Dr Kyle Flanigan On The Future Of Travel In The Post COVID World
An Interview with Savio P. Clemente
Cancellation policies will be considered more deeply by consumers and companies that offer more favorable cancellation terms to garner greater popularity.
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kyle Flanigan.
With more than 20 years of experience, Dr. Kyle Flanigan is an expert in development of performance materials. He is leading a team to bring an oral COVID-19 vaccine to market — one that will be easier to use, longer lasting and with less side effects.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Along with my colleague and co-founder Dr. Garry Morefield, we were gearing up for a strep vaccine when COVID-19 struck. We pivoted to focus on COVID as the need was dire, the technology was seven years down the line and in the late stages of development. The manufacturing capability was already in place, and it was a natural fit to move forward to a human clinical study. US Specialty Formulations LLC (USSF) technology is perfect for respiratory and enteric infection prevention, thus can be adopted to a wide range of target viruses e.g., COVID, flu, RSV, Chikungunya and Nipah, but this list is not exhaustive.
I love to build things, I always have, mentally and physically. This career, as a CEO of a start-up for a manufacturing and vaccine development company, fits so well as it encompasses many forms of building. Building teams, building a vaccine, building a business and building an infrastructure. The problem solving is the challenge that motivates me — I do not ask myself “can I,” but rather, “how do I?”
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
When on a holiday in Jamaica with my daughter’s gymnastic team, we were sitting in a hotel lounge, and a complete stranger commented on a vaccine story on the news, saying that it would be great if someone made a vaccine that you could drink and ‘just be done with it.’ There was silence. And as if in slow motion, our party all simultaneously looked at me as if to ask, what is in your bag? And my brain instantly began ‘building.’
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?
About seven years ago, we had a large customer insist on making a certain product. In lieu of payment, we purchased all the materials, then the customer changed their mind. Luckily, we were able to adjust the order. The customer changed their mind again. This time we weren’t so lucky and were stuck with 10,000 units of unusable materials. Within a few weeks, a second customer, needed the exact product that was sitting in our warehouse, seemingly unsellable and a sunken cost, which was sizeable for a small company. The lesson I learned — ask more questions until I am clear that the customer knows what they need as opposed to what they want (large or small). Often the customer’s needs are different from what they truly want and can finance.
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?
- Go to that gymnastics event with your daughter.
- Take time out to take care of yourself — as there is always more work to do.
- If you have business partners, you must trust them implicitly.
- Surrounding yourself with a strong team is essential for growth and to thrive.
- With the right people, mistakes are okay — the response to the mistake and the learning is what is important.
We had a long-standing customer who visited on a project, during a very stressful time and he said that it looked like we were not taking enough time for ourselves. He suggested that we have an internal understanding, where every few weeks we encourage each other to take a few days off.
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?
My wife. My business partner. Both have provided the rich environment for me to thrive and focus my energies and strengths where they are best placed — both at home and at work. Being part of USSF is the story of how we help each other shine and have the freedom to grow.
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?
A modern oral vaccine platform is game-changing for travel and hospitality. Our vision is for this to be approved for over-the-counter distribution. Thus, enabling travelers to safely visit fun and interesting places without fear of contracting illness, getting stuck and incurring large medical costs and additional expenses.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
- A non-invasive delivery method, as an oral vaccine does not require needles.
- Ease of use.
- The US Specialty Formulations LLC (USSF) COV2-OGEN1 oral vaccine is stable to very high temperatures and does not need the same cold-chain logistics and storage requirements as other vaccines that are currently on the market.
- An oral vaccine does not require a health care practitioner to administer, meaning you could have it on you to self-administer.
- Each country is worried about different strains at different times, our vaccine clinical studies show that it provides protection across multiple strains — making travel simpler, much simpler.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
It is an oral vaccine that meets people’s lifestyles. In addition, if needed, it makes periodic boosters less onerous.
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?
- The hospitality industry will place significant resources towards creatively accommodating guests that need to be quarantined.
- Cancellation policies will be considered more deeply by consumers and companies that offer more favorable cancellation terms to garner greater popularity.
- Traveling with minimal luggage will be rewarded with maximum flexibility to take advantage of availability on airlines, accommodations and experiences.
- Small group travel will become more sought after, from transit to tailored experiences.
- The appeal, demand and justification for using private aviation may increase.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
My perfect vacation experience begins with me fully vaccinated with the USSF vaccine which means I can travel anywhere in the world and feel safe that I am protected against multiple strains of COVID and/or flu. The journey ends with me feeling rejuvenated and energetic.
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.
With this lifestyle vaccine you can travel, interact and live in our beautiful and dirty world, fearlessly.
Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?
USSF oral platform is not limited to COVID, as we can apply this technology to the flu and other respiratory diseases, increasing survivability rates globally. This is a great contribution to the world from USSF.
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. :-)
My movement would build automatous units that could be deployed in unserved and inhospitable regions. These units would then deploy drones (drone-drop) to deliver vaccines and medicine. USSF personnel would have the capabilities to man them onsite or remotely.
How can our readers follow you on social media
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!