My Week – James Dunford-Wood

My week started on Sunday, with a suitcase.

It was only after we’d boarded that my dear brother-inlLaw came to the very back of the plane (from the very front – does anyone else have families who continue to sit in different classes??), and surreptitiously pushed a folded luggage ticket into my palm.

“So sorry,” he said sweetly, “but we really need you to take Issy’s case to London”. What, without Issy? My wife went apeshit. Did he realise we had 7 suitcases between 6 (one a sleeping 4 yr old) plus assorted backpacks and cuddly toys?

That we had to struggle to the oddly named ‘Summer Special Parking’ at Gatwick on a crummy transfer bus, while Brother-in-Law’s family get picked up by his driver with hand luggage only?

A compromise was reached. Bro-in-law arranged a second car, to pick up the suitcase! At which point it dawned on my wife that she could bundle her and our kids in alongside it, while I legged it to the Summer Special Parking, alone.

There was another problem. Just before leaving for Barbados (yes, I know, odd place to go during a credit crunch – there’s a story attached, too long to tell it here) the window on our family bus had jammed open, and I’d parked it under shelter in ‘Summer Special Parking’.

Now the captain informs us cheerily it’s minus 5 degrees. Christ! So I drive back with my arse iced to the seat playing Lou Read at top volume.

Needless to say I arrived in the office Monday morning tanned but bleary eyed. Editor Kat was bright and welcoming, and I had a mountain of emails to wade through.

The beach at the Coral Reef Club had been humming with Blackberries, half the CEO’s of the FTSE100 being there, but I had purposely switched mine off. Now is pay-back time.

On Tuesday I made a start on the main task for January. A thorough site-audit of content. I start with beaches.

Why ever did I start there? I am soon looking out at the frozen wastes of W10 while drooling over Whitehaven Beach and Aitutaki. This can’t go on. Time to twitter.

I’m still getting to grips with twitter. There’s a whole new twitetiquette out there, which if you fall foul of can seriously dent your brand. However, as a social and networking tool I sense it’s incredibly powerful.

A big new task for 2009 is to find passionate travel bloggers who write intelligently about niche subjects – like deep sea fishing for example. Within 10 minutes I’ve found two likely candidates on Twitter, and I’m soon arranging for them to blog on World Reviewer.

On Thursday I go to a breakfast meeting with a director of my former company, Travel Intelligence, at Le Pain Quotidien (owned and recently sold by my other brother-in-law – these bloody brother-in-laws.

I have a lot of catching up to do), to discuss the corporate strategy of TI’s VC backer, Saints Capital. Then a bunch of emails fired off to people met on that Barbados beach in their swimming trunks – a hedge funder keen to ‘get into’ online travel (and ‘get out of’ whatever he’s in), a guy who runs a safari company in Patagonia (a perfect World Reviewer expert), and a new newspaper CEO.

Friday is catch-up day, and a long conference call with my brilliant developer, Al James, who is based in Brighton, about all the exciting new things coming on stream in January.

The sales team in Scotland is not happy about our new ad-matching system – change is never easy to implement, least of all with the Scots. After setting up a meeting with Travelzoo for next week, I turn my attention to the most important task of the week – my twins 10th birthday party on Saturday.

Oh to be back on that beach!


James Dunford-Wood is founder and chief executive of Worldreviewer

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