Three questions for... Steven Small, brand director, Routes

In our regular Routes News series we take a look at the people that attend Routes events and find out more about them, their jobs and the current industry issues impacting them.

In our regular Routes News series we take a look at the people that attend Routes events and find out more about them, their jobs and the current industry issues impacting them. In this issue, ahead of his first official day in Routes' Manchester office, we speak to new brand director Steven Small.

Steven SmallQ) What are your key priorities for Routes?

Starting in February after leaving my old job as head of tourism at Marketing Liverpool, I am keen to hit the ground running. My main priority will be to listen, as I need to understand what our partners and delegates want from our events and where they think we need to make changes in order to improve them. As a result, I will be focusing on talking to delegates and listening to how they benefit from attending and how we might improve.

Second, Routes is a complex organisation to support the world of route development, so I need to understand how everything works in the business at our end. We have a lot of operational requirements for each event and I am keen that we should deliver them as seamlessly as possible.

Finally, I will also be considering the strategy for the future. This will not be simply about changes but seeing what we need to do to improve and innovate and meet the changing demands of the route development industry.

As a result, I need to start building relationships and I am lucky that both Routes Americas and Routes Asia are taking place so soon. They will be two quite different events and will really give me an idea of what we do and how we do it. I am confident that I will be able to draw on the huge amount of talent, knowledge and experience in the Routes team, all of whom I am keen to engage with.

Q) How much will you be drawing on your previous experience working in tourism?

Massively. Route development is about understanding that the airport is a global gateway and plays a significant role in supporting the destination it serves. When you look at different global cities, they all have different pressures when it comes to attracting new routes and need to come up with different solutions.

When tourism boards and airports work together to attract new routes, they have a far better story to tell airlines in terms of a more comprehensive offer. I’m hoping that my experience with destinations in both tourism and inward investment will help us to work with airports and their supporting partners better.

Nor is it just about attracting a new route either. It is a big business decision to fly an aircraft into a destination and support needs to be there, not just at the launch but to ensure it is sustainable and economically viable.

It’s not just tourist boards that have a role to play, but organisations like trade associations, inward investment agencies and, of course, academia. Each of them plays a vital role within the destination, whether it’s attracting business visitors, leisure visitors, or attracting new undergraduates. All of these markets play a role in ensuring a new route and its airport remain successful.

Q) What are you most and least looking forward to in the new role?

The thing I am most looking forward to is working with the Routes team. I’ve met a few of them already and it feels like they are an incredible group, and I’m really excited to get to meet the rest of them.

I’m also looking forward to the forthcoming Routes events. I want to see how they work in the industry and it will be great to experience them first hand as well as some of the fantastic destinations where they are taking place. Going to Las Vegas one month and then Okinawa the next is a fantastic way to kick off working for Routes.

As far as what I am least looking forward to, I don’t think there is anything. There is quite a bit of long-haul travel and I know there will be some pressure to get up to speed on the route development world as quickly as possible. However, I hear the route development community is made up of a lot of pleasant people and I’m sure they will be more than happy to assist me in doing so.

Routes News 1 - Steven Small

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Routes News 1, 2017 Cover