President, Incentive Conference & Event Society Asia Pacific
Vice President – Global Business
Incentive Conference & Event Society Asia Pacific
When and why did you join the industry?
1971, Burns Philp & Co Ltd, (convinced my parents I needed a gap year)
Joined as a management trainee to learn various business operations of Burns Philp, including Shipping, Pacific Island Import/export and Travel, only their Travel business really caught my interest, so I successfully applied to become a Travel Agent at Burns Philp in Collins Street Melbourne
What do you like most about your job?
With over 40 years in the industry, I get enormous pleasure out of seeing the Incentive Travel, Corporate Meetings & Events segment of tourism grow in scale & sophistication, and knowing we in Asia Pacific do it better than the rest of the world.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
In 1991 in my first business; The Forum Organization, we secured the world launch of the new BMW 3 series, we staged the event over 6 weeks to combined global audience of over 3,000 in back to back events including ride & drive, technical sessions, theatrical performances and local sightseeing.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
“If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well” My father ; he was in the RAF as a Pathfinder during the second world war and lived to tell the story. King George decorated him for his achievements and bravery, ultimately being awarded the DFC twice.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Richard Branson has done a lot to put excitement back into the travel industry, he understands the power of a brand and is prepared to take risks to move his business ahead, there are not enough risk takers in our industry.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
After founding two of my own companies; The Forum Organization in 1980 and The MINT Organization in 2000, the latter with offices in Australia, Asia & the Middle East I felt it was important to give back to an industry I have enjoyed success in.
By founding the Incentive Conference and Event Society Asia Pacific as the peak body for the Incentive Conference & Event industry I wanted to create a single professional body to raise the profile of the IC&E sector of tourism, to lift standards and to take a pan-Asia Pacific approach to an industry that was valued at over US$120 billion in 2014. In 2016 ICESAP will launch an Intermediary Agency Accreditation Scheme to further enhance the reputation of our industry and build long term sustainability, without it, the Agency role is under threat from dis-intermediation.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Spain & Portugal for later this year, I try to take 2 long haul breaks every year, last month I drove the length of California’s Highway One.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
I love cars and motor racing, BMW contracted my company to launch the M3 to a group of Automotive Journalists a few years back. We chose Monaco in the week of the Monaco Grand Prix, driving fast cars around the Alpilles in Southern France & then being in Monaco to watch the race was truly memorable
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
My Macbook, my smartphone and a spare pair of glasses!
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
I would like to do a road trip from John O’Groats to Land’s End driving a Bentley with Joanna Lumley as my navigator.
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
In my area of expertise, Incentive Travel, Corporate Meetings & Events; there is a need for the industry to have a good hard look at itself. They get confused about whether they are in the travel business or the marketing & business solution business, the truth is, they are in both.
Strong growth over successive years has bred apathy. Most of the growth has come through the irreversible shift of marketing dollars from advertising to below the line spend, and the IC&E segment has been a major beneficiary. The problem is, most of the agencies have no idea that this is the cause of the sectors growth. The risk is global advertising agency groups will move in on their space, and unless they professionalise, they will be marginalised, bought out, or simply go out of business.
Nigel Gaunt, President, Incentive Conference & Event Society Asia Pacific