Walking and activity specialist HF Holidays has appointed Joe Lynch as its new chief executive.
Lynch joins the operator, which recently began to increase its trade sales focus, from Leeds Castle Foundation – where he was commercial director.
Lynch joined the Leeds Castle Foundation in June 2018 from the Youth Hostel Association, where he was commercial director for six years.
From 2008 to 2012, he was marketing director (school, ski and travelbound portfolio) at Tui and he was head of product and marketing at Neilson from 1999 to 2006, between which he had spells with Le Boat.
He starts his new role on Monday January 7. HF Holidays, which carries 60,000 passengers a year, offers both guided and self-guided tours and last year appointed Michelle Laverick from Collette as head of sales and marketing.
Lynch said: “I’m so excited about the role because it’s such a strong fit with my experience. I’ve spent most of my career in the active holidays market, whether it’s walking, cycling or skiing.
HF Holidays is a membership organisation, with more than 39,000 members. It specialises in domestic active holidays but Lynch said he has been tasked with expanding HF Holidays’ outbound product portfolio. It currently offers holidays in 47 countries.
“We will look to add more products in existing destinations and look at new destinations as well,” he said.
The company recently invested £2.7 million in its 18 UK-based country houses, which Lynch said now receive satisfaction levels of more than 98%.
Some of the guided touring trips are led by volunteers, which Lynch said “adds so much to the experience” because the people leading the way are so passionate.
Between its guests and leaders, 1.4 million miles were covered on HF Holidays tours last year.
Lynch said having worked at the YHA gave him a strong background for the top job at HF Holidays, and also outlined his personal passion for active, outdoor holidays – an area he believes is a growing market.
“People’s holiday habits evolve,” he said. “Instead of just going somewhere and ticking it off a list, people are looking genuine, authentic experiences. There’s not better way to explore the places you go on holiday than walking around, meeting local people and visiting places where you can get under the skin of a destination.”