Ashley Secker, senior trade relations manager at Red Sea Holidays, cut his teeth selling houses at Foxtons estate agents. But it was only when he was offered a day’s temporary work at Newmarket Holidays that his passion for travel began to blossom.
“I was offered one day’s work and then I ended up staying and falling in love with the industry,” he says.
“I had some great success at Newmarket, generating revenue through working with national and regional media, online deal sites and engaging face-to-face with the trade. I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to many different aspects of travel, which has led me to build a solid network and foundation for what I hope will be a long and exciting career.”
After more than seven years at Newmarket, Secker joined the team at Red Sea Holidays – a move he admits was initially difficult.
“It was a bit of a challenge because the company had been engaging less with the trade for a while. But as Egypt’s popularity is increasing again, we are confident we can steer a successful turnaround. A lot of people forget Egypt is a viable holiday destination for various reasons, and attention has been turned elsewhere for a while. However, the response and support the trade is showing Red Sea Holidays and me has been amazing.”
A successful fam trip to Egypt last year saw tangible results for Red Sea Holidays, with 80 passengers booking trips to the region afterwards.
“That’s what selling Egypt is all about, getting agents out there to experience the superb product themselves.”
Secker says that his proudest moment was embracing the trade relations manager role and building relationships with senior members of the consortia. “It’s nice to go from an account manager role to somebody this group [the consortia] seeks out for advice and to be their main point of contact,” he says.
Secker sees the 30 Under 30 programme as an opportunity to increase his bank of contacts, but also to generate awareness of Red Sea Holidays.
“Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders is a great opportunity for the business. I’ve already made contact with a fellow member of 30 Under 30 and look forward to working closer with them to drive revenue,” he enthuses.
Looking to the future, this young travel professional has lofty ambitions, with a director role locked in his sights.
“I want to be a person that others can go to for help. Recognition in the industry is a real driver for me.”
Secker offers this advice for young professionals starting out their career in the travel industry: “Embrace every opportunity, whether it’s attending an evening event or collecting as many business cards as you can. Networking is crucial to your success. Travel is not a nasty industry, so get out there and meet as many people as possible.”
Nick Hughes, sales director, tour operations – B2B Europe at Gold Medal and Travel 2, sponsor of Tomorrow’s Travel leaders, says:
“Ashley’s tenacity to grow his personal network of contacts in the travel industry is really impressive. Making those connections is all important and opens up a world of opportunities to collaborate and grow. He has understood the power of having a network across the industry and using that to carve out an increasingly responsible role at Red Sea Holidays.
“Ashley’s recognition of the valuable role that trade partners play in the success of any tour operator stands out for me. As a B2B tour operator, we know how important the trade is to the travel industry. Ashley’s determination to reconnect Red Sea Holidays with its trade partners has produced fantastic results for the brand. Egypt is an amazing destination with so much to offer travellers. Giving agents the chance to experience a destination for themselves, and to share that first-hand knowledge with their clients, has had an immediate and positive impact on Red Sea Holidays’ bookings.”