Domes Resorts’ first BDM for the UK and Ireland tells Travel Gossip why he was destined to work in the industry, why he’s never moved from the posh part of Preston and why an invite could be winging its way to Jane McDonald soon…
I used to play travel agents when I was a kid. My friends on the street and I would go to Black’s Travel in Preston and get the latest Thomson, Intasun, Kosmar and Golden Sun brochures and make our own tickets. I’d set up my agency in the garden. I never wanted to be the customer. I was always the one with the phone, making the bookings.
I hated school. I don’t think they got my big personality and support for LGBTQ pupils just wasn’t there. Being in the travel industry, you can be who you want to be.
I left at 16 and joined Thomas Cook on a Modern Apprenticeship, on £67 per week. It was nerve-wracking when the assessor watched you with the customers. You felt like you were on stage. After two or three years, I moved to Going Places, then First Choice, then Holiday Hypermarket. There was no internet pricing then, or Tripadvisor – just the good old Gazetteers.
Holiday Hypermarket was so modern for its time. People queued up to get a ticket to be served – a bit like the meat counter at the supermarket. It was such good fun. We had 30 or 40 members of staff, a cinema a ski machine and a Cyber Market – a bit like an internet café, where they could research their holidays, but couldn’t book. And who else can say they worked with Elvis, Marilyn and Buddy Holly statues on rotation?
I’m from South Preston (the posher bit). I’ve never moved. I live within five minutes’ walking distance of my two brothers and my mum. I’m very much a friends and family sort of person. I am 39 and still a mummy’s boy. I love a good Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc and walking, shopping, or a weekend away with the girls. I’ve got very close friends in the industry and I’m godfather to the daughter of a former TUI colleague, who’s my best mate.
I was the first UK and Ireland BDM when I joined Dome Resorts in August last year. There’s so much opportunity. We’re not just a hotel resort – we’re a lifestyle brand and I’m helping agents choose the right resort for their clients with our new brand segmentations. We are expanding massively with new openings for 2024 in Santorini and Athens. I definitely want to try Greek Island hopping ‘Domes style’ and I can’t wait to dine at our new Greek fine dining restaurant, Makris, that overlooks the Acropolis.
I’ve been a BDM for seven years. It’s such a diverse role, from presenting on stage to hosting a coffee morning, then hitting the pavement to see our amazing trade partners. All the BDMs know each other, and we support each other – whether it be the latest gossip or sharing knowledge.
My claim to fame is meeting the Chuckle Brothers backstage at the panto in Preston. A school friend’s dad worked on security and we got VIP backstage access.
I hate airport queues. My travel hack is to book fast track with Holiday Extras, then go straight to the lounge for some fizzy stuff. It makes you feel like a VIP.
The person I’d most like to travel with is Jane McDonald. She’s my absolute guilty pleasure. There’s an idea – wonder if she fancies a trip to Domes?
Monday is my admin day. It sets me up for a really great week of success.
- Pint or Prosecco? Prosecco. In fact, Prosecco by the pint!
- Dawn or dusk? Dusk.
- City break or beach? Beach – most of our resorts are beachfront too.
- Cats or dogs? Dogs. I often look after my mum’s German Wirehaired Pointer, Lottie and I’ve just been looking at getting a rescue dog. Are agents open to them joining me on visits?!
- Tapas or pizza? Definitely tapas and a few wines with the girls.