Todd Neuman serves as the Executive Vice President for South African Airways in North America. Based at the carrier’s North American Regional Office in Plantation (Fort Lauderdale), Florida. He oversees the commercial operations for South African Airways, including sales, marketing, and corporate communications. Neuman began his career with South African Airways in 2006, as vice president of sales, responsible for passenger sales strategies and business development.
An airline industry veteran with more than 30 years’ experience, Neuman has held senior management positions with World Travel Holdings, a leisure travel company based in Burlington, Massachusetts. Prior to his engagement with World Travel Holdings, Neuman served 22 years with US Airways in several management positions in the sales and marketing departments. During his tenure at US Airways, he was instrumental in business development to support the airline’s aggressive expansion into the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You have over 30 years of experience in the Airline industry, having previously served with US Airways in management positions in sales and marketing, as well as sales strategies and business development for SAA. Was there anything you learned in your previous experiences that you’ve carried with you?
Todd Neuman (TN): A couple of things that have really stuck with me throughout my career have been the important role of the customers in our business and the need to provide quality, consistent and caring service. The other is the integrity of fostering strong business relationships, both internally and externally, by valuing the important contributions of your employees, customers and travel partners towards the achievement of your goals and to success of your business.
TRO: In your current position as Executive Vice President, North America you oversee an array of different operations including sales, marketing, and corporate communications. How have you managed to wear so many different hats successfully?
TN: I will give much credit to my success in managing many responsibilities to the great team I work with in our North America Regional Office and colleagues in our corporate office in Johannesburg. It is a very experienced team all around and we are all very focus, well-aligned and work collaboratively towards achieving our common goals.
TRO: Any advice for anyone trying to break into that sector of travel?
TN: A career in travel can be very rewarding from the perspective of broadening your horizon and opening your world to new cultures, people and experiences, that otherwise might not be afforded in other industries. I believe people who are in the airline or travel industry are very passionate about their careers and their business.
TRO: Was there anything specifically that drew you to working in the travel industry? Have you always loved travel?
TN: My love of aviation is what initially drew me to work in this industry. That has grown to a love of travel as a whole. For me, traveling allowed me to enjoy unique opportunities in Africa and throughout the world that I never thought I could have experienced. From zip lining over Victoria Falls, to Big Five wildlife
in Kruger National Park, to taking in the majestic sunset over Cape Town. My travels to Africa, in particular, have really opened up my eyes to a whole new culture and experiences.
TRO:What does a typical day in your shoes look like? Is there a lot of travel involved? The same every day or is each day completely different? Walk us through your day!
TN: There is no typical day in the airline industry. Every day delivers unique challenges. However I work with a great team and no matter what challenges we face, we are collectively working towards the same goal.
TRO: You have been actively involved in the tourism industry, and even help advisory board positions for the Africa Travel Association and the Association for the Promotion of Travel to Africa. How have these experiences helped you in your position with South African Airways? Have they helped you in finding new marketing techniques to draw attention to African travel?
TN: South African Airways has always had an involvement and an important leadership role in many organizations in North America that have responsibility for promoting tourism and business development throughout the African continent. The various positions that I have held in these organizations have enabled me to collaborate with other industry professionals to share strategies and ideas that we have applied to our sales and marketing programs to further grow business to Africa.
TRO: Do you have a favorite place you like to travel to? If so, where is it?
TN: Cape Town, South Africa. Whether it’s the beaches of Camps Bay, the iconic Table Mountain, or the surrounding wine lands of the Western Cape, I have never been to a city so rich with abundant beauty. Not to mention the amazing food, rich culture and the warmth and hospitality of the South African people.
TRO: What about a place you have always wanted to travel to, but haven’t quite gotten there yet?
TN: Namibia. It is a country that offers spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife. The Skeleton coast with its shipwrecks is desolate but quite beautiful I have heard. The Namib Desert where the huge sand dunes are literally kissing the Atlantic Ocean makes for an incredible photo op. I am a big fan of skiing and usually take a ski trip each year. But I really need to test out my skills by trying sand dune skiing. SAA flies to Namibia daily from our hub in Johannesburg so it’s a quick two hour flight to this marvelous country.
TRO: What can we expect to see from South African Airways in 2018? Anything exciting you can share with us?
TN: At South African Airways, we are always trying to enhance the travel experience for our customers. For 2018 we are adding wide body flights to some of our most popular destination such as Mauritius. Also our regional partner in South Africa, Mango Airlines has introduced a new Thursday flight departing from our Johannesburg hub to Zanzibar. This new flight connects perfectly with our nonstop flight from New York JFK giving our travel trade partners another great destination to sell for 2018.