Superbreak director Nick Cust provides current insights into the online travel industry

From: Superbreak
Published: Tue Dec 12 2006

Nick Cust joined the main board of Holidaybreak plc in 1997 having previously served as an Associate Director for the British travel group that contains the likes of Superbreak and Hotelnet. He was appointed as a Board member for the English Tourism Council in September 2002 and transferred to the England Marketing Advisory Board after the creation of VisitBritain.

With a vast amount of experience in working within the travel industry Nick provides some excellent insights not only into his own success but also the factors that have led to Superbreak being the UK’s leading provider of short breaks and where he sees the company developing in the future.

What factors do you feel lead to the success of Superbreak and how have you remained the UK short break market leader?

I think at a fairly stage in life, I recognised (a) the importance of distribution and (b) the importance of really good customer service. Those philosophies have stood us in very good stead and I believe they are still equally important today. The other key factor is to have a strong management team and I think if you look at the team at Superbreak everyone complements each other in different ways. There are lots of different skill sets and we have some extremely talented go-getters and some absolutely tremendous administrators and you need that sort of balance to have a successful operation.

What is the greatest challenge of being a plc director?

The greatest challenge of being a plc director is to ensure that we manage expectations, and recognise the short term nature of the City. The transparency of the plc life means that top line growth is hugely important, but to achieve this in a profitable and sustainable way are probably the greatest challenges.

Given Superbreak’s position in the hotel industry and specialty breaks supply chain, do you see online disintermediation as a potential threat to Superbreak?

I think that perhaps this was historically more of a threat, but I believe our investment in the development of packages and the broad distributions that we have – particularly new relationships with the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail as examples will certainly help to overcome that threat. However, I think it’s also equally important to remember that hotels are now controlling the selling price far more effectively, so whilst disintermediation is a threat perhaps being undercut on price is less so. All I can say is that business becomes more and more competitive every day of every year, so there is always going to be something or some organisation that’s trying to take away our brand leading position.

How does Superbreak plan to fit into the second generation Internet playing field?

We’re looking closely at the how best to take advantage of the so called "Web 2" paradigm shift and more importantly how it will help us meet our business objectives. Currently the development team are working on a Web Services API, to help make life easier for our affiliate partners when presenting our hotels data, the new Web Services API will provide an interface for affiliates to be able to repurpose the data in more creative and originals ways. We’re also about to launch user reviews and are looking at innovative ways to work with user generated content. We are quite excited by the mainstream adoption of social networking site as well as social media site and throughout the next financial year we hope to have figured out how best to find synergy with these "Web 2" giants.

About Superbreak:
Superbreak is the internet division of Superbreak Mini Holidays Limited, the market leader for short breaks throughout the UK. Superbreak and Hotelnet are part of Holiday break plc, a publicly quoted leisure company whose share price can be found in most major UK newspapers.
Company: Superbreak
Contact Name: Madeleine Roast
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 020 8547 4006

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