Q&A: Jared Simcox, General Manager Scoot Airlines
From starting out as a baggage handler at Auckland Airport to contributing to the global aviation business strategy, Jared Simcox talks about his never-ending travel curiosity and reveals why he is so passionate about his role at Scoot, a company that challenges the status quo – just like him.
When did you start out in the travel industry?
I suppose I began my career in travel when I took a job as a baggage handler at Auckland Airport nearly eight years ago. I had stepped back from my “career” as a musician and decided to start from scratch – having always had an interest in aviation. Who knew then where it would lead me to now?!
What is it you love about working in the airline industry?
The airline industry is in a crazy formative state at the moment. There’s a huge amount of change, innovation, competition, diversification and it’s really exciting to be a part of this current phase of industry evolution alongside other really smart, ambitious people.
What is your favourite city (or three) to visit in the Scoot network and why?
This is a bit like asking a parent to pick their favourite child isn’t it? I’ll try though…
I LOVE Singapore, it’s so much more than the polished metropolis many folks presume it to be. I like to spend time hanging out at the food centres (East Coast Park, Changi Village and the Tekka Centre are faves), going wakeboarding on the lagoon, or just wandering the streets at any hour of day or night. Singapore really is the melting pot of Asia and I can’t get enough of it.
I should (because I’m here as I’m writing this) say the Maldives has to be included. It’s unreal. All those photographs of gin clear water, gentle ocean breezes, powdery white sand – all true. I’ve just spent five days of diving here and it is hands down the most spectacular warm water diving I’ve ever done. It’s technically the low season, but it’s been 29 degrees and sunny every day – and because it’s low season the rates are much less, the hotels are quiet and the already low fare tickets (AKA Scoot) are especially competitive.
I was in Bangkok for a weekend earlier in the year and it’s really the next nearest major city from Singapore on the Scoot network besides Kuala Lumpur. It’s super overwhelming and I felt out of my comfort zone (something I deliberately pursue when traveling) each day. Wandering the markets, trying the various ‘mystery meats’ on offer (a-la ‘what sound did this meat make when it was alive?’), finding a quiet local bar and washing the taste down or dressing up and hitting some of the most spectacular roof top bars in the world – it’s all there to be had in Bangkok. I suppose it’s one of the true Jekyll and Hyde cities – on the one hand it’s very grungy and authentic, and on the other it’s very polished and European. You can have either experience or both.
Scoot is doing really well – why do you think it has resonated with not just budget travellers?
I think we got our message right. What we’re on a mission to communicate is that flying an unbundled airline (like Scoot – where you choose all the extra bits you want to pay for) is not just about cost, it’s about flexibility to choose where the cost lies. For example, many of our business traveller guests are thrilled to pay a few hundred bucks and fly ScootBiz, have a good meal, WiFi, and a super comfortable seat at the pointy end of the aeroplane – they don’t need a flat bed, luxury catering, etc, and don’t want the cost. Of course, there’s a place for that kind of product too – but not for everyone, all the time, and not for every business.
It turns out the hotel I’m staying in right now uses Scoot for their staff travel (about 400 staff commuting around Asia/India every few months) and because of the low fares, many of them are able to make two or three trips home or for holidays each year rather than the usual one, because their travel allowance goes that much further on a Scoot ticket.
Likewise, I’ve met a few families where they’ve been able to save considerably when picking and choosing the extra number of extras they need for their journey. They might share checked bags, bring their own device with Netflix downloads, etc – although I’d naturally love for people to be buying things on board, I always get a little joy out of people really planning/gaming the system to allow them to travel further and more often on Scoot!
I think what it comes down to is “am I going to be safe, and am I going to be comfortable, and if I want something – can I get it?” – and I think Scoot offers all of those things well.
You live in Sydney – which three places do you love showing off to international visitors?
Shelly Beach in Manly for a snorkel or dive in the marine sanctuary, a drink at the revolving ‘O’ bar on George St (spectacular views of the city) and the cliffs of La Perouse when there’s a big swell rolling in.
What are your favourite restaurants to take guests to in Sydney?
LP’s Quality Meats in Chippendale (oh so good BBQ – expect a meat coma), The Batch in Newtown for a little taste of home, and Arisun in the CBD for Korean fried chicken and beer.
When not travelling for work, where do you like to go?
Usually somewhere I haven’t been before! I love going back to New Zealand and visiting Mum and Dad in the high country of Lake Tekapo (can you believe it’s already snowing there?!) but otherwise I try not to retrace my footsteps.
Which places in the world would you love to visit that you haven’t been to before?
I have a very long list!
Chichijima Island – rumoured to be the Galapagos of the East and only accessible by a 24-hour ferry ride from Tokyo. As far as I can tell it’s super undeveloped and there’s some serious marine exploring to be done – which is right up my alley.
North Eastern India (Assam, Nagaland and surrounds). I’ve met a few locals who tell me amazing stories and I’m all worked up about getting there now. I’ve been told the region has a huge Korean influence which I just can’t imagine so I’m busting to see it for myself!
Nepal – I’ve been promising some friends of mine for years that we’ll meet half way and do the Mount Everest Base Camp trek together and I keep getting side tracked.
What tips to you have for people starting out in the airline/travel industry?
Bring value, not necessarily experience.
When I joined Scoot, I had NO commercial airline experience besides literally loading bags and cleaning the toilets on the aircraft some seven years earlier. Between then and now I built up my knowledge in sales, marketing, e-commerce and a few other bits and bobs that meant I had an idea on what challenges and opportunities were present in the aviation market – and I had some ideas on how to overcome them.
There’s nothing more powerful than someone telling you where they see an opportunity for your business and immediately proposing a solution for achieving it. It’s ok to learn by doing.
I think it’s really helpful to be a good story teller – either if you’re painting a picture to a customer who’s planning their dream vacation, or articulating that an aeroplane seat without a screen in the back is actually not a bad thing, being able to contextualise things with words is a really powerful skill in this business.
Diversify your mentors and influences – and don’t be shy about asking! I have countless people who I consider mentors, friends and coaches that I brainstorm with, ask for guidance and receive wisdom from. Only one or two are actually in the travel industry.
Finally, just get out there and do it! The travel industry is so big and it just keeps evolving, and it’s a really exciting time to be a part of it.