Meet Andy Perrin CEO of Inghams
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Andy is a dyed in the wool tour operator - the overseas rep that never got away. Having studied law, he then decided on an Austrian ski season to improve his German and learn how to get down the slopes gracefully. Back in 1981 he gave up the bar for the T-bar, and he still works with Austria (and beyond) today.
He now heads up Inghams, and is excited about being part of its 70-plus year history and exceptional reputation in ski and lakes and mountains holidays; indeed the company was voted Best Specialist Tour Operator of 2012 by readers of the Sunday Times Travel Magazine.
We agree on the fact that the world is getting smaller and that the use of the internet via pcs, laptops and handheld devices for booking holidays is on the rise, seemingly unstoppably. This has meant that travellers are getting more adventurous, particularly those in the mature bracket, requiring tour operators to keep innovating and improving, as such huge choice is now so easily available. Inghams has risen to this challenge in both its Lakes & Mountains and Ski programmes, and is never complacent, with customers demanding ever more in terms of quality, service and value. No one, Andy tells me, is too proud to ask for more these days and the Inghams response is to add value continually, eliminating many single room supplements, offering more in-resort service and providing a host of ‘added value’ offers and savings in many properties.
He is not convinced by the ‘staycation’ concept, seeing it as a blip which peaked after the credit crunch hit, but is no longer a strong contender for holidaymakers, who by all accounts, really prioritise a week or two abroad each year, particularly after a UK summer with weather like 2012. And for many mature travellers, that’s actually a week or three, or four or five. We talk about self-packaging holidays on the internet, which again Andy sees as a short-lived trend, something that maybe had to be tried once but simply didn’t live up to expectations. The convenience and security of using a tour operator simply cannot be beaten, with one single and simple transaction to get you to the mountains, versus up to seven separate elements to organise and co-ordinate for the DIY booker, plus tour operator prices often work out cheaper anyway through sheer economy of scale. And then of course the volcanic ash cloud rather underlined the point that the independent traveller really was on their own, whereas tour operators really came into their own, providing support all the way throughout the many difficulties which arose, and there is clearly a high value attached to this by guests.
These days the mature traveller is certainly active, wanting plenty to do on their lakes and mountains holiday, across a range including walking, sightseeing, cultural excursions and genuine local experiences. Inghams enjoys creating these different additions to the traditional holiday and in the last two years has focussed on developing new ideas and some interesting, quirky angles, all most certainly approved of by their customers. There is now, for example, the chance to take a ‘switching off’ holiday in an Austrian monastery, or to combine a Danube cruise with a week on the lakes, or to explore Austria’s Wilder Kaiser Mountains with an experienced walking guide.
So to the holidays Andy personally enjoys: he admits to being a guinea pig for Inghams, trying out new destinations as a guest before they go on sale and enjoys the variety this brings. So rest assured, wherever your Inghams holiday takes you, there’s a chance the CEO has tested it out for you!
Find out more about Inghams Lakes and Mountains holidays.
38 people found this feature helpful