Competition for one of the 30 places on the annual list of Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders has grown more intense with every year since its inception in 2012.
This year saw a record number of entries, which left the judges with plenty of tough decisions, before they managed to come up with the list of young stars who will comprise the 30 Under 30 for 2015-16.
Many entrants were nominated by senior colleagues within their companies for their achievements, while others put themselves forward for inclusion.
This year’s judges included ITT board member Claire Steiner, TTG Media’s managing director Daniel Pearce, editor Pippa Jacks and features editor Katherine Lawrey, and several of last year’s 30 Under 30 members, along with Ysanne Hendey, global talent search manager at Tui, which is once again supporting this initiative.
Read on to find out who the new 30 to watch in the industry are, and who will be benefiting from the advice of travel’s most senior leaders during the next year...
Senior associate, Travlaw
Farina works in the commercial department for Leeds-based specialist law firm Travlaw, offering advice on issues such as the Package Travel Regulations, Atol, data protection and Office of Fair Trading guidance. Farina also set up and runs Travlaw’s Intellectual Property department. She has been building up her profile by appearing on stage at the Aito conference in Istanbul last year, as well as writing opinion pieces in the trade press.
What her nominator said: I have witnessed Farina's confidence and ability to provide practical and pragmatic advice on a range of complex legal issues. Farina is building up an excellent reputation as one of the travel sector's leading commercial lawyers.
Sales & marketing manager, Cara Hotel Marketing
Marion joined Cara four years ago, initially as a sales and marketing executive after graduating from New York’s St John’s University with an MBA. She quickly became part of Cara’s management team looking after France and Benelux markets. She has doubled the distribution for AMResorts’ properties in the last few years through building awareness and trade relationships.
What her nominator said: She is an extremely passionate and very determined individual. As a result of her work, we have created two new positions within the sales department and achieved up to 40% incremental revenue in her markets.
Senior marketing executive, Mark Warner
One of Emilia’s main achievements has been organising this year’s Advantage Travel Partnership Conference at Mark Warner’s resort in Bodrum, which was the first time that a tour operator has hosted a consortium conference. She has also created a “mummy blogger” platform using social media to promote the company’s resorts within this community.
What her nominator said: Emilia has helped Mark Warner to become one of the most recognised travel brands in the mummy blogger community and delivered significant positive PR in raising Mark Warner's profile as the leading family holiday tour operator.
Head of marketing and communications, UKinbound
Stephanie is responsible for all aspects of the trade association’s communications and PR. Since joining UKinbound in 2012, she has helped raised its profile through the trade press and coverage on TV news channels such as BBC News and Sky News. Stephanie is also secretary to UKinbound’s board of directors and has managed the updating of its constitution.
What her nominator said: She is very much seen as the "face of UKinbound". Our PR coverage has gone from strength to strength, under Steph's leadership.
Co-founder, Much Better Adventures
Sam is the co-founder of Much Better Adventures with Alex Narracott, a global marketplace for booking tailor-made holidays and experiences through local, independent specialists. Sam set up the business with Alex in 2012 and they are now leading the company’s global roll-out to new destinations across Europe, the Americas and Asia.
What he said: We have more than doubled customer numbers year-on-year and have secured external growth funding from multiple investors including industry executives and our supplier base. It's an exciting year ahead!
Industry manager, travel sector, Google
Scott has been one of the driving forces in raising sales of major airlines through Google’s platforms since joining the search giant’s UK operation in 2012. Sales have increased by more than 12% year-on-year through the channels which Scott has responsibility for, including YouTube delivery for all travel clients in the UK.
What his nominator said: He is by far and away the strongest person under 30 in the Google travel team. He is a leader and strongly considered a leader of the future at Google.
Strategy business partner, Virgin Holidays
Umberto has a key role at Virgin Holidays working closely with the operator’s managing director and head of strategy to shape the direction of the business. This includes leading the internal Plan to Win initiative which has helped to double Virgin’s profitability since being introduced last year. Umberto also works with Sir Richard Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurship helping young people to develop their business skills in the Caribbean and South America.
What he said:
I mentor young entrepreneurs from a variety of industries and at different business development stages on issues ranging from business plan drafting for an online retailer to employee relations for an established coffee plantation.
Onboard coach, Thomson Airways
After starting work with Thomson Airways as cabin crew in 2007, Craig later joined the management team at the airline’s Doncaster base, from where he has managed and guided more than 80 cabin crew in his role as cabin crew performance manager. He has moved to the position of onboard coach where he also works with management colleagues to ensure high standards are maintained.
What he said: I have a lot of hunger and drive to push myself further and have done this by working at other bases, shadowing other departments and making contact with colleagues in similar positions to learn skills and share best practices.
Founding director, The Beyond Travel Company
Jessica co-founded The Beyond Travel Company earlier this year with the aim of offering a range of “bohemian” luxury travel holidays. She has used her background in the theatre industry and immersive events to create these experience-based trips.
What her nominator said: Jessica is a force to be reckoned with. She has shaped our innovative new range of experiences, which is pioneering the idea of experiential travel with the theme of bohemian luxury adventures.
Director, Mainstage Travel
Aden and business partner Rob Tominey used a £100,000 investment from the BBC TV Dragons’ Den programme to help fund the growth of Mainstage Travel which specialises in operating clubbing and festival holidays for the 18-24 market. Mainstage also runs the annual Snowboxx festival in the French Alps, which attracts 5,000 partygoers and top-name DJs.
What his nominator said: Aden and Rob are pioneers in travel and even managed to win over the Dragon's Den, securing one of the largest investments in recent times. Their vision, creative ability and drive has led to huge success.
Account manager, Click Travel
Baljinder has moved up the ranks of the Birmingham-based travel management company from being a junior account manager to account manager after initially joining the company in 2010. She has played a major part in helping Click to achieve a record-breaking year by retaining all her clients and recording a 100% satisfaction rate. She also writes a series of blogs for Click’s marketing department.
What her nominator said: She is an absolute star. As one of hugely successful account management team, she works with some of the best in the business. But even in such illustrious company, Bal stands out as a truly remarkable individual.
Sales manager, Princess Cruises
Cruise-loving Mark always wanted to work in the industry and joined Princess Cruises in 2013 when the line introduced a dedicated UK sales team. Working initially as a sales co-ordinator, Mark’s role has grown to include management responsibilities and challenges such as dealing with trade communications, national events and the development of PR opportunities. He was also the driving force in introducing the Princess Presents cinema event, which has reached more than 2,000 agents in the UK.
What he said: My passion and love for the cruise industry started from a very young age having enjoyed cruise holidays for the past 15 years. I was promoted to sales manager at the age of 25 - the youngest senior member of the team.
Trade marketing manager, Celebrity Cruises
Australian Pascale joined Celebrity’s marketing team in 2014 while on her honeymoon. Despite having no background in travel, she has been responsible for project managing the relaunch of Celebrity’s Eclipse, launching the line’s agent reward programme and creating its promotional trade strategy.
What her nominator said: She has since demonstrated an incredible passion for the travel industry making an impressive mark both internally with the business and externally with our trade partners. Her energy, passion for delivering brilliant work and commitment to the brand and business is just the start.
Business development manager, Attraction World
Emma joined the ticketing specialist’s sales team two years ago and has racked up some impressive results. During the last year, she increased sales from her independent accounts by 92% from £1.2 million to £2.3 million, while also raising sales with Thomas Cook Co-operative Travel (TCCT) by 16% to £3.7 million.
What her nominator said: Her creative, driven attitude has reaped benefits in terms of business performance, plus she has inspired her colleagues to try new avenues with outstanding results.
Managing director, Check-in-London.com
Gavin founded his booking website in 2009 to capture growing demand for serviced apartment accommodation in London. Under his guidance, the company has achieved bookings of more than £12 million over the last five years. He has also been appointed as deputy chair of the Hotel Booking Agents Association’s serviced apartment committee where he is aiming to increase awareness of the sector.
What his nominator said: Gavin promotes a strong work ethic within his team nurturing relationships with accommodation providers and delivering a high standard of customer service resulting in a large volume of repeat clients.
Product and commercial manager, Flexicruise & Belleair Cruise
Since joining the company in 2014, Anna has prioritised using social media as a way of communicating with customers and increasing the brand profiles. This has led to a 37% rise in traffic to the firm’s websites, while conversion levels have improved by more than 25%. She has also helped secure marketing support from key suppliers for promotional campaigns.
What her nominator said: Anna has been a breath of fresh air for our business. She has made an amazing difference to our results, outlook and has had a positive impact on our team.
Head of engineering finance UK, Tui Travel Group
Ryan plays a key role in supporting the group’s fleet of aircraft from a financial perspective. He leads a team of 10 staff who account for the spending on engineering and maintenance for Tui’s 61 aircraft. Over the last three years, Ryan’s team has helped to save more than £50 million by driving efficiencies and securing better commercial contracts.
What he said: As well as delivering bottom line savings I have also streamlined a number of finance processes, saving a large amount of time and money, and have won awards internally for these efforts.
Strategic account manager, Carnival UK (P&O Cruises & Cunard)
Iain has made a quick impression after only becoming account manager with the cruise company earlier this year. He hit the ground running by recording a 15% year-on-year growth in revenue for his accounts and exceeding the sales target for his first three months by more than £1 million.
What his nominator said: Iain shows true qualities of a leader within the industry. Having only been in the account manager role for four months he has shown clear leadership through supporting the wider team, driving sales and delivering clear strategic and commercial plans.
Head of marketing, Honeymoon Dreams/Pure Destinations
Since joining the company in June 2013, Tom has seen the marketing team grow from two to five people as the company has expanded. He now heads up the marketing department and has been the driving force in improving Honeymoon Dreams’ search engine optimisation (SEO), which has seen organic traffic rise by 825% since joining the company. Tom is also in charge of all PPC (pay per click) and email marketing.
What he said: I have organised client events with companies such as Armani and Harvey Nichols and our first holiday exhibition. With increasing web visits and enquiries, it has enabled us to increase staff, revenue and profit.
Mobile commercial manager, Tui Group
Will has risen quickly within Europe’s biggest tour operator since joining the company’s graduate leadership programme in 2012. He was soon promoted into a management role with responsibility for sales and merchandising across three of Tui’s major UK websites which attract a total of 150 million visitors a year. He has also led a major project to implement new software, helping add £23 million in incremental revenue in its first year.
What he said: My primary focus is optimising and implementing new products and features for Tui’s mobile apps, one of which recently won a high-profile industry award.
Creative, marketing & editorial manager, Jacada Travel
After joining Jacada Travel 18 months ago, Heather now manages a team of seven. One of her most recent achievements has been to organise an event at the Royal Geographical Society, which raised over £10,000 for rhino projects in Botswana. Heather has doubled the company’s social media followers through initiatives such as Instagram takeovers and introduced marketing videos. She has also launched Jacada first consumer magazine.
What she said: In response to my team’s work, our enquiries have notably increased over 2015 in comparison to previous years and we are gaining more and more repeat clients.
Assistant manager, Flight Centre, Kingston upon Thames
Rosie decided to mark her promotion to assistant manager by focusing on achieving more positive feedback forms from customers, known internally as ‘hugs’. She even created a leaderboard for staff with the most “hugs” with a prize for the best performer over the year. It also had a positive effect on repeat enquiries, which rose by 10% year-on-year.
What she said: I overhauled customer service standards to make our store the most hugged in the country. I wanted to make sure that my consultants were giving the best possible service to every customer - be it a large or small booking.
Senior resourcing manager, Thomas Cook
Emily has overhauled the way Cook recruits staff for its shops and call centres by introducing a new customer-focused selection process with includes exercises on sales and service. She has also added leadership and behaviour testing for Cook’s managers and leaders, with emotional intelligence testing due to be introduced as well.
What her nominator said: Emily has transformed the way we hire both front line travel consultants across our UK shops and contact centres, and also managers in all areas.
Senior product manager, Tui UK & Ireland
Francesca originally joined Tui UK on the inaugural commercial placement scheme while still at university. She rejoined the business after finishing her studies and has quickly risen through the ranks in her five years at Tui. Francesca has recently developed Tui’s school leaver programme, which may be rolled out across the company.
What her nominator said: Fran is very focused on people development and ensuring that the right support and focus is there to ensure she has a high-performing team.
Senior PR executive, Tourism Australia
James manages the day-to-day press office for the tourist board, as well as working on bigger projects such as a recent shoot in Australia for ITV’s Good Morning Britain show. He also managed the Invite the World to Dinner campaign which saw 10 of the UK’s leading food and wine personalities travel down under for a gala dinner.
What his nominator said: James is a true PR professional. While managing multiple projects James always keeps a strategic hat on, and is committed to the organisation’s 2020 goal of increasing tourism spending to Australia from the UK.
International leadership graduate, Tui Group
Over the last two years, Camillo has worked on key projects within Tui’s customer operations division, including the development of a new specialist education product, improving onboard airline sales and looking at how to increase customer satisfaction during Thomson flights.
What his nominator said: Camillo’s personal qualities have impressed me significantly. He has a high learning agility with a general maturity in his approach, confidence, ambition and a delivery-focused attitude. He’s also good fun and a great guy with strong interpersonal skills and an impressive networker.
Co-founder & chief executive, Cruiseo
James admits that he became hooked on the travel industry after taking his first cruise when he was 14. He originally combined selling cruises from home with undertaking a graduate training programme in corporate banking. But, aged 24, he turned his back on a career in finance to start Cruiseo last year. The idea of the online agency is to match customers with their ideal cruise and allow them to book the trip through the site.
What he said: I came up with an innovative cruise idea that resulted in me leaving a great job. With my knowledge of the cruise lines, ships, destinations, demographics and the questions customers ask, Cruiseo was born.
Account manager, Carnival UK
Amy has been working for the cruise giant for eight years – currently in the P&O Cruises and Cunard agency sales team where she has formulated a 12-month marketing and training plan. This has been so successful that the concept has been rolled out across the group’s sales teams. Bookings for one of Amy’s accounts have increased by 95% year-on-year.
What her nominator said: A true self-starter, Amy is always helping others with their development and taking a key role in helping to run the overall team. She volunteered to take on running the largest agent partner account and has made fantastic changes to how we do business together.
Sales and marketing account director, Hills Balfour
Rosina, who has been at Hills Balfour for seven years, has been at the forefront of helping to promote tourism to Kenya after the country was affected by terrorist attacks in 2014. She was part of the team that helped to persuade the British Foreign Office to lift its advice against travel to the resort city of Mombasa earlier this year.
What her nominator said: With or without budget, Rosina has worked tirelessly with the UK trade to grow arrivals into Kenya.
Head of product development, Blue Chip Holidays
Sam has been leading the project to introduce holiday lodges to the portfolio of Exeter-based Blue Chip, which has traditionally specialised in being an agency for cottages. Over the last 18 months, Sam has built up a collection of more than 100 lodges to bolster the company’s product range. He was previously business development manager for Hoseasons Lodge & Park programme before joining Blue Chip in 2013.
What his nominator said: Sam is assured, driven and highly motivated. Like many great sales people, he has very high energy levels and is incredibly passionate about the business he manages.
It’s that time of year when we get to unveil the talented individuals that have made it through to TTG’s Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders: 30 Under 30. I’m delighted to be involved this year and to be able to introduce them on behalf of Tui UK & Ireland.
The scheme to date has picked out and developed some of the brightest stars of the travel industry – and this year is certainly no different. They’ve already made an incredible contribution to travel and the opportunities the 30 Under 30 programme provides will be invaluable as they grow into the next generation of leaders.
I often say that I have the best job in the world, and I know that I wouldn’t have got to where I am without the mentors that have helped me along the way. I wish everyone in the scheme the best of luck and encourage them to make the most of networking with prominent figures from the world of travel. And as our industry is full of talent, I’d like to remind you that there’s always next year if you’d like to apply.