Caroline Strachan, Festive Road
Caroline Strachan is managing partner at Festive Road, a corporate travel management consultancy firm that counts Sabre, IATA and Marriott International as clients.
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.
Knowing what you know now, if you could go back to the start of the coronavirus crisis, what would you do differently?
I’d change thinking back in January from, “It’s an issue in China,” to, “Buckle your seat belt, this is going to be a global and not-so-pleasant rollercoaster ride.”
What have you learned from this time about the way you’ll manage and communicate with your team moving forward?
Humans crave certainty, yet as leaders I think it's our job to share the art of the possible but always with a dose of reality. The truth as it stands today is that no one knows what will happen going forward, so we have been saying, “We don’t have all the answers, but here’s what we believe …”
I’d like to think we’ve always been transparent in our team communication, but these past few months have reminded us of the importance of this moving forwards. My business partner Paul and I learned early on that we needed to up the ante on communication. We’re a global business already operating virtually, our people needed connection beyond the media and their home-life bubbles.
We moved to a regular open-agenda Zoom meeting. The team could ask us anything, talk about anything and at the beginning of the call we’d always share two words as to how we were all feeling in the chat function, not as intrusive as having to say it verbally but a good way of seeing how people are doing.
What do you miss the most about travel?
Human connection is the obvious loss I feel, but I also miss the time out for myself. As a business owner, volunteer leader, wife and mum to twin 7-year-olds there’s never much time for me. Airplane mode was always welcome downtime to catch up on movies and a good book.
I also find I crave a different time zone to experience jet lag that has me up at 4 a.m. so I can be out enjoying the sunrise somewhere different in the world. (I can’t believe I miss jet lag, things must be bad!)
What have been the surprise benefits to not traveling?
Exercising daily and having dinner with my children every day. Being able to plan meals is a luxury I’ve never had time for before, pairing healthy eating with the new exercise regime has given me a new set of energy reserves.
What lasting changes will there be to you personally from this time?
I hope a lasting amount of additional headspace vs. the previous multiple-browsers-open mode I used to run in.
What’s been your one guilty pleasure during lockdown?
Schitt’s Creek on Netflix. What a joyous watch on so many levels.
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