Clark Twiddy of Twiddy & Company: The Future Of Travel In The Post COVID World

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine
10 min readOct 27, 2022

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First and foremost, I think the priority for lodging providers is to build and maintain trust as a safe place to visit. To do that, we’ll need to be consistently transparent — uncomfortably so — with our customers in terms of the motives and impact around what we do. Concurrently, despite the temptations to make everything digital there will also be no replacement for a personal touch and the knowledge, skills, and discipline around how to build a personal experience at scale is the stuff of measurable competitive advantage.

As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Clark Twiddy of Twiddy & Company along North Carolina’s famous Outer Banks.

Clark is the President of Twiddy & Company, a hospitality and asset management firm along North Carolina’s Outer Banks celebrating almost 45 years in business. He is also fortunate to serve on the boards of private, public, non-profit groups to include acting as the current chair of North Carolina’s Vacation Rental Management Association. A US Navy veteran, he is the proud father of two daughters and always picks the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always believed in service to others as a noble calling and throughout my career have sought opportunities to do just that whether it was a for-profit role, a non-profit role, or through military service. As a firm, our profession is simply superb service to others and when done well it’s an absolutely wonderful place to be in terms of creating real meaning and value for not only our customers but our own staff as well. I am also fortunate that, as a family business, I am able to steward in some small ways the values of my parents.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Our single biggest client for many years was a truly remarkable (and rightfully famous) businessman who told me early in our relationship that the two most important words in our business model were simply listen and trust. He has since passed on, but his clarity around that thought and what I was able to learn from him have influenced me tremendously.

More generally, in our biggest business development pursuits I am convinced that listening to the little things really does make the biggest differences in the long-term. Several of our most valued clients today have come to us through our ability to listen to the seemingly little things in their lives and then reflect that in our thinking.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early on in my career, I got so caught up in an upcoming big client meeting that as I arrived at the office for said meeting, I heard my little girl say from the back seat “Dad, you forgot to drop me off at school.” So much for the big meeting…it wasn’t funny at the time, but the client graciously thought it was funny. What’s the old saying around prior preparation?

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

At the practical level, most of us are in the service profession because we like to make other people happy and as a function of that it’s naturally tough for us to say “no” to things. That said, we know that there are only 168 hours in a week and that by saying “no” to one thing we’re concurrently saying “yes” to another. For example, when we turn down a long large-group lunch presentation we’re saying yes to a one-on-one lunch coaching conversation that can really make a difference.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

All of my failures have been alone and all of my successes have been reflective of a team. Personally, I have been and continue to be blessed with remarkable people in my life from several different perspectives. Early in my career, I was able to learn from quite a few stellar military leaders — I continue to believe that in terms of leadership training the United States military is simply unsurpassed in providing real responsibility at a young age. More recently, I’ve been able to work alongside people who think very differently — but in many cases better — than I do and that’s been a great blessing as it’s helped me to grow as a thinker and problem-solver. Of course, I’m enormously grateful for the sacrifices my parents made along the way and am also keenly aware that I work, across the board, with a group of people who simply won’t let me fail. To them I am profoundly grateful.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

At Twiddy & Company, we continue to focus on four main areas; 1) we’re committed to increasing our capacity to deliver a personal experience for our customers in a channel of their choosing, 2) we’re accelerating our ability to integrate lessons learned from the front-lines of our customer experience, 3) we’re digitally innovating as rapidly as possible by deploying what we think is the right mix of machine-aided transactions and at the same time smart digital systems that warehouse data and customer engagements in the smartest possible way, and 4) we’re also focusing on linking our strategic business thinking to our people thinking on a daily basis — while we won’t thrive without great technology, this was and will always be a people business first.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

At the highest level, I think about our business as a vision built around the interactions between markets, margins, and differentiation. If we make the right resource allocations around those three areas, we’ll be in a position to create value for others competitively. In terms of a pain point, I think we continue to try and enhance the customer experience by being able to provide the right kind of service to them at the time and channel they choose — that could be more professionals to answer the phone, for example, or more chatbots to answer simple questions. It could be better and more integrated data warehousing, for another example, or it could be even more time simply spent alongside our customers. Regardless, we’re hoping that the right combination of all of these types of innovations positions our firm, based on the above markets, margins, and differentiation balance, to create superior customer experiences across and above market cycles.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

The right types of innovations facilitate positive actions from customers, and an enhanced customer experience disrupts the status quo by simply being better. It is our aim that as we seek to provide the right kind of service at the right time, more companies will follow suit to meet customers where they want to be.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

First and foremost, I think the priority for lodging providers is to build and maintain trust as a safe place to visit. To do that, we’ll need to be consistently transparent — uncomfortably so — with our customers in terms of the motives and impact around what we do. Concurrently, despite the temptations to make everything digital there will also be no replacement for a personal touch and the knowledge, skills, and discipline around how to build a personal experience at scale is the stuff of measurable competitive advantage.

Second, we’ll clearly need the right balance between technology — we might reframe that as ease to the consumer — and a personal engagement based on a personalized experience. The only way to do that is to know your customer both as people and as a market.

Third, I think the industry as a whole — and our firm as a specific example — is embracing agility (also known as intentional speed) at a pace we would have barely conceived of only a few short years ago. The ability to move quickly, based on subtle customer signals, is an imperative to create value for others in an age of remarkable uncertainty. I think, clearly, we’ve entered a time in the industry where no longer do the big eat the small; rather, I think the fast now eat the slow in the competitive market.

Fourth, companies will need to adapt to travelers who wish to book early and those who wish to book closer to their travel dates. We have seen how the uncertainty of the last few years has led to last-minute trips, and also contributed to a sudden rise in popularity of certain destinations, causing them to be booked further in advance. Travel and hospitality needs will need to implement systems to effectively manage the needs of both types of travelers.

Lastly, sustainability continues to be at the forefront of many conversations. As we saw destinations previously grappling with the effects of overtourism suddenly devoid of visitors, travelers began to think more carefully about their destinations and environmental impact. Destinations and lodging providers who are able to demonstrate their role in protecting our natural resources for future generations will add that as a differentiating factor.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

At a basic level, to me the supreme travel experience right now is simply two things — it’s 1) intentional in that every aspect of the experience is designed around a specific outcome and impact and 2) it’s based upon a level of personal connection at the destination — there is, in other words, no equal for the focus of compassionate professionals in delivering an experience. That’s it — I think those two things combined are the equivalent of true luxury.

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

We have indeed. We work hard to understand our customers; beyond that, we work hard to think not only about them but like them in the way we share an experience built upon what we think is most valuable to them within their chosen time frames. For instance, we know right now our customers need as many opportunities as possible to de-stress and engage with family in this wonderful natural environment. The more we’re able to focus on experiences like that, the more we’re helping families connect. The more we do that, the more financially sustainable our firm becomes as we maintain trust in that consistency.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We’ve been fortunate over the years to have been a good place for great people to work and in turn those great people have created great experiences for our customers consistently. If we’ve made the right decisions around markets, margins, and differentiation we’ll be able to translate profits to impact in the lives of those who made it all happen. For example, we’ve been able to enrich the lives of our customers and staff in many ways that don’t necessarily appear on a balance sheet and we’re proud of that — from health care partnerships to housing initiatives to educational institution alliances, we’ll continue to make sure that success is shared widely by not only people who contribute to the outcome but to those who are impacted by it. That’s just good business.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Dear Mr. Bezos,

I would love to see Amazon get involved in the vacation business and have some ideas on how, by bringing great personal experiences to e-commerce, we can contribute to a more healthful and intentional society.

If that doesn’t work, I’d offer this —

Perhaps on a more local level, I think the best single movement we could start as a society today would be very simple — show up to vote, on a personal level, and be reasonable. Author Allen Guelzo points out that historically rage has been the poison of a democracy while reason is the great healer. Anything we can do to reduce the rage in our society and increase the reason enhances greatly the future of our children. To me, the best way to reduce rage is to invite your neighbors over for dinner.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m on LinkedIn and our company website, should you wish to know more about us and why we do what we do, is www.twiddy.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 best-selling author, syndicated columnist, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC. He has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been featured on Fox News, The Wrap, and has worked with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Food Network, WW and Bloomberg. Savio has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad. His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. Savio pens a weekly newsletter in which he delves into secrets to living smarter by feeding your “three brains” — head , heart, and gut — in the hope of connecting the dots to those sticky parts of our nature that matter to living our best life.

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor