I've been at Holiday Extras for 25 years but feel like I've had 10 different careers! An amazing journey and opportunity to reinvent the business and myself many times - to learn, work hard and have fun along the way. Covid has been a challenge like no other for travel but we all emerge stronger and more experienced for it, both professionally and personally!
The entrepreneurial spirit captured my imagination from the start. Joining in 1996 as the first ever 'graduate trainee', a close knit team of 30 plus a small telephone based res centre. We used faxes, ViewData, printed an annual travel agent brochure! Then the internet happened and we positioned ourselves as early adopters, we still try to keep that front footed approach on a day to day basis.
My training plan was hands on to say the least - this led to senior roles in creating new products and leading the commercial team, operational troubleshooting, contact centre management, leading to a New Business Director role where I was given the backing to launch our Shortbreaks business in 2004. In 2005, I was part of the original MBO team.
Shortbreaks is now a thriving division with a dedicated team and office, we have an MD in place and it's a key part of the Holiday Extras Group and strategy. To create an entity from scratch was a real career highlight. It's also a great privilege to partner closely with some of the largest theme parks and attractions in the UK.
The Shortbreaks team moved into Apple Barn, with Gerry, Carol and Matthew Pack (June, 2015).
In 2014, I stepped up to the Group Board and in 2015 took on the role of Deputy Group CEO working alongside Matthew Pack on the wider Group mission of making travel easy, less hassle and more fun. I thrive on variety, the chance to devise and deliver strategy, to lead on key acquisitions, to further build the product portfolio and to drive the ongoing transformation to a tech and customer focused business. Being on the Group board was another fast track learning opportunity working with the Pack family and our experienced team of NEDS.
The rest of my family were either in the building trade or the army, I considered both seriously including a tough year working on the building site in the family firm. I also flirted with the idea of a career in fitness and gained my qualifications in Personal Training and Fitness Instruction in Australia.
A degree in Geography from the University of London inspired the idea of working in travel, where I initially returned to Folkestone and joined SAGA Holidays. From there I heard of this small up and coming business called Holiday Extras, the moment I walked through the door and knew it was the place for me!
I never take for granted how lucky I am to live just a few minutes from the office, living close to Hythe beach we can hear the sea from the garden - perfect after a busy day at the office. The house was a bit of a wreck so it's been a renovation mission but rewarding at the same time.
In the garden we installed a wood fired pizza oven, which makes for makes for great social occasions.
Married to the very energetic Louise who is a fitness instructor teaching classes locally and even a Bootcamp right on Hythe beach!
We have two teenage daughters. They keep us busy with with the taxi service to gymnastics, ballet, street dance, piano lessons, cross country running and time with friends. They are definitely my pride and joy!
Breakfast in Sydney, (Dec, 2017).
I like to keep fit especially outside these days, anything to do with the sea, open water swimming, surfing, standup paddleboarding. I motivated myself through 2020 by taking on a Cross Channel relay swim and this year I am swimming from Jersey to France!
A sunset paddle in Hythe, (August, 2017).
I like to experiment with photography......very occasionally I manage to capture a really special family moment - this is a favourite from a few years ago!
We love to travel as a family and can't wait to get back on a plane again!
Manly Beach, Sydney (Dec, 2017).
Rafting on the Ragitata River, South Island New Zealand
I'm a Governor at a primary school, which despite the challenge of finding the time, is incredibly rewarding to be able to help local children maximise their education and potential.
The mission continues to excite me, the challenge in a recovering travel industry is significant but our higher purpose endures to deliver customers with ... less hassle, more holiday ... a powerful "call to arms" and I look forward to galvanising the full business behind this and coming back even better
I love working with the HX team, we continue to have the freedom to create our own destiny, plus a few good parties now and then!
An HX party... Circus theme (Sep, 2017).
Whatever happens I know it's going to be a thrilling ride!
Less hassle, more holidays.... oh yes!