Driving Ambition: An interview with On The Beach CEO Simon Cooper

In the next video from finnCap's Ambition Nation Listed 50 series, Rajan Datar speaks to On The Beach CEO Simon Cooper.

by Management Today staff
Last Updated: 24 Sep 2019

The Ambition Nation Listed 50 identifies the top 50 leading smaller UK-listed companies that offer the best blend of growth and quality as ranked by finnCap's equity analysis tool, The Slide Rule. To celebrate those who appear on the list, journalist Rajan Datar toured the country in an all-electric black cab to interview a selection of the UK’s leading business leaders to find out what the key factors are behind their success.

After taking its first booking in May 2004 from a room in his modest terrace house, On The Beach founder Simon Cooper helped grow the Manchester-based firm into one of the leading online travel retailers in the country.

"It all started back in 1995, my sales book was the Athletic Union Handbook. I would phone the ski club president and arrange to meet them for lunch or drinks. We’d then talk about their ski holiday needs, I’d build a package for them and the rest is history."

The company was launched during the early days of online transactions and its ability to adapt to emerging technologies has proved key to its success.

"Back in 2004, the proportion of holidays that we booked through the online platform was less than 10%. We were an early mover into that market, so the first tech platform that we built only cost us £1,800, and it was essentially an aggregation engine that sourced flight seats, availability of pricing and bed availability and pricing. And this was then presented to the consumer through a fairly unsophisticated interface.

"And over the next few years we started to build our capability and brand. It was about harnessing the power of that brand, so ensuring that we were communicating with our customers beyond just the purchasing and the travelling on holiday."

Moving forward Cooper is confident that the company’s ability to keep developing the most innovative technology, its competitive pricing and continued brand loyalty will help keep On The Beach ahead of its competitors.

"A key reason behind the success of the business has been the ability to out-innovate the competition through technology and the talent that we’re able to recruit to build that technology for us. And other than that, the scale we have gives us the big advantage of being able to buy products more cheaply than others because we’re buying in volume. And finally, brand trust is very important. When you’re asking someone to buy a product that may cost many thousands of pounds and six months ahead of travel, they need to trust the brand."

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Read more stories celebrating finnCap’s Ambition Nation Top 50 and register for finnCap’s Ambition Nation Summit being held on 2nd October, 8.30am-11.00am, at Claridges, London.

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