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Spotlight on Haiyang Liu: Benefits of a Travel Industry Career
January 10, 2023
By Gus Torrey
Categories Life at Spotnana
Haiyang Liu is an Engineering Manager at Spotnana focused on backend engineering. Recently he’s been focusing on our Agent Desktop, the suite of tools we provide to travel agents to enable them to provide efficient, personalized service to travelers.
Spotnana’s Travel-as-a-Service Platform makes an unprecedented amount of data available to travel agents, and Haiyang’s work is essential for automating manual processes, simplifying agent workflows, and giving managers visibility into task completion, agent efficiency, and how different agent skill sets are deployed.
Strong leadership supporting travel industry success
A graduate of Rice University, Haiyang developed his career at large companies like Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Lyft. More recently he’s worked at startups, and he has always had an eye on which startups were growing quickly and developing groundbreaking technology. The promise and people of Spotnana led him to explore a new industry.
“This is my first experience in the travel industry, and a year ago, I was building my own startup focused on fintech,” said Haiyang. “Although it didn’t work out, I wanted to lend my skills to a promising startup. That’s when I came across Spotnana, Product Manager Sebastien Goddijn, and CTO Shikhar Agarwal.”
From the beginning, Spotnana colleagues helped Haiyang develop his knowledge of the travel industry. Many took the time to explore industry history with him, even going so far back as how travel bookings were managed when computers did not exist.
“Sebastien took the time to walk me through the challenges and inefficient elements of the industry and how we are going to address them,” said Haiyang.
Haiyang brought a new perspective on the travel industry to conversations with CTO Shikhar Agarwal, whose passion and plans for the future of travel helped him understand the scale of the opportunity at Spotnana, and the strength of the technology foundation that Spotnana had put in place.
“Shikhar is always thinking of the big picture and what our goals are ten years from now,” said Haiyang. “Maybe we don’t achieve the loftier goals today, but once we do, I know it will have a significant impact.”
The impact of gathering together at Converge
While Haiyang learned quickly in a hybrid work environment, he found that Spotnana’s in-person gatherings greatly enhanced his knowledge of the travel industry. At Converge, Spotnana’s global offsite, Haiyang connected with colleagues, industry experts, and travel agents.
“Converge put me in the same room with folks I only knew from Google Meet and Zoom,” said Haiyang. “This strengthened my relationships with India colleagues who onboarded me, and allowed me to form deeper connections with those who partnered with me on the agent desktop project.”
Converge also gave Haiyang the opportunity to learn from Spotnana senior leaders who have decades of industry experience.
“Hearing from travel industry experts, especially Spotnana Chairman Steve Singh, was very motivating,” said Haiyang. “For someone who is new to travel, it was inspiring to hear Steve illustrate the big picture of the challenges ahead and the sizable opportunities in front of us at a generational company like Spotnana.”
For Haiyang, perhaps the best part of Converge was witnessing the impact of his work and measuring how much time his tool saves Spotnana agents.
“One experience that was very special to me was working with the agents in person,” said Haiyang. “During Converge, stations were set up in the hotel so our agents could continue to support our customers. I had the chance to sit with the agents and observe what they are working on, how they address customer requests, and how they use the tool that I built.”
A platform for future innovation
Haiyang’s time at Spotnana has sparked his curiosity of what the future holds for both the travel industry and his career. Driving Spotnana’s technical growth and working daily with a robust Engineering team, Haiyang enjoys the opportunities his role provides.
“I’m always weighing my desire to start my own company and my desire to take on a leadership role at a startup,” said Haiyang. “I find that Spotnana empowers me to satisfy both desires. I love working with a large group of people across the organization, and I love creating things from the ground up and seeing them grow.”
Haiyang sees long-term success in what Spotnana is building, and wants to continue innovating with Spotnana throughout his career.
“Spotnana is building a Travel-as-a-Service Platform that enables future travel innovation to layer on top of it,” said Haiyang. “One day, maybe I’ll start a company and build on top of what we are building at Spotnana.”