Kaylene ShuttlewoodKaylene Shuttlewood
Travelport general manager

The proliferation of technology has been bittersweet for many in the travel business. New innovations have touched all parts of the travel food chain, but the hurdle that many can’t seem to clear is what to do next. In short, the technology and training resources are there, but agents are reluctant to touch them.

It’s a common theme for Travelport general manager Kaylene Shuttlewood who has been working on technology innovations and integration for over a decade in high flying roles with Helloworld and its predecessors Jetset and Stella. Shuttlewood has an impressive acumen when it comes to rolling out new technology, but she says adoption remains one of the biggest challenges for GDSs across the globe. And when it comes to solutions, she doesn’t claim to have all the answers.

“We are constantly trying to assure agents that technology can enhance their abilities, but some agents are scared it will replace them,” she told travelBulletin. “We’ve been working hard to develop systems that help agents sell ancillaries and prevent consumers from going direct, but it is difficult to convince them that we are trying to make their job easier, and not replace them.”

Shuttlewood singled out time pressures as the greatest hurdle in the adoption of platforms such as Travelport’s Smartpoint system, and while she admits it’s hard to swallow at times, she also acknowledges that time constraints are putting the squeeze on the industry as a whole. “No one can ignore the rise of technology and the need to incorporate it into the mix… but the reality is that it takes time and effort to learn how to use new processes and invest in future career development,” she said.

“Staff have to take it on themselves to advance their career and improve their personal brand, and technology is a central part of that. It’s also directly correlated to their overall profitability as a consultant.”
Just eight months into the top role with Travelport’s Pacific operation, Shuttlewood admits that improving the adoption of new technology is constantly front of mind. In an industry that has long been resistant to change, she’s got her work cut out for her, but she has been quick to strike.

For one, Travelport recently wrapped up its road shows which reached over 500 agents in Australia and New Zealand, and Shuttlewood spearheaded the launch of a series of webinars and training programs so that agents can use the latest developments to their fullest capacity. “There’s no point having a Porsche and only driving it in the CBD,” she quipped.

Looking forward, Shuttlewood singled out mobile as the “next big thing”, with the rise of smartphones and tablets offering many opportunities to streamline bookings across all platforms. “Mobile will become the standard for the industry. It’s a point of difference for us at the moment, but soon low cost and full service carriers will catch onto that so we need to innovate and move forward. If you don’t move with technology you will be left behind,” she said.

As Shuttlewood settles into the role with Travelport, she is focused on building relationships, claiming that strong communication and client relationships are the key to good business. It’s a mantra that she considers to be central to her career success, along with the ability to make difficult decisions under pressure, particularly when it comes to staff.

In her view, staff produce some of the best business ideas, but they’re also the source of some of the greatest frustrations. “You have to give employees the opportunity to be productive and efficient, but ultimately you have to have the right staff. If you don’t have the right people in the right roles you have to make tough decisions. Otherwise you’re wasting everybody’s time,” she says.

Valuing quality over quantity is another virtue that she considers as a key contributor to her success so far: “It’s not worth having customers just for the sake of it – they have to be profitable for suppliers and customers.”

And to others in the industry who are looking to take the next step in their career, she suggests investing time to develop a strong personal brand and recruiting a mentor to support progression.

“Don’t be afraid to ask someone to be a mentor figure, and always consider what legacy you want to leave behind,” she concluded.

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