Interview: William Newley, Vice President MG Group
Posted by Vero
William Newley, Vice President Director MG Group, explains his view of how the travel industry has changed and what is changing. He also explains what his company's main growth objectives are and how TravelgateX is helping them through connectivity technology.
Tell us a bit about you, what you do and your company.
I have been involved in the B2B hotel distribution business for quite some time. I started at one of the best learning grounds in the business - GTA, where I was able to develop my career in a fast-moving and innovative environment. More recently, I took on the challenge of helping MG - one of South East Asia’s well-known wholesalers' transition into the leading B2B hospitality marketplace. Securing investment from Northstar Private Equity enabled us to build and launch “MG Jarvis” the industry's first purpose-built B2B microservices platform, which is now a key tool in driving the business to new heights.
What are some of the biggest challenges for your sector right now?
As the industry moved into the recovery phase following the seemingly endless periods of restrictions and lockdowns, we can see the whole sector is more risk-averse and ultimately has matured in terms of managing cash flow. This runs through the whole industry, from hotel owners, property management companies, credit insurance and of course the agencies we sell to. Thankfully MG is in a strong position with financially powerful shareholders so although we manage our money carefully we are still in a position to aggressively deploy capital into tech development and our pre-buys with hotels which are big differentiators for us.
What do you think are some of the biggest opportunities for the travel industry in 2022?
Looking at the Asian region. Flights are still far below 2019 levels. Across SE Asia for the week of July 13th - seat capacity on scheduled flights is still around 50% below 2019 levels. Domestic has recovered faster, down now only 12%, but international capacity is still down by 65%. The demand is there, but returning flights will take time as airlines need capital and staff to restart - but we can fully expect capacity to continue to increase through the year as demand is strong.
What is a crazy or out-of-the-box product or technology that you would personally like to ?
One of the biggest challenges was hotel mapping, whilst we have developed auto-mapping functionality in Jarvis, there are still instances where manual processes are needed. Indeed, the trend of room-level mapping is now becoming more common which adds further complexities. Ideally, there would be a single standard for Hotel & Room mapping across the world similar to USB-C which we all use every day and has a massive level of adoption.
What is your favorite thing about working in hospitality/Travel/Tourism?
The teams we have and the people we work with. I believe the travel business has a great depth of different personalities from all sorts of backgrounds. The diversity of cultures and nationalities we have the privilege to work with throughout the world is something to cherish.
What does TravelgateX add value to your business?
TravelgateX is a stable and trustworthy partner that enables us to move even faster to develop our B2B hospitality marketplace. Although the majority of our business is driven through our direct contracts whether that be static rates, via channel managers or connectivity through tech partners such as Sabre Synxis or Derbysoft. Our ability to add supply and demand partners efficiently through Travegate has accelerated our global footprint and enabled us to scale our system by entering new source and destination markets.
What suggestions/challenges would you give to theTeamX?
Perhaps tweaking TGX mapping capabilities (hotel & room mapping) can help players integrate and animate faster.
Can you talk more about solutions you think will be most impactful in the next 12 to 18 months as travel begins to recover?
Having launched our Jarvis platform in Q4 2019 we have not yet seen its full potential. Throughout the course of the pandemic, our commercial teams were extremely busy and led by 2 of our brightest stars - Susan Goh on supply and Subash Swamy on demand, we have emerged from the pandemic with a marketplace with 10X more connections than when we launched the system. We are all really excited about the next 12 months as we watch the business scale and grow.
What are the plans for 2023? Looking ahead to the next year, what are your top two or three priorities?
MG competes and wins in 4 main areas, which we will continue to focus on:
Differentiated content directly sourced and contracted and integrated into a global hospitality marketplace with content from global hotel brands, channel managers, and leading 3rd parties.
Highly scalable, low-cost B2B specific platform and an overall tech approach founded on simplicity, flexibility, and reliability
Industry-leading level of customer service quality and speed.
Best in class B2B marketing and buyer/seller engagement and empowerment.
What advice do you have for young people just entering the travel technology space
Travel technology is still far behind when it comes to Big Data, machine learning, and its applications. If you can focus and bring real value to your company on these topics, you will go a very long way.