Comment: Handing over my baby is tough – but it’s time for fun on the farm

Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan reflects on his career in travel after selling his business to Hays Travel

The day was always going to come, but I don’t think I could have ever prepared myself properly for it.

Last week, I sold my baby, my life of 18 years and a business I will always be so proud of: Miles Morgan Travel. I knew that, one day, I would want to spend more time with my family and behave more like my customers, with less time behind a desk. That time is now.

Having left corporate life in 2006, things became very different, very quickly. No big salary, no backup team, no one but me. The business plan went pear‑shaped in year one – stressful doesn’t even begin to cover it. But from then on, we were on it.

Success and awards followed, and I could not have had more fun doing anything else. The reason I loved it was simple: the people I worked with. Our suppliers supported us brilliantly and we built the most fabulous relationships with them over the years. We truly loved them and it was a proper team effort.

The other main element was, of course, what I called the crown jewels: team MMT. Led by the most amazing human being, Mandy Shillito, many of them did the full 18 years with me.

What made me so proud was the fact that we achieved incredible success the right way. By that, I mean we treated each other with respect. We laughed and mucked around continually, but when it came to sales and customers, we were A1 professional and steely determined to succeed and win in everything we did.

Team of winners

Achieving those two things is not easy. People can get lazy or complacent when it comes to the serious stuff after larking around, but team MMT never did that. They were a team of winners. I can assure you, there was no prouder feeling than seeing them at work, reading their fantastic Feefo reviews for their service or getting first-hand feedback from customers.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Irene and the team at Hays Travel for buying my baby. I wish you further success. You have bought the very best in the fabulous team at MMT. I am so proud to hand over now, having just recorded the best April in our 18-year history.

Inspirational mentors

As I enter retirement, it’s only right to thank those who have had a huge impact on my career. First, in my early days in travel, Kevin Abbey at Bakers Dolphin. Kev taught me how to do marketing and the huge value of PR; he was a king at both and made it appear so easy. He also showed me you could muck around and have a laugh at work – and still be incredibly successful.

I then had the influence of a Welsh whirlwind, Martin Morgan from Travel House. Martin gave me confidence to take risks, to trust my gut feeling and to believe in my own ability.

He was responsible for me having the guts to start MMT and also to buy a high street department store in Chepstow as an impulse purchase (not popular with the wife). Both were a huge success.

Finally, I must mention John Hays. Those first two years at MMT were super‑tough and John kept me going. I spent one night a month for six years drinking beer and playing snooker with John.

He had no idea the pearls of wisdom he passed to me during those fun evenings. He was a master of business simplicity: know your business, know the key measures, track them closely and, most importantly, deliver them with brilliance and consistency. Sadly, I will never have the chance to say this to him face-to-face.

Right, now what to do with my time? Muck out the donkeys, cuddle a sheep and watch the alpacas birthing. That’s summer sorted at least. Maybe I’ll take a holiday in the autumn.

As another stage of life begins, I will celebrate the fact I am still here to enjoy it! Let’s go…

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