Interview with Flo Lugli

1. How has your career path changed up until now?
I started in the travel industry in the early 1980’s working for a start-up airline that was born out of deregulation called People Express. I had not planned on a career in travel and quite honestly had not even heard of People Express until I went to the mass interview in a hotel ballroom in NJ. From there I moved into hospitality with a highly acquisitive company that eventually grew into one of the largest hotel franchise companies in the world (HFS/Cendant). Their acquisition of Avis and subsequently of Galileo gave me the opportunity to expand my roles to travel technology at a time when the industry was undergoing significant digital and technical transformation. For the past 10 years I’ve taken all that wonderful experience as a foundation for my own consulting practice.

2. Did you have a mentor who helped you get to where you are now?
If so, what would you say is the most important thing you learned from your mentor? I didn’t have any formal mentors since during this time in my career mentoring was not as formal or visible as today. But I would say that I worked for several people whose leadership styles I chose to emulate, as well as several who I clearly did not want to model myself on. As I moved up on my career I was fortunate to have a strong network of other women in similar circumstances and we supported each other’s careers.

3. What advice would you give to those pursuing their first business venture?
Be flexible, very few start-ups don’t make changes in their business strategy, including complete pivots based upon market conditions. Be diligent in prioritizing your time, resources and focus, don’t run after every shiny ring or opportunity. Know the market and competitive landscape so you can identify your unique selling proposition that will set you apart.

4. How do you overcome risk when it comes to making business decisions?
Taking risk is simply part of business. Use fact-based criteria for decisions, seek out others’ views and weigh potential pros/cons. Identify the “what ifs” and what options you have. Always have a plan B.

5. Why did you decide to become a mentor/ investor for the Hospitality Innovation Hub Incubator?
I like to give back to the industry that has been so good to me, and I’ve known Richie for so many years so wanted to help him be successful.

6. What book are you reading now?
I like to read for pleasure, especially historical fiction/non-fiction, so am now reading “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris.

7. What is your favorite vacation destination?
It’s hard to pick one, depending upon the purpose of the trip. Anywhere in Europe for historical and sightseeing, love Florence, Paris, London. For sun and sand St. John, Antigua, Aruba, and Polynesia—Morea and Bora Bora are amazing.

8. What is your favorite movie?
I have so many, it’s hard to pick one. The Godfather series, It’s a Wonderful Life, Saving Private Ryan. My tastes, as you can see, vary greatly.

9. Any last words you would like to share....
I am honored to be included as a mentor in the Hospitality Innovation Hub and it’s so encouraging to see such passion and excitement in the young people in the program.

Flo Lugli