I’m the marketing director for TUI UK with primary responsibility being the direction of the Thomson and First Choice brands.
When did you join Thomson?
I joined in 1991 as a graduate trainee which in some ways feels like eons ago, but at the same time doesn’t seem long ago at all! An awful lot has changed since then!
What was you first role?
My first role was Marketing Assistant in the Thomson Summer Sun team. I was responsible for the main beach summer programme to the Canaries. I had to analyse the Market and sales performance, then put together the right programme of hotels and flights for Thomson. In those days there were lots of different competing product teams all after the best product. We used to argue over whether a hotel should go into Summer Sun, Simply Greece, Small and Friendly etc. as each product was managed by a separate team. Add to that we also had different businesses in Skytours, Portland and Horizon!
What has your career path looked like since?
I cut my teeth on product and product development. After my Summer Sun stint I headed up the very first product development team set up to design and implement what is now known as Thomson Family Resorts (then known as Superfamily). I’ve been involved with most differentiated products over the years including Platinum, Just and Sensatori. I can also claim that I introduced Thomson the Dog!!
The second phase of my career focused on creating and implementing business change. I worked on large scale integration projects, firstly UK focused to deliver synergy benefits by bringing Thomson, Britannia and Lunn Poly closer together, then internationally following the take over by TUI.
The third phase has revolved around marketing communications. After the change programmes I came back into the business to run product development (again) and publishing. Then CRM was added to my remit to lead the development of customer data. The merger of TUI UK with First Choice gave me the chance to head up a new Customer Experience function which gave me great insight into what consumers really want. That then led to me taking on the head of marketing role.
What is your role now?
My role now is marketing director, TUI UK. I have responsibility for leading the brand portfolio strategy which is a terrific opportunity.
Why have you stayed with tourism? And why have you stayed with to TUI?
There’s something about travel that’s hard to let go of. There’s barely a better product to sell – these are dreams and memories, and the most important time of the year. Add to that, the people are fantastic. They are highly committed and real ‘people’ people so work is great fun, social and interactive. I’ve tried imaging in what it may be like to work outside of travel, but I can’t!!!
What has been your most memorable moment?
That’s a real toughie as there have been so many great times at TUI. My first memorable moment was on my very first resort visit. Bearing in mind I’d recently come back from a gap year living out of a rucksack, I walked onto my balcony at the 4T Hotel Atlantis in Tenerife, looking out over the sea, waves crashing, and thinking, “I cant believe I’m being paid to do this!”
What words of wisdom would you pass on about working in the travel industry?
The travel industry is unique. There are so many aspects to it and it is far more complicated than most people make it out to be. Just to give you and example, TUI is at least four types of businesses rolled into one – a tour operator, an airline, a retailer and a cruise line. We are also one of the biggest online players in the UK. And all that is just the UK. Travel is also very dynamic. The industry is in constant change due to low barriers to entry (it’s easy to set up an online travel company these days) and the pressures from the outside world – geopolitical, weather, volcanoes – means you never know what’s going to happen next! It’s an amazing industry selling probably the most desirable products and creating some of the most powerful memories of people’s lives. Why work anywhere else?