Meet the Team: Gary Povey, Chief Operating Officer


We talk to COO, Gary Povey, about his journey at Wings so far..

Q How long have you been COO of Wings?

A: I have been with Wings for just over six months.

Q What attracted you to the role at the company?

A: The opportunity to be part of the growth trajectory with Wings was the key driver. Wings have a great reputation, an established global footprint, a motivated team and a vision. The investment that has been made in growing the people side combined with the investment in technology demonstrates the ambition. I felt that the timing was perfect to be part of the planning and the journey.

Q How would you describe your role at Wings Global Travel?

A My objective is profitable growth. Based on that my role is to understand all our current capabilities, understand the client requirements and the competitor landscape. Take all that information and design, project plan and deploy our go-to market strategy in phases as we scale.

Q You have enjoyed a long and varied career in the travel market, spanning 31 years, including your roles as Exec VP at Reed & Mackay and positions at American Express Global Business Travel, Omega World Travel, Expedia-owned Traveldoo and InterContinental Hotels Group. What are your highlights?

A: The highlight is working in this wonderful industry. The opportunities to try something different has always appealed and the people in this industry have always been open to help, guide and mentor. Working for different sized business and different types of business has ensured I have been challenged and kept me motivated.

Q What would you say your style of management is?

A: I am from a sporting background and very specifically team sports such as rugby. So, I believe in a team working together to achieve our big hairy audacious goal (BHAG). Working together to establish our objectives, work together as a team towards those objectives, agreeing our playbooks based on our strengths or competitor gaps, knowing what we need to improve as a team and individuals, plan for changing scenarios, pivot when needed, understand our roles and responsibilities, hold each accountable, accept feedback, understand our defeats, always look to improve and celebrate success. All great teams have a group of leaders, understand the plan and bring all with them.

Q What are the biggest changes you have witnessed in the travel business?

A: I would say the consolidation through mergers and acquisitions have always been around, but the recent activity is of a much larger scale. Well-known names have disappeared, which has been sad but also just reality. The change of how we as TMCs were remunerated was fundamental and one of the biggest drivers to what we are today. Digitalisation, personalisation and automation have always been there, but the speed of change is astounding.

Q What do you see as the biggest challenges that lie ahead in the business travel market?

A: Change is inevitable, so we need to be ready for that and as mentioned before and pivot where required. AI, further decentralising content, further changes in income streams, different generations with different needs, attracting talent and other changes need thought, strategy and leadership but should be manageable.  Therefore, it is the elements that are out of our hands such as climate change and geopolitical instability and the global economy.

Q Are you optimistic for the future of the business travel market?

A: I am very optimistic. The amount of investment from Private Equity indicates that the industry has a bright future and is not seen as a risk.  Additionally, all the challenges we are facing in the way of consolidation, disrupters, content distribution, employee attraction, etc. is filled with opportunities for the ones that get it right.

Gary Povey, Keynote speaker, Business Travel Show Europe 2024


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