Travelogix Presents…Chris Goddard

Travelogix Presents…Chris Goddard

Next up in our Travelogix Presents series, and for our 10th Edition, we sat down with Chris Goddard, Managing Director at Australian-based The Maxim’s Group (TMG)

Maxim’s Travel, which forms part of TMG, has been a Travelogix customer since 2019, so we’re delighted we’re able to sit down with Chris to learn more about the Australian business travel market as we head into 2023.

Maxim’s Travel and the Australian market.

Maxim’s Travel was born in 1988 with a very niche requirement that saw them servicing French businesses that had a presence in Australia. (The original owners of this Australian-based TMC were French)

Chris said, “Over time, we have broadened our horizons and while still heavily involved in the French community domiciled in Australia, sheer growth and economic targets dictated that we needed to expand our portfolio.

“In 2005, once taking complete ownership, my focus was to broaden our debtor base and raise our profile in the Australian corporate travel market.”

Success stories are heartwarming to hear, so upon learning more about Chris’ journey at Maxim’s, it’s hard to not feel enriched and inspired.

Joining Maxim’s Travel in 1988 as an office junior, Chris worked his way up via various roles in the company until 1995, when he purchased a small shareholding in the company – he then took full ownership in 2005.

Chris speaks of the “core values” on which the company is predicated. He tells me that “communication and innovation” are two of those core values.

Chris states, “Our teams are tasked with ensuring our values are lived, and not just words on the wall.

“Whilst Covid has presented challenges on the communication piece due to a fragmented workforce, it is critical that we double down on this value to ensure all stakeholders are completely up to date with both industries, and TMG strategies and information.”

On the innovation front, Maxim’s created their own bespoke technology, called MAXIMise. Chris said, “Creating our own technology for an SME business is unique, however, it differentiates our offering from our competitors and is a robust tool for our client covering many aspects of their travel spend. Technology really is at the heart of what we do.”

He continued, “Our constant goal is to synergise our technology with our customer focus. In today’s world, one of these elements cannot stand in isolation. MAXIMise is our OBT, Duty of Care, Contract Analysis System and Quality Control tool – so it has come a long way since its birth in 2005 as a rudimentary booking tool.

“It supports our consultant team in their daily work tasks, but it does not replace the value that a professional travel consultant brings to the travel ecosystem and the entire workflow of a travel plan.

“We treat each one of our clients as an individual and therefore because MAXIMise is our bespoke technology, we can tailor it to each client as they wish. There are no ‘workarounds’ at TMG. This is where the power of technology is brought to the fore.”

A new year, a new sense of optimism.

Recovery was strong for Maxim’s throughout the second half of 2022, and although there is some slowing across the industry, Chris remains optimistic, “The market is buoyant, with the recovery out of COVID taking a lot of people by surprise.

“The consensus was that the recovery would be cautious and slow, however, this was way off the mark. The recovery was rapid with travellers wanting to ‘get moving’ again and capacity limitations caused excessively high airfares, yet the consumer was still willing to pay.”

Along with some clear opportunities for the industry, which we’ll come on to later, there are of course some hurdles to face this year. “Headwinds are coming and there is now a rationalisation in airfares as demand starts to soften – 2023 is shaping up to be less hectic than the last six months of 2022.”

Speaking more broadly, Chris added, “This industry is currently at crossroads driven by factors outside the TMC community.

“Airlines are driving substantial change because of cost mitigation strategies and the synergies between GDS, and Airline objectives are widening. TMCs need to become the masters of their own destinies and begin to drive the change that they want to see for themselves.

“We can no longer be bystanders in the hope that airline suppliers have our industry’s best interest at heart. We understand that these comments are controversial, however, at TMG, we lead from the front and are implementing changes within our workflow processes to ensure our viability.

“The other side of this equation is that because we act more independently, we hold the supplier accountable to both us and our client. We encourage the global TMC community to stand up and be counted.”

What opportunities are in store for the wider industry as we head further into 2023? Are there reasons to be cheerful, or will there be a stop/start approach due to the myriad of economic and geopolitical issues impacting us from around the globe?

“When opportunity knocks – open the door! Covid has reinforced the value of travel management companies and we have leveraged this sentiment and have witnessed our portfolio grow quite substantially”, said Chris.

The requirement to work with travel professionals is stronger than ever, with a growing number of companies now looking to connect and work with large, and independent, TMCs. But are there hurdles around the recruitment of talent back to our industry?

There have been talent gaps across the business travel space since redundancies and restructuring took hold in 2020/21, but will 2023 see that swath of talent come back to our industry?

Chris said, “I believe we will start to attract people back to the industry that was lost during Covid. People in our industry are passionate about travel and I see a remarkable opportunity in having these people come back.

“They will bring new ideas from other industries which we may be able to adapt and hopefully improve our way of doing things.”

From his office junior days in the late 80s, up to where Chris sits now in 2023, as Managing Director at Maxim’s, he has seemingly always appreciated the journey one must go on to realise true potential. There’s a level of understanding that comes with work ethic and perseverance.

Chris said, “Always – and I mean ALWAYS – be respectful of other people’s position even if they are at the polar opposite of where you are. Growth comes from a broad understanding of a situation and don’t be fearful of growth.”