Tour operators

Audley Travel names former Tui boss as successor to chief exec Ian Simkins

Posted by Lee Hayhurst on
Audley Travel names former Tui boss as successor to chief exec Ian Simkins

Successful UK online tour operator Audley Travel has appointed a former Tui UK managing director as its new chief executive.

Nick Longman will officially succeed Ian Simkins in January after joining the company next week as chief operating operator. Simkins will become a non-executive director having run the company for the last seven years.

Audley, which is owned by private equity firm 3i, specialises in tailor made travel and grew 16% to £242 million in revenue last year, and is already up 26% to date in 2018, according to its full year financial results to December 21, 2017.

Longman, who left Tui earlier this year after two decades with the company, said he intended to grow Audley in the UK, the US and Germany as well as in Australasia and Asia with an office in Hong Kong or Singapore.

Longman told Travolution sister site Travel Weekly: “Audley doesn’t have a very high consumer profile, so that’s something I want to look at.”

He added: “It is a gem of a company I am joining. When I decided to leave Tui, I was conscious I didn’t want to just join another mainstream company.

“I’ve worked at First Choice and then Tui since 1998 so I was never going to join a Thomas Cook or a Jet2. Same with EasyJet.

“I wanted to work in a different part of the industry. Somewhere that’s a bit more entrepreneurial where the speed of making a decision and something happening is really quick. That really appealed.

“The perception is that Audley is all about high-end. It’s actually all about tailor made and about service. We will book anything for you, whatever it is you want, and add unique elements into your trips.

“From a sector perspective, the over 50s sector is growing and is really robust, compared to the mainstream sector which after the hot summer will have had a tough lates.”

Commenting on owners 3i, which bought into Audley three years ago, Longman confirmed he had “committed to this phase [of ownership] and the next phase”.

Simkins said: “I am delighted to welcome Nick to Audley Travel and to hand over what I feel is the best role in travel.

“I’m really proud of what the team and I have achieved since 2012, growing bookings five-fold, opening up new offices in Boston and London, increasing our quality scores whilst creating more and more unique travel experiences for our clients. It’s great to have Nick on board to build further on this success”

Richard Prosser, Audley chairman, with whom Nick worked while he was with First Choice in Canada, said: “I am extremely pleased that Nick Longman is joining us as our new future CEO.

“His depth and breadth of experience, allied to his strong business acumen and ability to attract customers and build relationships between them and a brand, means that he is the ideal person to build on what we have achieved at Audley Travel and to continue to build on our success.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ian Simkins for his immense contribution to Audley Travel over the last seven years and I look forward to working with him in a different capacity moving forward.”

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