As part of our Executive Spotlight series, the Connected Aviation Today team makes a point of gathering perspective from various voices across aviation so we can share a holistic view of what’s happening throughout the industry. To learn more about how the industry as a whole is changing and key trends that are shaping innovation in aviation, we spoke with Michael Taylor, Practice Lead, Travel at J. D. Power, where he helps run the airport, airline, rental car and other travel-related studies.

Here’s what Taylor had to share in his conversation with us:

Connected Aviation Today (CAT) Editors: What does your career path look like? What sparked your interest in aviation and how did you get to where you are today?

Michael Taylor, Practice Lead, Travel at J. D. Power

Michael Taylor: I started my career as a Brand Manager at companies like Alberto-Culver, Ralston Purina and Abbott Laboratories. After that, I worked for a well-known advertising testing firm where one of my clients got a job at J. D. Power. He hired my boss and they, in turn, hired me in 1998. I’ve had a connection to the company ever since; I’ve taken positions elsewhere as well but kept returning to J.D. Power. Upon my hiring, I helped start the Airport Practice. I really enjoy discovering why people buy the things they do or enjoy something more than another. The “why” is what keeps my job interesting.

CAT Editors: What has been a defining moment in your career?

Taylor: I would say that the Airport Practice is something of a defining moment. I’m best known as an “airport guy” and have worked with airports all across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. I find airports fascinating, complex, and challenging entities and it’s just plain fun to understand how an airport becomes “successful.” I tell our clients “a new building doesn’t solve all airport problems.” It helps to have a new building but there are so many other design, process, and people strategies that high-performing airports employ.

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CAT Editors: How do you see the aviation industry evolving in the future?

Taylor: Well, answering this question at the height of the COVID-19 panic is difficult. However, what I tell our clients is “all epidemics end, all of them.” The travel business was doing very well prior to this outbreak. Looking at past events such as this, there is a short-term shock to the system but the industry will reset itself. There are likely to be some adaptions for business travelers (such as more virtual meetings) but the majority of travelers are traveling for leisure. The demand for leisure travel will continue if economic conditions recover. There’s no indication that won’t happen.

The interests of passengers are going to be the “mother of invention” in the travel industry. I often say that travel will shortly look like a movie with Tom Cruise (e.g. Minority Report) or Arnold Schwarzenegger (e.g. Total Recall), where people never stop moving toward their objective (e.g. a gate, a car, an exit) and security, health and safety processes are continuously happening and don’t impede the flow of people.

CAT Editors: For those who are just starting out in the aviation industry, what’s your advice for them?

Taylor: Starting out, I’d advise everyone to think beyond just creating technology and examine why things work with human nature… because working against human nature is lot more difficult.

CAT Editors: What’s one thing we should know about you that we wouldn’t get from your LinkedIn profile or bio?

Taylor: It would probably be just how much my wife and I are into dogs. We have two Bouvier des Flandres and a Maltese. We are deeply involved in rescue societies for both of those breeds. I also love to golf, which is apparent from most of the avatars I use. I’m planning a trip to Scotland for the third time and I hope to be a marshal at the U.S. Open. Those are two definite “leisure” activities I plan to realize shortly!

Chelsea Barone

About Chelsea Barone

Chelsea is an editor for Connected Aviation Today, managing the day-to-day editorial activities. Chelsea writes for other federal government and technology industry publications. Her background lies in B2B and enterprise technology, specifically cloud computing, SaaS, travel IT, and mobile devices.