Freek Jansen, American Express Global Business Travel
Freek Jansen is general manager Benelux at American Express Global Business Travel. He has spent 16 years in the travel industry at senior commercial and operational roles with travel management companies.
In a series of interviews with executives participating in the online event in September, PhocusWire finds out what they have learned from the COVID-19 crisis.
With the benefit of hindsight, if you could go back to the start of the crisis, what would you do differently?
I guess for society in general the magnitude and severity of the impact was unexpected. That unexpectedness made it difficult to anticipate the full scope of events. I am truly proud of the adaptability of the teams and everyone in our organization. So not much to be honest.
What have you learned from this time about the way you'll manage and communicate with your team(s) moving forward?
Truly embracing digital means such as zoom, teams and hangouts can be a very efficient and fun way to communicate but the trap to be avoided is to become too business oriented. Even in digital meetings fun is truly important. We challenge teams for internal meetings to have “funny” screensavers. Great icebreaker and one that says a lot about who someone really is or what keeps someone going.
What do you miss most about travel?
The energy that is derived from seeing places, meeting people from different cultures and having face to face encounters. Technically a lot can be replaced with technology but nothing replaces a tab on the shoulder or a meal together after an intense project, a great success or a big team effort.
What have been the surprise benefits to not traveling?
Having a much more balanced life with time for family meals, sports and relaxation.
What lasting changes will there be to you personally from this time?
There is always opportunities is my personal mantra so fully acknowledging the world is going to be a different place, there is a role to play for all of us.
Keynote: Sustainability - What Now?
The air is cleaner and the birds are singing. Some are calling for a permanent change in behavior as we witness an improved environment with fewer people traveling. Has the coronavirus pause signaled a new direction for travel and sustainability? As the industry restarts, how can we find a balance?