Ang Choo Pin left the world of politics and diplomacy to join travel because he saw an opportunity to make an impact in an industry that he believes is truly a force for good.
Yeoh Siew Hoon catches up with Expedia Group’s senior director for government and corporate affairs for Asia to find out what his job entails and what his mission is.
Q: You have an impressive background in politics and economics – worked with Standard Chartered Bank as head of public affairs, and before that, a diplomat in Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs covering International Organisations, Middle East, and Northeast Asia, where you were Singapore’s Deputy Consul-General to Shanghai. So why did you choose to enter travel – some might perceive travel to not be as serious an industry as banking or diplomacy or politics?
It was three years ago and I still remember the phone call I got. The first question was, have you ever thought about entering travel? My answer was no but I love travel. When I came in, and learnt more, I became intrigued. Things were changing so fast, and travel makes people smile. Banking does not.
Q: How do you bring the world of diplomacy to travel?
I was a diplomat for eight years. A lot of the skills are specialised and can be transported to other industries. I think the most important skill is getting to the crux of the issue and knowing why something matters – which is problem solving.
As a diplomat, you represent the country and help solve problems. You have to work with international bodies, you have to know your own politics and interests, as well as the other parties’, to come to a mutual solution.
Ang Choo Pin: “Congestion in key destinations is a growing concern, and we are working with both Indonesia and Thailand.”
Q: It’s like having empathy in other words?
Yes, you have to understand the other person’s point of view – are these the reasons they can only say this – and help them arrive at a mutually acceptable point.
Q: What’s your mission as Expedia Group’s Senior Director for Government and Corporate Affairs for Asia?
How can we use diplomacy as a tool to break down barriers in travel to empower and better the lives of people? How can they benefit in a sustainable way? For tourism to succeed, it has to be sustainable, not only in environmental terms but also on equitable ones. Travellers should not only be going to one or two cities but should be dispersed to other areas.
Q: What’s the eventual outcome of what you do?
The optimal allocation of resources so that tourism exerts itself in a positive way. Tourism is a tremendous force for good and has the ability to change lives.
Q: What tangible help do you provide to achieve that outcome?
As an example, Expedia Group recently launched two new features on Expedia Group Partner Central, to help new hotel partners who are unfamiliar with online distribution ease their transition into the digital world.
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