Name: Andrew Gee
Position title: Vice President Sales & Marketing – Asia Pacific
Company name: Outrigger Hospitality Group
When and why did you join the industry?
I joined the travel industry in early 1982 as a domestic travel consultant working for Howard Smith and Patrick Travel, in Pitt St Sydney. I joined this industry because of my early passion for travel and adventure (courtesy of my Mum who loved to travel), I knew by Year 10 at school that this was the industry for me and I actually went to TAFE at night to study travel & tourism while attending high school during the day to complete my HSC. TAFE never knew I was at school during the day, they thought I was unemployed.
What do you like most about your job?
I am so blessed to work with an amazing and dedicated team in Australia who bring out the best in me. Due to working across different time zones, my day is always eventful – starting with our Hawai’i properties and finishing the day with our resort in Mauritius, and covering Fiji, Thailand, and Maldives in between. No two days are ever the same.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
Winning the Young Achiever in Tourism Award in 1994 – this included a 3 month scholarship at the University of Hawaii studying travel and tourism – maybe back then the “Aloha Gods” knew that Hawaii was going to feature in my long (17+ years) career with Outrigger!
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
Geoffrey Shaw, my old boss and former owner of Castaway Island Fiji and majority owner of Outrigger Fiji taught me the value of strong business relationships that result in win/win outcomes. I worked with Geoff for 13+ years (2001 to 2014), and learnt so much from him. He is still a great friend and mentor to me today.
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Alan Joyce, CEO Qantas. I admire his steely determination and he is one of the best public speakers I have ever heard. I would be honoured to meet him one day.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
Outrigger is a beach resort brand that has a clear objective to offer premier toes-in-the-sand experiences throughout our beachfront destinations around the world. Offering authentic cultural activities and the spirit of caring for our guests, our hosts (staff) and our place is at the core of Outrigger’s unique hospitality and embedded into the essence of who we are. We call it Ke ‘Ano Wa’a, translated from the Hawai’ian language to mean ‘The Outrigger Way’.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
The Greek Islands, Turkey, Morocco, Argentina, Brazil, Sri Lanka – to name just a few!
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
In July 2018 I took my 2 boys aged 15 & 13 years on a driving holiday throughout the mid-west USA. We covered 6000 kms in 15 days and had a ball. Our accommodation budget was A$100 per night which made for some ‘interesting’ road side motel experiences. It was a valuable bonding time for the three of us with some incredible sights, experiences and laughs along the way. The bad was BA losing my suitcase on a flight between LHR/MAD which didn’t show up for 3 days – I had to wear borrowed clothes from my business colleague for my sales appointments in Spain.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
Bose noise cancelling headphones, multiple credit cards and a sense of adventure mixed with patience!
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
Jerry Seinfeld & New York City
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
I believe the industry will become more automated and purchase impulsive. Yet the need for experienced travel professionals (agents) who know their destinations and trade shouldn’t be underestimated.
My favourite saying and personal ethos is “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”