Iain Andrew, Divisional Senior Vice President— Travel Services, dnata joined the Emirates Group in December 2005 and was promoted to the current position in 2007. Since then, he has been instrumental in strategising a new game plan for dnata which serves over 20 brands in 77 markets with more than 5,500 employees.
Currently a Divisional Senior Vice President, Iain Andrew is responsible for overlooking all aspects of dnata’s travel business. There are 20 brands that operate in 77 markets within dnata’s travel portfolio. This is with an employee count of around 5,500 and the business types are a mix of tour operators, OTAs, destination management companies, travel management companies, support services, bed banks and contact centres. Equating his role to that of a group CEO, Andrew says, “dnata is a complex group of businesses and I would empower the experienced executive team to strive for sustainable growth.”
Before joining dnata, Andrew was employed by Unipart, Thomas Cook, American Express, Air 2000 in a number of IT, finance and management roles. He also served as Chief Information Officer for TUI Airline Management. More recently, he was employed as the IT and Change Director for Britannia Airways as well as CIO for the Dixons Stores Group. He is a qualified Chartered Management Accountant (ACMA) and holds a degree in Business Studies from the University of Westminster and a Master of Science in Information Technology and Management from Sheffield Hallam University.
Thinking about various sectors in the industry, Andrew finds travel the most dynamic, exciting and aspirational one. He says, “My education background did not start out as specific to the travel trade, but I can happily say that travel is still fulfilling as an industry for me.” Regarding the evolution of dnata, Andrew says, “When I had joined, dnata was mainly a corporate travel company which only dealt in this region. It then expanded into the B2C landscape and later on an international scale. The company is now made up of an array of different types of travel and tourism business with international presence.”
Sharing his views on keeping pace with the changing world, Andrew says that travel companies have become technology companies to find solutions to the complexities faced by customers. He explains, “This region particularly has witnessed an outpouring of competitors – local start-ups, international expansions and changes of business model to fill new spaces opened up by the changing role of technology. We are able to stay ahead of the curve of technological change by learning and observing from the experiences of our business across the globe, and also by leveraging the host of skills and expertise that reside within the Emirates Group. With our decisions backed by data, we deliver work at spee, and put the customer at the centre of everything we do.”
Expressing concern over the burning issue of overtourism, Andrew comments, “The more popular a certain site is, the more disappointment it could create to a traveller especially while they experience long queues outside a popular attraction. Places are under the threat of being ruined and certain locations have already been required to take measures such as Boracay temporarily closing down to tourists, Machu Picchu putting visitor quotas, Rio’s Christ the Redeemer having to manage the inflow and outflow of people, along with a lot of sites starting to ban selfie sticks and drones.
We want to find and offer you to witness the unusual and off the beaten tracks. Visa is another area of concern in travel; it would be nice to have travel open to all.
Coping with challenges
Andrew believes that customer centricity and level of service are the two most important factors for a sustainable travel business. “In this market, we have a mix of demographics that can be challenging to meet all expectations as they vary greatly; it’s just about getting to know your customers and deciphering the best ways to operate. Technology and data help here too,” he said.