Michael Batt Talks Travel

If there is anyone I’ve met across the years who seemed destined to fulfill a successful career in “bidness”, as we like to mangle the term here in Texas, it is truly Michael Batt.  Mike is founder and chairman of Travel Leaders Group and is the latest travel industry expert to visit us here on Backroom Banter.

Mike is the business equivalent of Roy Hobbs, i.e. The Natural, without all the sub-plots.  If you want a quick overview of his immensely successful corporate career click here.  But honestly, that is just part of the story.  At heart, he is a bold entrepreneur with investments in restaurants, publishing, internet marketing, and only he, God and his tax attorney know what else.

Mike possesses that rare package of gifts the rest of us only pine for.  He has a keen analytical mind that enables him to quickly diagnose the financial health of a potential acquisition.  As you will see when you watch the video below, he is an effective communicator whether chatting one-on-one or captivating a large audience on stage.

Without a doubt, however, the single trait I most admire in Mike is his commitment to integrity.  One of the major reasons he has been able to broker the amazing deals he has with other industry giants is the transparent honesty he exudes in business dealings.  People quickly realize when negotiating with Mike that he has zero tolerance for sharp corners or shady deals.   There is a lesson here for all of us.  The word integrity is related to the word integer, meaning whole, as in whole numbers.  When you are just one thing, both without and within, it spares you loads of game playing.  This is the essence of being real.

You would think a guy with Mike’s immense gifts would at least have the decency to be an arrogant jerk so the rest of us could rationalize our jealousy.  But no, on top of everything, Mike has to go and be a genuinely warm, gracious and kindhearted person as well.  It has been my genuine privilege to count Mike a valued friend over more than a dozen years.

I will share one quick anecdote and on to the video interview.

Mike once told me that he was the son of a Welsh coal miner and was the first in his family to have the privilege of attending university.  Fresh out of school, his first job was with M & M Mars candy company.  As Mike tells it, he drove home flush with his new position and immediately dragged his father from his easy chair and out to his car.  He popped open the boot (trunk for you non-Anglophiles) to reveal hundreds of assorted candy bars.  His dad took one look, glanced over at Mike, coughed out a little mine dust and said, “Let me get this straight, I worked thirty years in a coal mine so you could sell candy bars out of the boot of your car?”  From candy merchant to capitalist mogul,  it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Now enjoy a few minutes with one of our industry’s leading lights as he shares his insights on the remarkable growth of Travel Leaders, the overall state of the travel industry and the merger between two New York powerhouse agencies, Tzell Travel Group and Protravel International. You will even get a glimpse into  how Mike likes to spend his own leisure time.  Just click on the image below to view the interview.

Thanks, Mike, for stopping by.  By the way, do you still have any connections over at Mars?  I really like those Twix bars.

Backroom Banter

This brief post introduces a new category I am calling “Backroom Banter”.

In the days ahead, if the Lord tarries and I keep the creditors at bay, I will be conducting one-on-one interviews with notable luminaries in the travel industry, and perhaps a few outside, who meet two criteria: something worthwhile to say and an engaging flair for saying it.

I think it is safe to assume that most of my readers, if not actually ardent travelers, are at the least furtively frittering away obscene blocks of time at work surfing the net andInterview with travel industry leaders daydreaming about travel.  Not to worry, it is our little secret . . . unless your boss reads this blog in which case you may soon have, if not the funds, at least unlimited time for travel.

I thought you might find it interesting to garner insights from travel industry influentials about  emerging trends, timely topics and insider tips.  If I am mistaken, this may well go down as one of the shortest blogging careers in cyber history.  However, if I do a proper job in the guest interviewee selection process, even if the questions are a bit lame, their insightful answers should be able to carry the day.

You will be excited to know I have already drawn a bead on my very first guest which, incidentally, proved quite a challenge since I don’t draw very well and he would not hold still.   While it would be premature to reveal his identity I have already reduced the possibilities by 50 percent or so merely by revealing his gender.  If I now add that he currently resides in North America and, as far as I know, has no felony criminal record, I am practically giving his identity away.

By my reckoning, at this point I have you drooling in anticipation of the first installment.  Either that or you have dozed off and are doing that disgusting thing people do when sleeping on airplanes.   If you want to read the first installment of “Backroom Banter” you will just have to mosey on back, as we practically never say here in Texas.

Who would you like to see take the “Backroom Banter” hot seat?