Peter Long stressed the benefits of work-life balance in a keynote speech at TTG’s Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders conference
Speaking on Tuesday to 100 young travel leaders who gathered in London for the first TTG Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders Conference, Peter Long advised delegates to remain unique in the industry.
“Just because people have done it this way before, [you should] challenge the status quo,” he said. “You don’t need to copy. Over the years we [Tui Travel] have changed our model.”
Long used the example of UK supermarkets’ failure to keep up with the ambitions of cheaper foreign competitors such as Aldi and Lidl to illustrate his argument.
“Supermarkets have missed the point,” he said. “They invited discounters into the market place and once they are in that position its difficult to do something about it.”
Meanwhile Long also urged delegates to keep their working and personal lives balanced. “Don’t get obsessed by business. Have a good life with your friends, your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife,” he said.
He also argued that having a personal life gives you perspective: “Take the time to relax and do hobbies. It makes you a more interesting and fulfilled person.”
He added that last week he had blocked out his diary to visit his grand daughter at her school. “I had to be there,” he said. “She wouldn’t have understood why if I hadn’t been.”
When asked where he goes next after reaching the lofty heights of Tui Group, Long said he was looking for new sources of motivation and inspiration: “I channel my energy into [being president] of the Family Holiday Association and use my influence to open doors [for the charity],” he said.
"Take the time to relax and do hobbies. It makes you a more interesting and fulfilled person"
The FHA is focused on helping the three million British families with dependent children who cannot afford a holiday to have one.
Long said having outside interests prevented a feeling of loss when a professional career ends: “When you stop working, you can go from being a somebody to a nobody overnight. I don’t want to be that person. I want the next chapter to be equally fulfilling.”
He also counselled the young leaders against micro managing; criticising predecessors; and appearing “too busy.” As the leader of a business, whatever the size, he said it was important to “create discretionary time – people need access to you.”
Meanwhile Long argued that there was no point in apportioning blame when things go wrong for a business – it’s how you react to the crisis that counts: “We had 140 aircraft grounded in the ash cloud crisis,” he said. “You can’t blame anybody for that – but I still expected my business to outperform our competitors.”
He concluded his presentation with final advice for the young travel leaders: “Be humble. Treat everyone the same. Don’t be hierarchical.”