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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Steve Wood Explorer Travel

Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is Stephen Wood and I am the founder and CEO of Explorer Travel.

How did you end up in your current role?  

After 10 years running car body repair shops I sold the business and retired for two years before becoming a self employed marketing consultant for Worldchoice, a travel agent’s association. I enjoyed this role for two years during which time I saw an opportunity to establish an online travel agency franchise. Explorer Travel was established in 2005.

What has been your most memorable moment in the industry?  

During the first year of trading, one of my first franchisees booked a holiday to Kuredu Island in the Maldives for a friend to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Unfortunately he had booked the wrong weekend for his friend and had to re-book at the last minute leaving him with a one week holiday for two in Kuredu. I took it reluctantly at half price and flew that following weekend with my wife for a fabulous holiday.

What is the worst job you have ever had? 

That’s easy. Working in an abattoir! It was my first job after leaving university. I enrolled on a management training course with a large meat company. I had to start from the bottom and was sent to work in an abattoir in Wiltshire slaughtering pigs. I lasted three days!

What is the best deal/booking you have ever made? 

The ironic fact is that I have never sold travel. I can manage to book an Easyjet flight but that’s about it. I do not believe that one has to be able to work on the “factory floor” to run a successful business. I built up a chain of body shops without being able to spray a car. The important thing is to follow the basic rules of business: sell things for more than you bought them for; control costs; keep moving forward.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? 

My father. He was a very successful businessman although he never ran his own business. He was the CEO of a public quoted company in the UK. He was a workaholic though and I always vowed to never let work become more important than life.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be? 

I would reduce the amount of legislation. It is a highly regulated industry which I believe constrains its growth and development.

If you did not work in the industry, what job would you like to do? 

I would be a floor sweeper for the Ferrari Formula One Team.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the industry? 

All inclusive holidays are killing the businesses and lives of 10,000s of bar and restaurant owners in resorts around the world. many are being forced out of business drastically reducing the choice for holiday makers in resorts. This is a tragedy and needs to be curtailed.

How do you let  your hair down? 

Sport is my addiction. I love nothing more than to go running, cycling and playing tennis and I try and do one or the other every day. A glass of good red wine afterwards is a good way to relax afterwards.

If you could  be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be? 

I would be in Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada. It is a beautiful city with a temperate climate and beautiful countryside. It is very English and cosmopolitan with a wide choice of leisure activities. The Canadians have a great standard of living and an excellent health service. Canada is the second largest country in the world and I could spend the rest of my life exploring it.

What life lesson would you pass onto others? 

It’s a cliche but so true: work to live and not live to work. Life is short and we are here to enjoy it and “live” it. Some of the happiest people I have met have hardly anything and some of the unhappiest have the “perfect” life.

Where do you want to be in 10 years time? 

Alive. At 59 I would be very grateful to still be around working and enjoying all my sports.

Franchise information can be found at www.explorertravel.co.uk