Jennifer AtkinsonPresident at the Inspiring Travel Company
President, ITC Travel Group
I joined ITC in 2004 as Head of Marketing, and over the past 15 years, it has been my privilege to facilitate not only the growth and development of the company but also of the amazing team members I have the pleasure of working with.
A passion for travel
I have always loved travel and worked in the travel sector prior to joining ITC but it was here that my love developed into a genuine passion! Being able to visit amazing destinations and stay in some the world's top hotels means I completely understand the appeal of luxury travel and the levels service that our customers expect. One of my all-time favourite hotels is Burj Al Arab in Dubai, they really do epitomise excellence and innovation in luxury hospitality. The Caribbean is also a love of mine, I love the spirit of the region and the diversity of atmosphere and landscape between the different islands. Barbados is where it all began for ITC over 40 years ago, and it's a destination that will always be close to my heart, too.
As any businessperson will tell you, the late noughties were a turbulent time, with recession hitting many industries hard. It was in this context in January 2009 I was appointed Chief Operating Officer at ITC by founder Drew Foster, who sadly passed away later that year.
At that point, the business was making a loss, and I was entrusted with implementing a new vision and relaunching Inspiring Travel Company with a new management team and business structure in place. It was a huge challenge, but that one I relished!
I'm happy to say that, with hard work from the whole ITC family, these changes worked!
By April 2010 I was the Chief Executive Officer and the business was turning a small profit again, and six years on we have seen huge growth year on year during a period when many of our competitors were making a loss. I believe that the passion and engagement of staff across the company - as well as our client-centred, personal service - has played a huge part in this.
In fact, the last financial year was our most successful on record, and in light of this, we took the unprecedented step of taking our entire staff to Tenerife to celebrate.
But the exciting developments in my business life don't stop there! In August 2014 I bought out the Inspiring Travel Company Group in partnership with Paul Pindar. It wasn't plain sailing, but we made it happen, and I'm so glad we did. Less than a year later we have acquired the Western & Oriental travel group, making Western & Oriental, Regent Holidays, Rainbow Tours and Villa Select the newest additions to our family.
A passion for people
With a bigger staff team than ever, my passion for people is still a central focus. I want everyone's talents to be recognised and given the opportunity to shine. I think the greatest businesses learn how to realise the untapped resources and potential in their workforce. Everyone can do it, it’s just whether management believes they can do it. Therefore I tend to get quite involved from dealing with customers to big-picture ideas, trying to empower colleague’s potential!
All of this was achieved during my 30s, along with having two children! As a working mother, I know how difficult it can be to establish a work-life balance, so staff well-being is paramount to my business philosophy. As President of the ITC Travel Group my main aims are to lead from the heart to make as many people as possible happy; both staff and clients!