His love for travel brought SHMS Swiss Hotel Management School alumnus Jonathan Wan to the airline industry where he excels in a digital landscape to enhance the customer experience.
The usually bustling streets of Tokyo were eerily quiet for weeks. But as the nation starts to ease restrictions and return to normalcy, there is a sense of optimism for the travel industry.
From the Japan Airlines (JAL) headquarters in Tokyo, Jonathan Wan chats about his experiences and the digital landscape of the dynamic aviation industry. As the Director of Global Marketing, the SHMS Swiss Hotel Management School alumnus oversees JAL’s communications and media strategy for markets outside Japan. His role also involves working closely with internal stakeholders on channel strategy and digital transformation.
Many of our travel experiences begin digitally, be it dreaming of a holiday while browsing through an Instagram feed or experiencing a location through travel vlogs.
“We live in an increasingly digital world and the current pandemic has accelerated digital adoption. Think about the prevalence of digital in your own life, many of our travel experiences begin digitally, be it dreaming of a holiday while browsing through an Instagram feed or experiencing a location through travel vlogs. While these digital experiences cannot substitute great physical hospitality, they act as a great complement to heighten anticipation and serve as a great first impression.”
The Hospitality and Events Management graduate started his career in catering sales in the hotel industry and successfully ventured into advertising for six years, before coming full circle back to travel and hospitality.
The transition between roles proved to be seamless for the young Singaporean who attributes his culturally diverse background to giving him an advantage during his time at SHMS Swiss Hotel Management School, and preparing him to manage a team with global offices. An advocate for diversity at an early age, he even researched and based his thesis on the topic!
Have you always been interested in hospitality?
I actually “stumbled” into hospitality. I grew up in a family of bankers and accountants who are thankfully incredibly supportive. I was contemplating a business degree, but the allure of travel took hold of me after high school and I wanted to broaden my horizons. Swiss Hotel Management School provided me with the best of both worlds as it allowed me to better understand how business and management worked through the lens of travel. My dream job though was initially to be a radio DJ, something I gave up pretty quickly for which I’m thankful.
What made you decide to further your studies at SHMS Swiss Hotel Management School?
Who wouldn’t want to further their studies at a real-life Hogwarts?
I’m not going to lie, it was the magnificent Caux campus that caught my attention. Who wouldn’t want to further their studies at a real-life Hogwarts? Superficial aspects set aside, it was the versatility of the program that attracted me as I knew it would offer me more options upon graduation.
What were some of the highlights during your time at SHMS Swiss Hotel Management School?
Definitely the friendships made. Friendships not only with my fellow course mates but with the lecturers and staff as well, many of which I am still in touch with today. The environment at Swiss Hotel Management School is unlike anything you will find anywhere else. We were such a close-knit community that it felt like family, which is further exemplified by allowing us to practice and experience hospitality on a daily basis.
How do you feel about the future in light of the current global situation?
I am hopeful that the world will emerge stronger from the global pandemic. Businesses and governments need to cooperate more with each other to overcome this crisis. This is the time for hospitality to shine, when compassion for those affected is most needed. COVID-19 has many implications for the travel industry which are likely to change as we learn more about the virus and the ways to deal with it.