Scott Morrow at Luxury Link Interview
International Excellence interviewes Scott Morrow, CEO of Luxury Link, the luxury travel site.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Clinton, Tennessee, a small town of 3,000 residents at the foothills of the Smokey Mountains.
How did you start in the industry?
I have always been an avid traveller and followed the industry closely. I am an early adopter when it comes to travel and am always trying out the latest app, product or service. However, my first career opportunity in travel was just three years ago. It was more coincidence than plan but it was undoubtedly love at first experience.
When and how did you start with your company?
I was appointed CEO of Luxury Link Travel Group on 1st November 2013. Searching for my next CEO opportunity, I was approached by a recruiter about Luxury Link. I was really attracted by Luxury Link’s innovative business model, the proprietary direct relationships with hotels and resorts that spanned 82 countries, and the fact that as a consumer I could really identify with the product. During my interview process with the company, I actually anonymously purchased a Luxury Link package and took a trip to Mexico in order to trial the service and experience the brand. On that trip I interviewed other guests, spoke with the hotel management, and really tried to understand the value of Luxury Link and competitive options in the market. That experience gave me the confidence that Luxury Link was truly a great value for consumers and an effective marketing platform for hoteliers.
Who have been the most interesting clients and why?
The best clients are the ones who understand marketing and are focused on long-term success. Luxury Link is a powerful marketing platform that builds partner brands, delivers direct leads and incremental transactions, especially during low and shoulder seasons. Clients that really understand it include Gansevoort Hotels, Orient – Express Hotels and Resorts, and Destination Hotels & Resorts. These brands are focused on targeting the right consumers and building a brand that will endure. I am also fond of clients who simply like to try new things. It’s my bias that trial and error is what leads to innovation and growth. It’s also a hell of a lot more fun than simply doing the same thing over and over (and expecting different results).
What actions and qualities most contributed to your success?
Decisiveness. I am not afraid to make decisions. Too many organizations are fearful or incapable of making decisions and this leads to paralysis and, ultimately, decay. I don’t always make the right decision, and I’ve made my share of mistakes, but I’m always moving forward. I believe that leaders who are in a constant state of forward motion will eventually find the way. I’ve also had a degree of failure in my career and I think that’s a good thing. I’ve definitely learnt more from my failures than my successes. I think it’s really important that people not be afraid to fail as true innovation comes from trying new things.
What do you regard as the single most important quality to have in business?
Leadership. If you are not leading, you are following. And the market rewards leaders. For me, leadership is comprised of several important qualities—strategy, judgement, integrity, passion and communication. It’s essential that you have a strategic framework that takes into account the competitive marketplace with regard to consumer and partner needs, and that you position your business accordingly. Unfortunately, decisions are often forced without perfect information and/or compressed timelines and that’s where judgement is important. And, like life in general, it’s tempting to take short cuts to get results but it almost always backfires. Making decisions with integrity and being able to look in the mirror each day is paramount for long-term, enduring success. Lastly, you have to solicit the help of others to accomplish big goals, so passion, commitment and the ability to communicate a vision clearly is critical to getting people to support you.
What is the best day you ever had?
That is a tough question but the day that popped in my head is celebrating my 40th birthday with four of my best friends at the Kentucky Derby in box seats at the finish line. Oh, and might I add that I hit the Exacta that day as well which paid for everyone’s dinner!
What is your favourite thing to do when not working?
I love to travel which is why I have the best job in the world. I am not a foodie but I do enjoy fine dining and a great bottle of wine. And a round of golf with good friends at nice course always puts a smile on my face.
Your favourite city and why?
I haven’t spent a lot of time there but I adore Capetown. The topography is breath taking, it’s cultural, offers limitless outdoor activities, and has friendly residents and fantastic wine. It’s a magical place and I’d love to spend more time there.
What actions do you take to keep a certain quality of life?
I try to exercise as often as possible. My motor tends to run fast and I’m intense and competitive and without exercise I am not very fun to be around. I also need a healthy dose of time with friends. For me, friends are like family and spending time with them keeps me grounded and happy.
What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?
I want to bring luxury travel to as many people in the world as possible. It’s an ambitious endeavour but we all deserve to feel special, rewarded, to indulge in luxury, whether that be for special occasions, anniversaries, or as a matter of lifestyle preference. In that pursuit, Luxury Link is aggressively expanding its hotelier partnerships globally. We are also launching Luxury Link branded localised international web sites so that consumers can discover luxury travel in their native language and purchase with local currency. We’ve recently launched our UK site and have plans to expand to other countries in 2014. Lastly, we are constantly working on making our web site better and easier to use and delivering world-class customer service.
Who or what brand do you recommend for an excellence award (not your own)?
Tumi. I live out of my suit case and generally have my laptop bag with me. Both are Tumi. No frills, no fuss, the products just work. Tumi has taken a fairly utility category in luggage and built a leading brand that has emotional qualities. That’s pretty special and very hard to do.