accommodation.
Interaction and cross-collaboration with various departments across our business is key, and while sales are the primary driver in my role, relationships with the likes of marketing, account management, operations, finance, product and proposition, implementation and many more are vital… it’s one thing bringing on-board a new customer, but it’s equally important for Agiito to provide a market-leading after-sales service.
Prior to this new position, I was Business Development Manager – a challenging yet rewarding role, where no two days were the same. I really enjoy the day-to-day interaction (both on the road face-to-face and virtually) with our potential customers. I love the process of working with a client from first contact, right though to contract delivery and go-live… a process, depending on the individual requirement, that can last anywhere between just a few weeks through to 18 months.
We are very proud to serve a very broad spectrum of customers across a huge variety of markets, from insurance and legal, to retail, finance, construction, infrastructure, logistics, utilities and many more. Plus, I enjoy learning about these industries as we work closely with our clients throughout the tendering process.”
- What made you want to work in this industry?
“This is a relatively easy one: it’s what I’ve always wanted to do! I remember at the age of around 12/13 having a passion for languages, geography and the world in general, and thinking that all I wanted to do as a career is to travel and see the world. Advice back then for this industry was scarce. However, what I realised is that a grounding would be to gain experience within a travel agency environment.
Following university, where I studied Travel & Tourism Management, I secured my first role in a local travel agency before moving into a larger travel company, where I enjoyed various roles for over 13 years. I then moved from ‘selling’ holidays to ‘creating’ holidays with a role at Thomas Cook and then Center Parcs. Following this role, I joined the business travel family with Agiito. The end result was and has been the same each time: providing services that connect people, whether that be families on holiday or business colleagues and connections that require a journey or a place to stay.”
- What do you see as the biggest challenge to your industry in the next year?
“It’s fair to say that the pandemic has been devastating for most us for a number of reasons, our personal lives have been subject to severe restriction and businesses have faced the toughest of times just to stay afloat, not least, the travel industry which has been hit particularly hard. However, we’ve seen pockets of success with a wide variety of businesses we partner with trading strongly, and we’ve been on hand to help them connect safely.
It’s critical that we quickly return to some sort of normality into next year. However, the road out of the pandemic could be slow and steady, rather than returning with a big bang.
Sustainability is another huge talking point at the moment, as businesses rightly focus on their goals towards a carbon-neutral future. We’re helping our customers achieve these goals by partnering with the fantastic team at Trees4Travel, where they help ensure that every gram of Co2 spent on travelling, can be offset by planting trees (or entire forests!) and helping businesses achieve their corporate social responsibility goals.
The pandemic has taught us that travelling is not as easy as it once was. We have to ensure that the services we provide are safe and compliant with local regulations. We also need to ensure that once in your chosen destination, we provide a 24/7/365 support service that ensures your travellers are safe and have a point of contact should the need arise.
Relatively misunderstood 20 years ago, traveller wellbeing is now right at the forefront of most businesses’ agendas. The requirement for accommodation (travelling to or the use of) can be highly stressful, so at Agiito we ensure that every traveller feels safe, well connected and confident that their ‘journey’ has wellbeing at its heart. By providing management information and metrics, we show where benefits can be sought and improvements made.”
- How would you like to see the industry improved next year / 5 years / by the time you retire?
“As a tech-enabled managed service business, we believe that technology will play a huge part in the development of our industry in the short-term, especially as we rely more than ever on the automation of time-consuming processes. However, travel, and the process of booking and undertaking travel, can be quite emotive… so at Agiito, we believe that our people will play an equally important role, both now and in the coming years. For example, we all have access to book our own accommodation via a myriad of online travel booking sites, however I can tell you from experience, there’s nothing quite like speaking directly to a knowledgeable and engaging travel agent about a complex situation! Over the next five years and beyond, the key for us is bringing virtual and face-to-face interaction seamlessly together to provide a rounded support service for our customers, where personalised services give us the ability to fully understand the customer requirement and in turn, provide a service or solution that perfectly fits the brief.
Longer-term, the ultimate goal would be to provide our travellers with the ability to connect and travel seamlessly, where our services can cover a ‘journey’ from doorstep to destination and back again from the palm of your hand (or your wrist!), at the right time and at the right price, along with the peace of mind that we are with you every step of the way.
If I could retire having seen our industry achieve all of this, I’d be very happy.”
- If you could give your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
“Knowing what I know now, I’d tell my 16-year-old self to be more confident, braver and to take more risks (within reason!). Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something… you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it! Furthermore, I’d say not to worry so much, particularly about what others think… if you are worried about a situation, write down a list the things you are worried about, then cross out those you have no control over and go after the ones you can.”Tweet