Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Well Grounded - Tim Williamson Marketing Director, First Choice

Magazine article Marketing

Profile: Well Grounded - Tim Williamson Marketing Director, First Choice

Article excerpt

Tim Williamson has just given up what many would consider their dream job.

Before being appointed marketing director at First Choice at the start of this year he was product director of the holiday company - a job that gave him free rein to travel the world appraising the company's resorts and hotels.

Although his favourite exotic location is India, he is not worried about spending more time at the company headquarters in Crawley, as his holiday of choice is good old-fashioned camping. He also prefers to avoid travelling with competitors. 'It's difficult to relax when you are surveying the competition, which is why I prefer back-to-basics holidays,' he says.

A natural adventurer, he grew up between South Africa and St Albans, and has always been an outdoor person. 'It's a dream job to be marketing director of a travel company. I couldn't see myself getting excited about marketing dishwashers or toilet rolls,' he says.

Williamson did not begin his career in travel - an interest in wine led him to wine chain Oddbins, where he became a branch manager.

After a couple of years, he got the travel bug and took a year out; on his return to the UK, he joined ski tours company Skibound. When First Choice acquired the company, he quickly moved into the marketing side of the business.

Williamson, who is 36 and lives in Brighton with his wife and young children, was appointed marketing director of First Choice's mainstream sector, which includes 90% of all its holidays, in January this year, with a brief to bolster the company's strategy. 'Before the shake-up, marketing was very siloed - with separate departments for each function,' he says. 'My role is to bring them all together.'

He is unfazed by the growth of online rivals such as Expedia, and sees the web as an opportunity rather than a threat. 'The web means people can get more information about destinations at the touch of a button, which makes them more willing to try new holiday ideas.'

Williamson is aiming to deliver integrated marketing that will include promoting the web. 'Our customers don't use just a single channel and neither do we,' he explains. 'Some phone us, some come to our shops or use the web, and others do a combination of all three. …

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