Branson leads poll of travel’s top names

Sir Richard Branson is the best-known name in travel among consumers, who rate the Virgin boss by far the most influential in the industry.

Research for Travel Weekly suggested 89% of UK adults recognise Branson and 77% rate him as the industry’s most-influential figure.

TV’s Michael Palin was the only person to come near Branson, scoring 78% on recognition. Barely one-third (32%) thought that Palin was influential.

EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou came third on both counts: recognised by 48% of respondents and rated a key player by 29%. By contrast, easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall was recognised by 6% and considered influential by 7%.

Explore Research asked 500 adults who they recognised among 14 of the top names in travel and who they thought had influence.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary came out ahead of former British Airways boss Willie Walsh as a name people know, recognised by 37% to Walsh’s 33%. Yet Walsh was seen as having more influence, behind Stelios on 23%. Travel pundit Simon Calder also scored highly on recognition (30%), as did hotelier Sir Rocco Forte (25%).

No other name in the industry scored highly on recognition, including Abta chairman John McEwan, Thomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green, Tui Travel boss Peter Long, former tourism minister John Penrose, veteran tour operator Harry Goodman or Sandals boss Butch Stewart.

However, consumers rated the influence of McEwan and Green in double figures (10%). Interestingly, young adults (aged 18-34) showed the greatest recognition of McEwan (16%). More than half of older respondents recognised O’Leary and Walsh, two-thirds Haji-Ioannou and 98% Branson.

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