Magazine article Marketing

PROFILE: Setting the Pace - Chris Mottershead, Managing Director, TUI UK

Magazine article Marketing

PROFILE: Setting the Pace - Chris Mottershead, Managing Director, TUI UK

Article excerpt

Chris Mottershead is the man who intends to make the package holiday sexy again. The boss of some of Britain's best-known holiday brands, including Thomson and Lunn Poly, wants to shake off the charter holiday's association with 70s kitsch and stomach bug complaints on Watchdog.

'Some people have been moving away from package holidays, thinking they're getting above all that, or they want something different. But I want to let them know that our product is better than ever and we're providing something modern and inventive,' he says.

The gregarious Welshman has already admitted that the package holiday needs a 'makeover' (Marketing, October 24) and this week put his money where his mouth is by signing up Changing Rooms' Linda Barker and Food and Drink's Jilly Goolden to give Thomson's cruise holidays an 'interiors and wine' overhaul.

'Some people think we're out of date, so we're linking our holidays with other aspects of modern life,' explains Mottershead. 'The sponsorship of Tottenham Hotspur this season was our toe in the water and you will see further associations with football, fashion and even music.'

Underlying this reinvention, is a burning desire to find new ways of expanding TUI UK's business. It's a tough call at a time when the charter market is suffering from fears of international terrorism and the emergence of low-cost airlines. And Mottershead realises the key to growth will be in developing attractive new destinations - 'finding the next Ibiza'.

'When I arrived at this company in January there were no maps in the office - can you believe that?' he asks, sitting underneath a very large map indeed.

He points out that Thomson enjoyed years of dominance with its strength in Spain and other 'safe' destinations. But his former employer Airtours (MyTravel) overtook it as the biggest operator a couple of years back, partly due to the latter's enterprise in developing edgier destinations such as Turkey and Tunisia.

His determination to break into politically sensitive markets is an interesting one given a climate in which holidaymakers are decidedly wary about travelling at all.

Mottershead's confidence in beating the odds stems from an early manufacturing career that pitted him against bolshy Welsh unions and a turbulent 13 years in the travel industry beginning with a spell as finance director of small operator Aspro.

'My arrival at a company specialising in Cyprus coincided with the Gulf War, so I know all about managing a crisis,' he says. Aspro flourished and was eventually snapped up by Airtours.

'Thomson became complacent,' insists Mottershead. …

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