Kelkoo Travel managing director Chris Nixon takes a trip down memory lane...
What was your first job in travel?
My first venture in the travel sector was in 2002 when I joined Moneysupermarket.com to set up Travelsupermarket.com. I started by building the price comparison element for flights, followed by car hire, then hotels and finally holidays. It was a massive challenge, but enjoyable and I learnt a great deal. This brings me swiftly onto my current role as MD of Kelkoo Travel, which is my second travel challenge.
What was the high point of your career?
In July 2007 I was part of the Executive Board that floated the Moneysupermarket Group which included Travelsupermarket.com. The website floated on the stock exchange for £850 million and we saw the company’s market value reach a heady £1.2 billion. These were pretty exciting times.
What was the low point?
My team worked flat out for more than a year to build the flight comparison engine, signing up and integrating all the flight merchants. To announce the launch, we secured exclusive coverage in The Sunday Times Travel supplement. It made the front page and the site was given a glowing review against our competitors. This meant that more than 100,000 people clicked through to the site on that day, which was an amazing result, except that our site simply couldn’t cope with the volume of traffic to the site and our servers melted. By lunchtime on that Sunday, we had to post a holding page apologising that the site was unavailable. We asked visitors to leave their email addresses so we could let them know when it would be back up and running. It was soul destroying to see such a golden opportunity slipping through our fingers.
What's your biggest regret?
My biggest regret is that I didn’t roll Travelsupermarket.com out to the rest of Europe. However, I’m now working with a pan-European product so maybe I can resurrect this dream.
What would you be doing now if you weren't in travel?
I’ve always loved working in a fast paced and dynamic environment, so I’m pretty much fulfilling that aspect, but a real passion of mine is high performance cars. If I could incorporate fast cars into my working day then life would pretty much be perfect.
Time Traveller is sponsored by Harp Wallen. www.harpwallen.co.uk/
Wednesday, August 10, 2011