Decisions: Andrew Dunn

Founder and MD of luxury travel company Scott Dunn on his best decisions - and his regrets.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

My best decision...

... was not calling the company 'Ski Skint'. I started up after I went to visit my sister, who was working in Verbier, Switzerland as a chalet girl. I had never skied before, but I fell utterly in love with it while I was there and I thought, I want to do a lot more of this.

I was a student with no money whatsoever and the only time I could afford a ski pass was in the afternoon. It was natural for me to think about starting a travel company for people in the same situation - and, at the time, there were a lot of students out there with no money.

However, one of the people I discussed my plans with was my grandmother, who said: 'You can't possibly call it Ski Skint - you'll never do well selling things cheaply. People always want to buy the best.'

She definitely had a point - aiming for the premium market means that we do have a phenomenal number of returning customers. When you have an aspirational brand, there's a natural confidence - which is always going to be an advantage.

My worst decision...

... was to start chartering our own planes in 1992. It wasn't great timing - it was the last time the world fell to pieces: sterling went to pot, oil prices went through the roof, but I had a dream about that black Scott Dunn plane. Sadly, the surcharges were too much and it didn't work out.

The other bad decision I made was not buying more property in Courchevel 1850, one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world. I was given the opportunity a few years ago to buy several plots and I had a big debate with the finance director about it - he said we shouldn't and I knew we should. Since then, it has become the ski resort of choice for Russian billionaires and prices have gone through the roof. If we had bought land and built on it, the value would have increased a hundredfold. Forget tour operating - it would have been an absolute fortune. These days, it's not just the land that costs a fortune - people charge silly money for everything in that particular resort. Even eating there is perversely expensive now.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Want to encourage more female leaders? Openly highlight their achievements

A study shows that publicly praising women not only increases their willingness to lead, their...

Message to Davos: Don't blame lack of trust on 'society'

The reason people don't trust you is probably much closer to home, says public relations...

Dame Cilla Snowball: Life after being CEO

One year on from stepping back as boss of Britain's largest advertising agency, Dame Cilla...

How to change people's minds when they refuse to listen

Research into climate change deniers shows how behavioural science can break down intransigence.

"Paying women equally would cripple our economy"

The brutal fact: underpaid women sustain British business, says HR chief Helen Jamieson.

Why you're terrible at recruitment (and can AI help?)

The short version is you're full of biases and your hiring processes are badly designed....