Ian Mounser, former Superbreak sales director, retired at the end of April. In the first of a new series called Time Traveller, he looks back at good times and bad and wishes his wife had never seen him in that dress...
What was your first job in travel?
Sales executive for the East Midlands/Yorkshire region, for a tour operator called Wings OSL. That was in 1981 and the irony was that I was originally turned down for the job, only to be re-contacted three months later to see if I was still interested. OSL was the market leader for villa holidays at the time, bigger in that sector than Thomson. I worked with a great product and with some great people. I moved to its head office in Hertfordshire in 1983, to help launch the viewdata system... now that does age me!
What was the high point of your career?
Thinking of one high point is difficult. Two things actually come to mind. One was leading Superbreak to a 'Fit for the Future' best practice award from the CBI in 2001. We've been fortunate to win plenty of travel industry awards over the years, but this was a prestigious award outside of the sector. The other 'high' for me is contributing to the fact that Superbreak has managed to maintain a strong position and a good reputation within the trade over many years, rather than being 'here today, gone tomorrow'. Spending a 45-minute car journey in a two-seater sports car with a well-known travel journalist sitting on my lap was quite an outstanding moment too.
What was the low point?
When Wings/OSL was sold by Rank to Horizon Holidays (another great brand, long gone), I was offered the job as agency sales manager, based at the head office in Birmingham. I spent two days there and realised I really didn't want the job, but felt very bad at having changed my mind at the eleventh hour. However, whilst it was horrible at the time, Horizon got swallowed up by Thomson within a year and I may have been out of a job, so it probably worked out to be a good decision.
What's your biggest regret?
Allowing my wife to see the photos from all the dressing up I've done over the years, including plenty of women's clothes, for various Advantage Conference dine-a-rounds. Other than that, no real regrets. I often wonder where my career may have led me had I decided to try and move around the travel industry rather than stay within one organisation but, that said, I have had a fantastic time at Superbreak.
What would you be doing now if you weren't in travel?
I got a B.Ed degree in Economics and spent three brilliant years teaching A level Economics, so it's a fair bet that I would still be teaching now. Given that I am shortly to move into the semi-retirement world of consulting, maybe I will get fresh opportunities to input into developing people.
Time Traveller is sponsored by