Memorable times for PATA CEO Greg Duffell
BANGKOK (eTN) - While PATA Board of Directors will meet from this coming Thursday in Hawaii, PATA CEO Greg Duffell talked to eTurboNews Senior Editor Asia Luc Citrinot about the deep changes that the Pacific Asia Travel Association experienced over the last two years and what will be the future after he leaves his position by the end of February.
eTN: How did you run the selection of candidates to the post of CEO?
DUFFELL: We had over 50 people who submitted their applications, a significant number, which showed that PATA and Asia tourism continue to generate a lot of interest. We narrowed our choice to five people, and we should announce soon the name of the candidate.
eTN: Do you predict a smoother transition than your arrival at the helm of PATA in 2008?
DUFFELL: I do expect a smoother transition. When I arrived in November 2008, I had very little knowledge about the way the association worked. It was then very tough as an outsider to PATA to care about the association at a time of significant changes. They were necessary and not that easy to implement, as we were also struck by an ongoing economic recession. But we are a 60-year-old association and changes were necessary. Look only at the way this industry redefined itself over the last 15 years. We had then to look at the ways we operate internally and how we evaluated our industry.
eTN: What was the conclusion?
DUFFELL: We thought that we had to go back to the association’s basics. What do people expect from PATA? We then concluded that they wanted our guidance in terms of information or in ways to help our members to better assess the future and consequently improve their business. We wanted to be a more open association, more transparent, and more innovative in our model of operation. It was not always well understood at the beginning, but I believe that people now evaluate positively what we have done. We now have a board that works to implement new strategies and ideas for all our members.
eTN: What would you recommend to your successor?
DUFFELL: PATA’s transformation was very important, and I think that it would be of great help if the next CEO lets those changes settle down. But this is true that the association must then continue to move at the pace set by our industry. And this pace is unlikely to slowdown. Who will take over the destiny of PATA should probably focus on the young generation in our industry. Maybe we should have an action group looking at the ways new generations look at the travel industry. It is useful to build a bridge with coming generations who have completely different career models and ways of conceiving business. They are far more flexible and switch easily from one activity to another.
eTN: How do you see Asia tourism moving in the next years to come?
DUFFELL: Asia remains one of the fastest-growing markets and travel destinations in the world. Asia outpaces in many ways the western world as it is far more flexible and adaptable to new trends. And Asia is also able now to define its own models, away from western concepts. In many cases, Asia acts in a more humble way than the west by moving forward without fanfare. Asia’s decade is coming forward, and I believe that the west could now look at the way this part of the world is able to achieve a lot. And for me, PATA was a great opportunity to be confronted with all these challenges.