BA PEOPLE • January 2022
Who has the world’s best job? In her role as British Airways Holidays’ destination manager, it could well be Olivia Moss. Alongside her team, she has the enviable task of deciding which hotels make suitable partners in her region, the fabulous US West Coast. Here, Olivia tells The Club what it takes
Tell us about your career at British Airways
I started in 2004 within the customer operations and support team, liaising with hotels on behalf of sales agents and dealing with operational queries. Three years later I moved to marketing, before eventually taking a secondment as a destination executive. A few moves back and forth later, and I was promoted to a destination manager, where I’ve been ever since.
What does your typical day look like?
The first thing I do is look at our performance from the day before – analysing what has booked particularly well or not so well, and why. There are always contracts to be agreed and issues to be ironed out, so lots of emails! Or, if there’s a big sale, or a tourist board we’re collaborating with, then we would be speaking to our hotels and ensuring that we have enough compelling offers to align with the activity.
“Our goal: to provide customers with the most competitively priced package holidays”
What traits and skills do you need to be a destination manager?
Relationship skills are very important. We work very closely with our hotel partners to achieve optimum results for both them and us. You need to know a thing about negotiation, too, as we re-contract annually. Ultimately we’re responsible for the performance of the holidays in the destinations we manage, so there’s a lot of numbers and interpreting data, staying alert for trends within the market and being able to adapt quickly.
How would you summarise the goal of the team at British Airways Holidays?
To provide customers with the most competitively priced package holidays in any one destination, with a curated range of hotels that will ensure an enjoyable holiday.
Olivia checks in: Fairmont San Francisco
Tell us your top three favourite hotels from your region
Fairmont San Francisco
I’ve been lucky enough to stay here a few times – for work and leisure – and as soon as you arrive, you’re hit with the old-style grandeur. It’s in such an historic building, and the hotel has so much charm. I love the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar – a must visit if you’re in San Fran. Location-wise, it’s the only place in the city where the three different cable car lines meet. It ticks all the boxes for me.
Again, so much history and a hotel that simply couldn’t be in a better spot. Right opposite Mann’s Chinese Theatre on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you walk out of the hotel and you are right in the thick of it all, which I just love. The hotel itself, though, feels like a total retreat – the pool area is a little oasis. Plus, for Hollywood, it’s really good value, too…
I need my fingers and toes to count the number of times I’ve been to Vegas, but Bellagio keeps me coming back. The foyer on arrival is a spectacle, as is the Bellagio Conservatory, which does a different display for each season. A recent refurb makes the fountain view rooms the place to be, and the pools are pretty special, too.
What has been the biggest challenge Covid-19 has presented for you and your work?
I have to say, our leadership team has been remarkable and steered us in the right direction from day one. Our main priority has been to assist our customers, from issuing and redeeming vouchers to updating our hotel content with any facility changes. I could go on forever with the tasks we’ve all pitched in with – in fact, a lot of my ‘day job’ has taken a back seat.
What do you do to switch off?
I’m very fortunate as I live in a lovely part of the Surrey Hills, where nothing beats getting outside and taking my dog for a walk. I also love reading and delving into a good TV series – I was late to the party watching Game of Thrones and I was the dictionary definition of binge watching when I got into it. Of course, going on holiday is my ultimate ‘off switch’. I won’t take travelling for granted ever again!
“I would stay at a different hotel every night of a five- or six-night trip”
How do you choose the hotels?
As well as properties in key locations, we need a broad selection of large hotel chains, boutiques and independent offerings. We then make sure we have hotels suited to all types of traveller, plus a range of budgets. Hotels must pass our health and safety requirements. They need to be of a high standard – not necessarily five-star – but exhibit exceptionally high levels of cleanliness, accommodation and service.
Do you get to stay in them?
I would estimate I’ve stayed in 200-250 hotels for work. And that really is a guess, as in some places I would stay in the same hotel for the entire stay, but in others I’d stay at a different hotel every night of a five- or six-night trip. Last time I travelled for work was February 2020, where I would average visiting around six hotels per day. When this feature comes out I’ll have just come back from my first work trip since the pandemic to Las Vegas. Safe to say, I can’t wait.