In 1984 Frankie Goes to Hollywood dominated the charts, Footloose hit the big screen and Peter Long took his first job in travel.
It’s questionable whether the others have stood the test of time but Long’s stint in the same industry is pretty incredible given that he has effectively spent 17 years in charge of the same company.
It was not, however, something he planned. In an exclusive interview with the industry giant this week, Long admitted he initially gave himself a 10-year limit.
You would imagine he’d have had his pick of the top jobs given his success, but something made him stay. Holidays, he told me, were something that everybody could relate to and crucially, he said, travel remained a fun industry in which to work.
There have, of course been challenges though. The onslaught of the internet and the rise in low-cost airlines saw the big four shrink to two, and more recently, terror attacks have rocked the industry, including the devastating deaths of 30 Tui customers in Tunisia in July.
But it was how Long dealt with each of these challenges – and tragedies – that set him apart from his counterparts. He foresaw the democratising effect of the internet and the need for tour operators to develop their own unique product in order to thrive.
Although no other travel leader from the early 2000s can match Long for longevity, and despite his many plaudits from the City, it was the other elements of his character that people often mentioned.
His personal involvement with the TTG 30 Under 30 initiative through partnership with Tui was typical of his approach, and despite being head of Europe’s biggest tour operator, he still made time to speak to all the young travel executives who attended each of the dinners.
If the next generation of leaders have been able to glean anything from Long, the travel industry will be in good hands.
Deputy news editor, TTG