Who pulls the digital strings in the tour operators, airlines, hotels, online travel agencies and search engines in the UK – the movers and shakers of the UK online travel industry are all here.
Andrew Botterill, chief executive, Global Travel Group
In addition to his Global duties, Andrew has also been instrumental in the formation and strategy of the Triton Group of about 2,000 agencies. He has forged ahead with the development and implementation of dynamic packaging system, Triton Search, with more than three-quarters of members signed up to use it.
Kenny Boyle, director of commercial and marketing services, VisitBritain
Kenny is responsible for keeping Britain competitive both online and offline, as well as ensuring the industry can gain visibility in front of customers. His team has already produced the EnglandNet project, an online shop and white-label solutions as well as the recent deals with CarTrawler and Google.
Hugo Burge, vice-chairman and head of international, Cheapflights
Hugo is frighteningly intelligent and has a hand in many pies. His day job is with Cheapflights but he still backs online start-ups such as WAYN and Trustedplaces and has set up his own travel social networking site Hereorthere.com.
Carl Burrows, commercial director, Medhotels
As head of one of the original bedbanks, Carl Burrows must strive to keep the service competitive. He took the decision to make it trade-only a year ago and then adopted principal status earlier this year. The accommodation supplier has just reported strong advance bookings for next summer.
Marc Charron, European managing director, TripAdvisor
The importance of social media is now undisputable and TripAdvisor is always at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Since taking over the European reins Marc has penned deals with Thomson Holidays and Hayes and Jarvis in the UK. In his spare time he’s also responsible for the roll out of local language sites for TripAdvisor across Europe.
Matt Cheevers, managing director, Teletext Holidays
Matt is not one to sit still for long and has already taken Teletext Holidays through a rebrand, introduced upmarket long-haul service Inluxury, and launched UK domestic holidays content on to Teletext. He has also championed a cause or two, including tackling advertisers on misleading prices.
Martin Cowley, senior vice-president, EMEA, Sabre Travel Group
Martin has just assumed the helm at Sabre, with responsibility for 300 employees. He is charged with building on Sabre’s presence in the region, has led the launch of Sabre Rail Platform and been instrumental in launch of the Moneydirect payment scheme with Amadeus.
Adrian Currie, corporate development director and chief financial officer, Booking.com
Adrian has been with the company every step of the way and has seen it expand to 14.6 million room nights annually. He played a strategic role in the sale of Active Hotels to Priceline, the acquisition of Bookings BV and the rebranding last year to Booking.com.
Tim Davis, senior vice-president for commercial development and information systems, Hilton Corporation
Tim has a massive role taking care of all the technology and commercial development outside the US. The position includes the technology requirements for properties in 70 countries taking legal and language into account.
Graham Donoghue, new media director, TUI Travel
The daddy of tour operating online, Graham sees it, wants it and is not afraid to put it on the website. He has just landed himself the top tech job at TUI Travel (TUI holidays division/First Choice merger). Fingers crossed he continues to get those sexy online projects past the board.
Stephane Durand, UK and Ireland Managing Director, Amadeus
Stephane is an excellent mouthpiece for Amadeus, keeping the company at the forefront of the news. However, more than that he has managed to reposition Amadeus in the UK from being thought of as just a GDS to being more of a wider IT solutions provider.
Steve Endacott, chief executive, On Holiday Group
Steve loves to be known as a serial entrepreneur and if the cap fits… He is larger than life, brilliant at profile building and with years of tour operating experience has an uncanny knack of spotting gaps in the market.
Paul Evans, chief executive, LowCost Group
Paul is empire building. According to press reports, he already has hundreds of ‘lowcost’ domain names and believes the Lowcosttravel brand is established as he is looking at international expansion across Europe, as well as beyond travel at the financial services sector.
Richard Firminger, regional sales director, Northern Europe, Yahoo! Search Marketing
Search, both natural and PPC, is where it’s at so there’s no doubting Richard’s position of power. As the industry grapples with the rising cost of search and how best to employ digital marketing Richard will continue to extol the virtues of Yahoo!’s new search platform.
Terry Fisher, managing director, Gold Medal Travel Group
Terry Fisher brings experience in both the travel retail and tour operating sectors to the role. He manages both Gold Medal Travel, its trade website with 500,000 unique visitors every month, and direct sale website, Airline Network, attracting around 2.5 million unique visitors a month.
Robin Frewer, head of travel UK, Google
Robin steps into the large shoes of Esteban Walther but brings his Opodo credentials with him. He will be under pressure to continue to persuade the industry of the value of paid search as costs continue to rise and newer forms of digital marketing come to the fore.
Tim Frankcom, general manager, Europe, Yahoo! Travel
Tim runs one of Europe’s largest travel websites. He recent implemented the Yahoo! Trip Planner site, providing shareware including photos, reviews, forum, maps and ratings in one cohesive application for travel. The technology enables travellers to collate all the information in one place, then check Yahoo! Travel for deals, and finally book through travel advertisers.
Paul Furner, managing director, Travel Republic
With no external investment Paul appears to have done what others can only dream of. The site recently took third place on the Hitwise online travel agency category and beat established high-street brands to make it on to the IMRG-Hitwise Hot Shops list. The company is on track for £200 million sales for the current financial year.
Russell Gould, director of e-commerce, Thomas Cook UK and Ireland
Young and clearly ambitious Russell has just landed the top online job for the merged Thomas Cook/MyTravel businesses. Unlike some, he appears to avoid the spotlight and quietly introduces new functionality to the site.
Stelios Haji-Ioannou, chairman, EasyGroup
More than just a great press and PR man, Stelios has come up with some pioneering ideas for a series of travel brands, bringing value to the consumer. Most recently was EasyJet Holidays, which in the company’s own provocative words would “confine the traditional package holiday to the dustbin of history”.
Dermot Halpin, president EMEA, Expedia
Another bright Irishman in the Expedia camp, Dermot has risen quickly through the ranks to take the helm. He keeps his head down, doesn’t seem interested in profile building and controls the UK’s number one online travel agency.
Alan Josephs, managing director, Ebookers
Alan has brought Ebookers back into the game with a new identity and new technology platform. The brand, a force to be reckoned with again, had all but been forgotten following the Cendant acquisition. Now, it is back from obscurity supported by a marketing campaign and new developments such as the addition of package holidays.
Andrew Laurie, managing director, UK Stella Travel Services Group
This is one to watch in terms of volume and distribution. Andrew is managing a portfolio of travel agencies and the Travel 2/4 business. However, S8, the Australia-based parent company has a business encompassing more than 2,000 travel agencies and 14,000 apartments.
Chris Loughlin, executive vice-president Europe, Travelzoo
Chris has brought Travelzoo from nowhere to 785,000 UK subscribers in a short time and in a very competitive market. He has steadily built the UK and European presence, on a skeleton staff initially, with launches in Germany and more recently in France.
Ian McCaig, chief executive, Lastminute.com
Ian’s strength would appear to lie in crowd control, not so much people but number of unruly brands. He has taken Lastminute.com and its rapid succession of acquisitions and formed it into a more cohesive animal. In all this he hasn’t lost sight of differentiation and the customer experience.
Daniele Mancini, e-business director, Costa Cruises
Daniele is a rogue entry – admired for what he has done for Costa Cruises for both the trade and consumer-facing websites. Avoiding any potential barriers of being owned by the Carnival Group, Costa has launched online booking for agents and embraced the Web 2.0 trend through participation in Second Life.
Ignacio Martos, chief executive, Opodo
Ignacio got his feet under the table quickly and there are plans afoot for further European expansion next year, as well as new services such as mobile and user reviews. The company seems in better shape than ever since he has managed to substantially reduce the headcount in the name of efficiency.
Nick Mercer, commercial director, Eurostar
Nick’s position covers sales and marketing with responsibility for all of Eurostar’s markets. His role is crucial at a time when travellers are beginning to see the high-speed train as a serious alternative to flying.
Richard Mintern, group chief information officer, The Monarch Travel Group
Richard has a mega role maximising the distribution potential of the airline, Cosmos, Archers Direct and Avro. Richard’s team is working on the launch of an enhanced Somewhere2stay site. The work includes an improved XML interface for agents who want to use Somewhere2stay’s inventory.
Stuart Nassos, UK and Ireland managing director, Holiday Autos
Being swallowed whole by Lastminute.com and then Sabre is enough to kill off any brand’s identity but Stuart has managed to maintain that of Holiday Autos. The service is still exciting, innovative and popular with the trade.
Graham Nichols, vice-president and general manager, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa, Worldspan
Graham knows the GDS business inside out and has a pretty sound corporate background too. The industry awaits an announcement regarding where Graham might fit into the newly merged Galileo/Worldspan team but the industry feels he will be a valuable asset.
Chris Nixon, managing director, Travelsupermarket
Leading the travel comparison site since its launch, Chris, alongside his brother Simon, recently took it to a listing on the London Stock Exchange as part of parent, Moneysupermarket.com. The listing, valuing the company at £843 million, was said to be the biggest market opening to the public since Lastminute’s flotation in 2000.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive, Ryanair
You’ve got to admire the sheer nerve of this Irishman. If he can make his passengers pay for it he will – and hang the consequences. Of course, it’s all in the name of driving bookings online – and those profit figures are enviable.
Stephen Palmer, chief executive, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Lonely Planet
Stephen is responsible for online, publishing, sales and marketing for the region. He has been strategic in the introduction of developments such as the digital guides for the Sony PSP and the use of social media tools. BBC Worldwide’s acquisition of a 75% stake will enable him to tap into the broadcasting company’s Internet expertise.
Guy Parsons, chief operating officer, Travelodge
Guy is in charge of maintaining the 85% of Travelodge bookings that already go through the website – and driving the figure up further. He firmly believes there is further room for online growth by providing customers with additional services, such as a dynamic packaging facility.
Celia Pronto, marketing director, STA Travel
Celia has vast experience in online marketing and since joining STA has ensured the website continues to appeal to its young audience through the early adoption of social media such as Second Life and Facebook. She has also introduced podcasts and travel widgets. Her latest projects have included a tie-up with youth mobile company, Blyk.
Moshe Rafiah, chief executive, Travelfusion
Moshe has developed travel search and trip-planning technology, including a white-label meta-search service. All the developments are based on modern XML and Web 2.0 technology. The goal is to be the leading travel engine and content provider.
David Roche, senior vice-president EMEA, Expedia
A bright Irishman in the Expedia camp, with a brain full of ideas and long words. He is an efficient operator, has done masses to improve the user experience on Hotels.com and also secured high-profile deals to provide accommodation for giants such as Ryanair.com.
Chris Roe, general manager, e-commerce, Virgin Holidays
Since getting his feet in the door, ex-Opodo man Chris has already completed an overhaul of the Virgin Holidays website. The site is now more customer focused as opposed to being simply brochureware. He also has also improved the overall user experience and plans to begin targeting specific groups of customers.
Alistair Rowland, director of distribution, Co-Operative Travel
Alistair Rowland has responsibility for development for the organisation’s online activity, which plays an important role supporting other distribution channels such as its call-centres, homeworking, business travel and affiliate partner businesses. This means hundreds of websites because of all the sub-brands within the organisation.
Alex Saint, managing director, Dealchecker
Alex heads up a lively travel price-comparison site, combining much of the usual content with features such as traveller reviews and pictures. The company experienced a massive surge in traffic in July, 102% up year-on-year to just under 400,000 visitors.
David Soskin, chief executive, Cheapflights
David is the ‘godfather’ of online travel. He nurtures it and defends it at every occasion and is a powerful voice for the industry. He also has respect in the financial community and vision, which is demonstrated in the launch of Howzat Media – the specialist Internet investment fund.
Andy Tidy, e-commerce director, Thomas Cook
While Russell Gould takes the high profile job at Thomas Cook, Andy is behind the scenes working on the enviable task of the new platform and systems integration. It’s a massive task and business critical, so that, in our eyes, makes Andy a VIP (veritable Internet power).
Greg Turley, co-founder and chief executive, CarTrawler
The importance of ancillary sales and car-hire in particular, secure Greg’s position in the power 50. The global car-rental distribution system is targeting airlines with its platform believing that 50% of all car hire will be booked through airline websites in the future. The company has just signed a distribution deal with VisitBritain.
Peter Ward/Jerome Touze, co-founders, WAYN.com
The dynamic duo have managed to successfully combine two of life’s passions – travel and dating – to create WAYN.com. They have made the industry sit up and listen to the phenomenon that is social media and got the ears of high-profile players such as Brent Hoberman, David Soskin and even traditional players such as Thomas Cook.
Adrian Watts, sales and distribution director, TheTrainline
Adrian heads up what is arguably the UK’s leading train retailer and has already penned deals to provide content from the service to distribution giant Galileo. He is also responsible for continuing to sell the system into the corporate market and international expansion.
Alison Wightman, head of marketing and systems, Virgin Atlantic
Alison is responsible for the e-commerce and database marketing teams at Virgin Atlantic. She has more than 10 years’ experience in the online arena and has always had a passion for improving the online customer experience by creating a strategy around analytics and usability studies..
Carsten Willert, head of BA.com, British Airways
Carsten is the brains behind the airline’s online presence and responsible for ideas such as using Google for seat promotions. He continues to take the site from being bog standard to providing a good user experience, which drives conversion.
Gareth Williams, chief executive, Skyscanner
Gareth can be credited with setting up a well-respected site from scratch with pioneering technology. He has kept it clean and simple and it does what it says on the tin. There are further announcements in the pipeline, such as the introduction of worldwide commercial flights.
Gordon Wilson, chief executive and president, Galileo/Worldspan
Just the title alone denotes a big role – Galileo has always talked about being a content warehouse, while Worldspan’s strengths lay in e-commerce technology. The combined companies, well-managed, could have a fairly compelling offering.
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