Travel Tech Blog

Business Travel Rockstar Interview - Abby Penston

MIDOCO-Quotes-FOCUSAbby Penston, CEO FOCUS Travel Partnership

How did you start your career? 

I worked in a hotel for Pubmaster starting in the bar then running the restaurant and front desk.

How did you get into travel?

I came back to Business Travel with a TMC looking for a LEAN Manager to assist with their rapidly growing business.

Is there anything that fascinates you about this industry?

Peoples passion for customer service, the care and diligence in servicing the client is evident and to be commended.

Who inspired you?

I feel inspired every day by people who despite their challenges or uncertainties strive for solutions to better themselves, their businesses or their positions. I love to see grit and determination in play, I’m fortunate to see it in practice daily with my team.

What was your most memorable experience during your career?

Gosh, there have been many but I would say without a shadow of a doubt making a Senior Position in a FTSE 100 company in a very male dominated environment. Despite looking very out of place I felt like I belonged, it was scary but rewarding!

In your view, what is the greatest achievement in travel technology since the millennium shift?

The advancement with APIs in the industry.  We see the impact everywhere from Online Booking tools, Agent Platforms, through to the GDSs. Corporates and TMCs have so much more choice with solutions for low touch options for corporates making simple bookings through to advanced tech solutions dealing with integrations across all areas of the industry and their own businesses.   

Your favourite piece of technology created for the travel industry ever? (Except Midoco/Umbrella of course)

We have created our own Technology at Focus so it has to be Focus FareFinder. It saves so much time and finds the cheapest fares available, across the partnership in 2019 alone it found savings of £4m.

What would you recommend travel newbies to do in terms of technology?

Head to the Traveltech show and see all the various products available and how they all fit together. Technology is ever changing so ensuring you understand what all the pieces do and the end result is key. Also, research key companies on social media and follow key companies that will help expand your learning and knowledge, for example Focus Travel Partnership posts news across many platforms in many ways.

At present, what are the hottest and most relevant challenges in the industry?

There are so many hot topics now ! Data is everything right now, we’re seeing this ourselves and then in the likes of IATA with DDS. Sustainability will remain high on the list, everyone wants to be informed about their carbon footprint choices whether for business or pleasure. Corporates are fast learning about CO2 reporting and offsetting choices. The conversations are increasing more and more about CO2 and how they bring this into their decision making policies.  Lastly, our future talent pool is a key challenge right across the industry, were is the next generation of travel talent coming from, how do we attract and then retain that talent – the industry that once regarded itself as an attraction purely down to being the ‘travel industry’ is no longer enough of a draw in this market.  

Quick-fire questions

Water or mountains? Water
Train or plane? Plane
Tea or coffee? Tea
Dog or cat? That’s like picking between my kids, I cant chose!
Beach or adventure? Beach
Remote, office or hybrid? Hybrid
Favourite movie? Rocky IV
Favourite song? On top of the world- the Carpenters 
Favourite destination? Florence
Being a travel rockstar yourself what Rockstar would you like to meet?
Steve Tyler
Have you ever met a rockstar? Do Sister Sledge count?
What’s next on your bucket list? A safari


Who's the next Business Travel Rockstar we should interview?

Noah Meyerson of TRAVELTRUST.

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