103 | Travel, Tourism and Tech with Martin Owen

Martin Owen joined the industry as a travel agent specializing in corporate travel, before working in reservations and sales for an international airline. He moved back into agency management eventually managing a chain of travel agencies in London.

In 1983, he joined Travelbag, a small company of 12 people selling discounted air tickets to Australia. He was part of the ownership team that grew the company to 400 people as a major long-haul tour operator. Travelbag also ran its own charter flight operation with daily flights to Australia from the UK, and owned a tourist ranch and hotel in Central Australia.

On selling his stake in Travelbag in 1996, he established a Tourism Consultancy, Owen Organization. The consultancy assisted in air and land product purchasing for a major tour operator; technology management for an international travel agency group; technology consulting for Sabre/American Airlines in Europe; establishing travel industry distribution for Serviced Apartment rentals worldwide; and developed a travel agency specializing in international travel for dogs among other projects.

Martin also owned part of a web design and software development company that created a web based reservations system for small tour operators and villa and apartment rental firms.

Martin moved to the US in 2007 immediately working for the Jay Odom Group of Companies handling marketing for Uptown Station, Hammock Bay, Destin Jet and NuFletch, before joining ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals as Regional Marketing Director for Florida and South Alabama. Martin reestablished his consultancy in 2015 and now works with companies and organizations across the Gulf Coast.

He is a past Chair of the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce; served as vice chair of the Walton County Military Affairs Committee; was on the Marketing Committee of Coastal Vision 3000 (TheBeach); sat on the board of the Okaloosa County TDC and is the Tourism representative on the Okaloosa County RESTORE Advisory Committee.

Martin is a Fellow of both the Institute of Travel & Tourism, and the U.K. Institute of Directors. He sat on the international Committee of Visit Florida and was Chair of the Marketing Committee of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. He holds a diploma in Photography from Brunel University.

In This Episode, Martin Reveals

  • His hospitality experience working in the UK, Australia and the United States, and the differences and similarities he observed.
  • The diversity of the 200 miles of beach in Northwest Florida – from the high rises of Panama City, to the family-oriented Ft. Walton Beach, to the 30A area which is 16 or 17 different neighborhoods, each with a different feel.
  • Some of the observations he has made over the years, including the 5-7 CVBs in Northwest Florida that see each other as competition and rarely work together.
  • How different CVBs working together can increase tourism overall, while still enabling the individual areas to promote their strengths.
  • The speed of change in the hospitality industry, and how some resist the change instead of embracing it.

Resources & Links

Martin Owen

Owen Organization

Thanks for Listening!

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Until the next …

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