Someone's Got to Do It: Jobs In The Travel Industry

PAUL HOPPER is managing director of the London Tourist Board

Why does London need a tourist board? Surely the city sells itself.

We are a very successful city at the moment. We can always do better, and to keep London at the top we have to work at it, in the same way that any consumer goods marketing organisation has to keep working - you don't find that they stop marketing motor cars simply because they've got the top market share. In fact it encourages them, probably, to invest more in their promotion.

London has got to have the same attitude in that because we have a very exciting story to tell and if you stop telling them we will go off the air.

The other point is that there is so much going on in the city that is new. There's the incredible development along the South Bank of the Thames, the whole range of new millennium things coming on stream.

How did you get your job?

By responding to a newspaper advertisement.

I have a marketing background; my previous two jobs were marketing directors of two national organisations: one, significantly, in the private sector in Legal and General, and one, significantly, which may well have been of help to me in applying for this job in the public sector, was with the Royal Mail. Prior to that I had worked for over 20 years in British Airways.

What do you love/ hate about your job?

What I love about it is the variety and the fact that London is such an exciting place. The thing I dislike most about my job is the constant need to watch the bottom line, in the sense that many people think we are publicly funded to a greater extent than we are.

We are, in fact, a private company limited by guarantee, and we have to balance our books every year.

What would you say to people that say they don't want a marketed product - they want a holiday?

I think that there are very few people who are buying any holiday, wherever it may be, who are not being marketed to: whether they are buying a package holiday to Spain, whether they are buying a weekend away in a luxury hotel in the English countryside, they have been subject to marketing of some form, whether it is an erudite article in your newspaper on a Saturday, or whether it is a snip on a Classic FM broadcast, or whatever. Whether you're buying a motor car or soap powder, you are being marketed to.

Which part of London does the boss of the LTB go to on his holidays?

I was in Greenwich last weekend.

What do you most worry about?

One or two key issues need looking at and transport is one of them. Hotel quality is another. The thing that I probably fear most is a downturn in the economy. A recession that would hurt London.

Is the London mayor a good idea?

We very much welcome the arrival of the mayor, we very much look forward to working with him or her because I believe that he/she will have an opportunity to be an amazing herald of London.

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