Adopting a growth mindset, building for the future of travel – Hamilton County Reporter

By GREG JUNG

Guest Columnist

Education, experience and change are the keys to growth 

We’ve navigated the twists and turns of life while in the midst of a rollercoaster of confusion, anxiety, anger and fear, all generated by the ongoing state of the world. In an effort to cope during these times, you may have picked up new hobbies, discovered your love for a number of reality TV series, moved across the country, made the decision to go back to school or even become one of many professionals taking part in the Great Resignation.

There is no question that this current time in our history is marked with an increasing want and need for personal and professional growth. Many chapters of my life have been marked by a similar desire; this has motivated me to adopt a mindset focused on differentiating myself from others in a positive way through a continuous pursuit of knowledge. I have learned many lessons – recognizing that growth is rarely happenstance, broadening my capabilities through further education and finding my way into the travel insurance industry.

I pursued my first MBA two years after completing my undergraduate degree, and this decision came from a place of limited work experience. My motivation for this choice was rooted in a very academic foundation, where I anticipated that guiding principles would greatly assist in the application of my skills within the real world. Through gaining work experience and pursuing my second MBA later in life, I was able to recognize how education is truly complementary to application as work experiences taught me how, when and where my academic background could make all the difference.

Gaining actual work experience, especially within the travel industry, shifted my perspective and motivated me to use a more holistic approach to everything I do, and this type of approach is needed more than ever before. When I began my career, taking on a role in marketing meant that you only had a role in marketing. Now, a marketing role really can function as an umbrella title, housing responsibilities in corporate culture, operations, technology, marketing and even all the way into sales.

Leading with a holistic approach

Imagine that a company is at the top of its game in terms of its visual marketing content; however, it is executing business poorly when it comes to very foundational operations, such as customer experience. When negative feedback comes around, it is not just associated with the struggling department but rather hinders the growth of the entire company. That is why a holistic approach is so essential within today’s world. It all comes back to how today’s leaders are making their decisions and enacting change, aka using a growth mindset, relying on those learned skills of design and critical thinking as well as problem solving.

From my own experience, an excellent example of a holistic approach can be seen when looking at how I tackled the issue of marketing investments and travel seasonality. For this industry, it is typically assumed that Q2 and Q3 are the best quarters in terms of sales; therefore, impacting when and how we invest our money.

However, people are traveling all the time, even more so since their previous plans were derailed due to the pandemic. In this case, by adopting a holistic approach and looking at the bigger picture, I ask the question “Is the industry forcing seasonality by how we calibrate our marketing spend?” as well as “What would happen when seasonality is no longer the driving factor in determining spend?”

By broadening the way in which I assessed this concept, it enabled me to shatter this outdated belief and instead rely on a more calculated approach based on experience and observations.

The future of growth within travel 

As I look ahead to the future of travel and the travel insurance industry, there are a number of changes in the works. Like many other types of insurance, travel is heavily pivoting toward a direct-to-consumer model by relying on technology. Millennials and younger generations are driving this as they want an experience where the results are immediate, meaning they have their insurance set up within a few clicks and are able to digitally interact in a similar fashion.

Specifically, through my role as Chief Growth Officer for Seven Corners, I am optimistic toward a greater increase in travel insurance knowledge among the general public. Prior to the pandemic, very few people were aware of the need for travel medical insurance; however, it has always been rather essential particularly when traveling out of the country where your standard health insurance likely will not cover injury or illness. The pandemic truly spotlighted the importance of this type of insurance to consumers that would have otherwise overlooked it. For Seven Corners as well as other travel insurance companies, the future of travel is really focused on educating the public on how they can get back out there and do it safely.

As for the next generation of talent, young professionals will be entering into an industry that is much livelier and more advanced – one that is constantly adapting and changing as each new generation of travelers helps to shape trends and top destinations vary every few years. For those individuals, a growth mindset will be key to their success. These are three tips that young professionals should follow as they pursue a career in the travel industry.

  • Look for career opportunities in consulting: The beauty of consulting or rotational programs is that you are exposed to numerous industries or multiple facets of a company. You will be much better equipped to make crucial strategic decisions as this exposure gives you the ability to visualize how prospective changes will likely impact each sector of the company.
  • Develop a strong understanding of analytics and digital marketing: A large portion of the work we do in this industry relates to the use of data and analytics. Additionally, digital marketing is a newer area that is constantly evolving. By developing familiarity with these topics, you will be better equipped than many of your peers.
  • Don’t overlook accounting and finance classes: This is one aspect of my education that I overlooked while working through my undergraduate degree. A background in finance and accounting is highly valued. By having the ability to understand how the financial sector of your organization functions, you are better positioned to come up with effective growth strategies.

As the next generation of professionals looks to join this industry, we know that future success will be hinged on our ability to educate and connect with the public. This will always begin with educating ourselves, looking inward at the industry to identify and address those vulnerabilities that block greater adoption. Whether it be tackling outdated beliefs, navigating a pandemic/world crisis or interpreting and catering to generational differences, travel professionals must rely on a growth mindset as it is a pillar to strategic development and effective communication.

Greg Jung is the Chief Growth Officer of Seven Corners Travel Insurance, based in Carmel.