“We need to become more sustainably minded and protect the places we want to see and experience” – CEO Q&A with Sharon Jordan of Irish Travel Trade Network

By Business & Finance
15 September 2021

Sharon Jordan is CEO of Irish Travel Trade Network (ITTN). ITTN is an advisory platform for inbound and outbound travel trade and are the ‘go to’ platform for up to date, factual news on all things travel in Ireland and abroad. Jordan has been at the fore of the travel industry for twenty years and last year took over ITTN.  Jordan started her career in Marketing for Panorama and Airtours, moving onto Sunway Holidays as Business Development Manager. 

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

My main goal when I bought the business was to bring a professional dimension to the industry, and to report timely and accurate news to the travel industry and the wider consumer as a whole.

 What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

The biggest challenge to date has been the fact the industry was unable to trade until the 19th of July this year, so it was incredibly difficult to plan for the future.   

 How do you keep your team/ staff motivated?

Treating the team with respect is very important to me. Respecting that they have a life outside of the business means that when it’s needed they can prioritise home life and when I need that little bit extra they give me the time and respect in return.

We work in a very fun industry. We work hard but we get to play hard, with invites to some of the most beautiful places in the world – and I make sure that everyone gets a share of the fun.  

 What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

The travel industry is reactive and volatile, and so we tend to be very resilient. The pandemic knocked us in a way I’ve never witnessed in my 27 years working. The main challenge facing us now is recruiting back qualified and experienced people and cash flow.  

 What new trends are emerging in your industry?

Revenge Tourism was the perceived type of trend that got banded around during global lockdowns, but actually what we are seeing is people are just getting out to visit family and friends that they haven’t seen in a long time. Short haul travel is also trending for 2022 as people still hold on to the worry of getting home quickly in the event of something else coming along. 

 Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

Yes, we need to become more sustainably minded and protect the places we want to see and experience. 

 As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market?

Our industry was decimated and we had a skill bleed which will take a long time to recoup. Training and government supports are key for the future of our industry.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector?

We were effectively closed down for 18 months so zero revenue, zero prospects. It absolutely destroyed every section of the travel industry.  

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

I define success based on personal happiness. It has always been my dream to own a business and to have a happy team that works with me to build a strong brand. 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Take your time, sleep on it and then address it. I tend to want everything five minutes ago and I know in previous roles my team would have joked that my favourite saying was “sure it only takes five minutes!” but it really, really works.  

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Building a company that started with just me 8 months ago to a team of eight people today. And of course restrictions ending so that we can begin to build revenue streams. The chance to get our national travel awards off the ground this December in the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road is just incredible. Roll on the 2nd of December when we will toast the return of the Travel industry.

What’s next for your company?

Well for the moment it’s holding tight until 2022 and making sure we are managing to keep the lights on. But as they say, the only way is up, especially when you start right at the bottom!

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

I want to make sure we are seen as the market leaders in Ireland for both the travel trade and the consumer.