Magazine article Marketing

Truth or Dare

Magazine article Marketing

Truth or Dare

Article excerpt

Richard Bowden-Doyle is a happy man. Thomson's decision to 'Tell it like it is' has hit home with the punters, securing the tour operator a market-leading 30% of the million and a half sales on summer 1997 holidays sold so far.

This novel marketing strategy saw Thomson benefit from a blaze of publicity around the concept of a tour operator being honest about the holidays it sells.

Earlier this month, Bowden-Doyle also reaped his personal reward, in the form of a promotion from marketing director to deputy managing director. His new post includes management of the core beach holiday products in Thomson's portfolio and a seat on the Thomson board. It establishes the fresh-faced 36-year-old as one of the travel industry's rising stars.

Bowden-Doyle, who cut his marketing teeth at Cadbury, admits to now being addicted to the highly competitive environment in the travel industry.

"I couldn't go back to FMCG after this," he says, "the pace and the aggressive nature of the competition is part of the buzz."

Especially as Bowden-Doyle still has one more competitive weapon up his sleeve, in which the truth might hurt the opposition.

As a result of Thomson's decision to publish the results of its customer survey, Bowden-Doyle has some sizzling information on some hotels which Thomson recently dropped from its brochure, but which are still used by the competition.

These were hotels that just didn't make the grade and received some very poor responses from holiday-makers. "Were we to make that information available it would be competitively very powerful," he says, "but we're still working through the implications."

If the company decides not to go ahead, you sense it will not be Bowden-Doyle who has lost his nerve.

"When Richard fixes his eyes on the prize, he doesn't get deflected from it," says Andrew Robertson, managing director of Abbott Mead Vickers, who has worked with him in the past. "It makes him good fun to work with."

His nerve has already been tested this year. Thomson's main rivals Airtours and First Choice surprised the industry with their decision to launch their summer 1997 brochures in July. Thomson, which had planned its launch for August 1, surprisingly chose not to follow suit.

"We stuck to our guns," says Bowden-Doyle. …

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