Holiday Architects

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Holiday Architects's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Holiday Architects is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Owner and Director AndrewHunt
A happy Holiday Architects
Founded in 2010, Holiday Architects aims to create expertly
planned, tailor-made holidays that are accessible to as many
people as possible. Their team members are each responsible
for only a couple of countries – ones that they know well. These
experts will have an initial conversation with the client to ascertain
their exact needs and requirements, with a view to planning
the perfect holiday – often going through several iterations in
the process. On the ground, their local agents then take care of
the client, meeting them at the airport and taking them around
the country in a private vehicle, with private guides where
appropriate. In short, every element of the trip is taken care of.
Owner Andrew Hunt tells
The Parliamentary Review
We’re far from the first company to offer this service, but traditionally it’s been
provided exclusively at the top end of the market: a minimum four-star standard
and price. By seeking out excellent mid-range accommodation options to lower the
entry price point, we’ve managed to make this type of holiday available to a much
broader section of the travelling public, without ever compromising the knowledge
and service that goes into arranging the trip.
Utilising the digital era
The impact of the internet and technology is such that it’s easy to imagine a
scenario where everyone ended up booking their holiday themselves online, using
a mixture of review sites (like TripAdvisor) and online travel agencies (like Expedia,
»Owner and Director:
»Founded in 2010
»Located in Cheltenham
»Services: Tailor-made holidays
»No. of employees: 30
»Winner of Best Place to Work
from Gloucestershire Business
Awards 2018
Holiday Architects
Highlighting best practice
KAYAK or, not because
they really wanted to do it that way,
but because they weren’t aware of any
other way of doing it.
We want to ensure that people who
are concerned about being dictated
to by an algorithm have their minds
put at rest. They no longer have to
trust a review site that may have an
issue with fake reviews, or risk having
their data mishandled. Now, there is
a viable alternative to booking and
planning their holidays. The battle
to make sure the voice of the tailor-
made sector is not drowned out by
the colossal marketing budgets of the
big tech-driven travel businesses is the
most important long-term issue for us.
A significant element of our marketing
is going to be around educating
consumers about the benefits (and
accessibility) of tailor-made travel.
From one person in a bedroom nine
years ago, we’ve now grown to 30
people in a landmark Cheltenham
office, and we expect to send in
excess of 2,000 people away on
holiday in 2019. We’ve been among
the fastest-growing tour operators
in the UK for much of this time. This
growth is fuelled by being able to
attract a steady stream of experienced
and capable travel experts from our
competitors (complemented by a
number from outside the industry).
In the early days, persuading these
people to leave their jobs at successful,
reputable companies to come and
work for an unknown start-up with no
reputation or brand was an interesting
challenge. It forced us to think about
what we could offer that the other
employers couldn’t. This was the first
step on a journey that has resulted in
a progressive work environment that
is unique in this sector. We have no
set hours and uncapped leave; indeed,
we have some team members working
part-time and allow remote working at
least one day a week.
Defying convention to achieve
We’ve scrapped the traditional line-
manager model and replaced it by
splitting the team into small units of
four to six people of mixed experience
who take responsibility for holding
each other to account, coaching and
mentoring each other, and sharing best
practice. They also have a quarterly
innovation project aiming to improve
Team member Sophie
on a research trip in
From one
person in a
bedroom nine
years ago,
we’ve now
grown to 30
people in a
on (or completely rip up and rebuild)
one process or practice from any area
of the business of theirchoosing.
The whole model is designed to
encourage individuals to take full
responsibility for their job, their
performance, their clients and
each other; we want them to hold
themselves to their own internal
standards, believing that these will
always be higher than anything set
externally. We invest heavily in training
to support this, both in the technical
skills required to do the job and in the
emotional development needed.
We believe that in the 21st century,
this has to be the way to work. A
recent Gallup poll showed that only
eight per cent of British workers are
engaged in (that is, highly involved in
and enthusiastic about) their jobs. We
also have a lot of parents of young
children on the team, as well as people
who have interests outside of work.
Our way of working is designed to let
parents spend quality time with their
children, to let people pursue other
interests and passions alongside their
employment, and to try to make them
feel involved in and enthusiastic about
what we do here. We believe this
is going to be a crucial factor in our
future success.
In good stead for the future
We’re confident about the future
and expect to maintain our strong
growth for a number of years. We’re
managing to get our message about
the benefits of tailor-made travel
heard, and our clients really appreciate
the value we add to the holiday
booking process. Competition is going
to be vital in driving up standards
and, by that same token, consumer
perceptions of the sector.
Unfortunately, however, there are a
number of barriers to entry for high-
growth start-up businesses that don’t
have significant financial backing.
The significant lag between a client
booking a holiday (the point when
we recognise our marketing, staffing
and general overhead costs) and when
a client departs (when we recognise
the income from the holiday) means
that balance sheets look weaker than
the actual financial health of the
business. If the finance sector took
a more nuanced view of balance
sheets, factoring in these lag times
and expected cancellation rates, it
would encourage more entrepreneurs
to enter the tailor-made sector, giving
us the competition we believe is so
important for the future of the sector.
We’re managing
to get our
message about
the benefits of
travel heard
Holiday Architects
Christmas Party

This article was sponsored by Holiday Architects. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster