Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Travelling Salesman - Andrew Rayner, Head of Marketing, Thomson

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Travelling Salesman - Andrew Rayner, Head of Marketing, Thomson

Article excerpt

Andrew Rayner has broad horizons. An adventurous traveller, he prefers visiting places off the beaten track. As head of marketing at Thomson, the UK's biggest holiday company, he is well-placed to spread this spirit of adventure to consumers.

With his mild manner and charm, Rayner is a popular figure in the travel industry. He has spent more than five years at the Thomson group, joining the now-defunct Lunn Poly brand as advertising manager in 2001 before being promoted to head of advertising and sponsorship in 2002, then stepping up to head of marketing last year.

Rayner, who lives in North London and is soon to become a father for the first time, embraced travel young, going around the world in a gap year. His first job, in student recruitment, also took him overseas, with a spell in Singapore. He got his first taste of advertising as an account director at Riley Advertising in Birmingham, where he worked with clients including the University of Bath.

Regarded as a good strategic thinker by colleagues, Rayner is close to finishing his MBA at Warwick University, where he previously studied for his BA in film and literature. Still a movie addict, he prefers arthouse films - Fernando Meirelles' City Of God is his favourite.

Joining Thomson was an obvious choice for Rayner. 'It's a huge operation that combines the fast-moving world of retail with the service sector,' he enthuses. He is credited with having a firm understanding of Thomson's brand and a genuine interest in consumer choices.

Simon Woolfe, strategic insight manager at the travel company, says that this 'obsession with understanding the consumer' underpins all Rayner's marketing activity. He has a habit of quizzing people he meets about who they booked their last holiday with and whether they had a good time.

With more people opting to book their own tailor-made holidays online, Rayner is realistic about the challenges facing Thomson. 'We need to show that we are not just about package holidays; we offer a range of products, from flight-only to customised tours,' he says.

The past year has seen big changes at the company, including the completion of a major restructure and the move of its head office to Luton from North London. …

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