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Meet Joel Hanson, Senior Director of Global Innovation Business Development

October 27, 2021

Joel Hanson has been appointed as Senior Director of Global Innovation Business Development. In the last couple of years Minneapolis based Joel has played a vital role in the conceptualization and launch of several tools, products and services to optimize efficiency and the traveler’s end-to-end travel experience.

We chat with Joel on business travel innovations, his favourite movie and how a TMC should be coupling a collaborative spirit with an appropriate audacity to bring fresh perspective.

What do you perceive as the most important business travel innovation of the last couple of years and why?

The most important business travel innovation of the last couple years is the customer itself. Our clients are witnessing transformational change on so many fronts, and with those changes has come a new set of perspectives. To some extent, the past 18 months have produced kind of a sea change in consciousness, with people having a chance to reflect – perhaps more deeply than ever before – on what is important to them. Against that backdrop, I think business travel is arguably at its most fascinating inflection point ever.

In terms of technology, there are many innovations I could point to, but I would highlight ZeroAvia as particularly ground-breaking. They are pioneers in the area of hydrogen-electric aircraft and could help usher in a new era in sustainable business travel.

If you had not ended up in innovation business development what other career could you have pursued and why?

For several years I was a product manager across a variety of domains. I used to see that role as a combination of stand-up comedian, consultant and bull dog. The comedian helped influence, the consultant shed light, and the bull dog reflected the sheer tenaciousness needed. So had I not ended up in innovation business development, perhaps I would have been a consultant focused on emerging technologies. The intersection of change, technology and user experience would have found me one way or another.

What do you like to do to relax after a busy working day?

Every single day I try to allow room for some form of empty space, whether in the form of a walk, listening to music, a guided meditation to fully relax the body, or simply creating some white space on the calendar. Without this, it’s a bit like breathing the same exact air over and over – we all need fresh air every day, in every sense.

What is your favourite movie and why?

That’s a difficult one as I love so many. That said, I have to pick the movie Miracle: a story about a player-turned-coach who leads the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Russian squad. It is such a fascinating study of leadership and teamwork and also has a bit of personal meaning to me because that hockey team practiced a few blocks from where I grew up. It’s an interesting reminder that amazing things can happen in your own backyard.

What do you think are the key aspects when looking out for a new TMC?

I think it’s a very subtle mixture of elements, and very high on the list are collaborative spirit coupled with an appropriate audacity to bring fresh perspective and an eye on what’s possible now – and next. Ultimately, I think clients want a bit of respectful challenging from their TMC, exploring what’s possible and having the time of their lives doing it.


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