Starting as Premier Holidays’ pricing manager in 2004 to becoming director 14 years later — Mark Godfrey knows what it’s like to put in the work and make a successful career in the travel industry. I spoke to him about his journey, the challenges that came with it and the lessons he learned, so we too, can follow the right path.
TD: What was your journey like to get where you are now?
MG: From the moment I first joined Premier in 2004, I really liked the company’s ethos and values and I decided that I wanted to make my career here. So, I was absolutely delighted and incredibly proud, to be made a director earlier this year. I count myself lucky to have had the backing of such a supportive company; Premier likes to invest in its people.
“It wasn’t an easy journey to get there”
It wasn’t an easy journey to get there; each step along the way brought many new challenges as well as opportunities for me. The travel industry has also changed tremendously in the last 15 years, which impacted how I did my job and the commercial department as a whole.
Challenges over the years included learning about the various products and destinations that we sell, as Premier features such a diverse range of products. The market and competition vary tremendously between our brochure releases each year, so I needed to have a clear understanding of this and regularly review.
Time management was a quick lesson to learn in those early days at Premier; I live by deadlines most days, from brochure print deadlines, submission deadlines and offer deadlines all going through me, so I had to quickly learn to be highly organised.
I’ve been very fortunate to be in charge of a great team of people over the years; many of my team members have worked at Premier for more than 10 years so we’re a really strong department, each with our different strengths.
What’s the most recent lesson you’ve learned in your current role?
To listen and to keep your eyes open. Things move so quickly in the world of travel that you always need to be one step ahead in order to take advantage of new opportunities and provide the very best service/offering to our clients.
How do you and your company stay ahead of the curve?
The industry does present challenges and no day is ever the same. We are a large enough company to secure the commercial deals but small enough to care about every booking and to react quickly to the dynamic, ever-changing industry that is travel.
“Nothing excites us more than tailoring a holiday”
One of the most important things is always being alert to new opportunities and thinking outside the box. Listening to feedback from our customers and industry partners, from hotels and airlines to tourist boards, ensures we stay one step ahead. Premier Holidays has always taken pride in its excellent customer service, and the wealth of experience and knowledge of our staff definitely gives us an advantage. Nothing excites us more than tailoring a holiday to suit our clients’ exact requirements and working together to get it right.
As we know, the travel industry is a fast-growing sector. What trends do you think we will see in the next few years?
We’ve found that people are wanting something different from their holidays these days and are keen for experience-based breaks, rather than just a beach stay. This trend is likely to continue in the near future, which is where independent tour operators like us excel.
“A complicated, multi-centre itinerary packed with tons of bucket list activities and visiting multiple destinations at once”
The idea of planning a complicated, multi-centre itinerary packed with tons of bucket list activities and visiting multiple destinations at once is steadily becoming ever more popular – for both couples and families – and that’s something that independent operators like Premier, who specialise in these types of holidays, really stand out for and can help travel agents put together.
What would be your biggest advice to young professionals looking to make a significant career in the travel industry?
There are three key things I have always lived by and would encourage others to as well: aim high, let your ambitions be heard, and don’t be afraid to put forward ideas!
“Being forward-thinking and enthusiastic about ideas will go a long way”
Sometimes, things that seem obvious to you may not be obvious to everyone else around you, and being forward-thinking and enthusiastic about ideas will go a long way. Also, travel as much as your time and finances allow; this will increase your knowledge of destinations and bring across your passion for the industry.