2018 marks the 40th anniversary of Titan Travel. Here the company’s Managing Director Andy Squirrell tells Donna Eastlake whatʼs next…
In the year that saw cinema audiences fall in love with Danny and Sandy in Grease, and the birth of Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby, two British brothers, who shared a love of travelling the world, decided to launch their own travel company. Forty years, and many thousands of miles travelled later, Titan operates river and ocean tours across the globe and are exploring new destinations every year.
Andy, what have you been doing to celebrate Titan’s 40th anniversary?
We have organised several special cruises and have tours of Australia and New York and a special Christmas cruise to round off the anniversary year. We also held our summer party in July for all our staff. It’s nice to be able to take everyone away, usually to somewhere in the countryside for a night, and have a big celebration. It’s great to get the whole team involved and it’s a chance to say thank you for all their hard work.
How did Titan start?
The company was founded by Irwin and Hugh Ferry, as Titan HiTours, in Reigate, on 6 July 1978. Both were keen travellers who had explored all over the world. They began by running coach tours around the UK and northern Europe. Irwin had previously worked as a journalist so was able to write about the tours eloquently, detailing where travellers would be visiting and bring the destinations to life. I think this made a big difference to how people saw our tours.
We introduced the door-to-door VIP service to our customers in the 1980s. This personalised service had not been offered before and it was the start of the complete travel package offered by Titan. That was a big moment for the company as it really defined what we wanted to offer our customers and has really shaped how the company has developed.
It was in the 1990s that Titan decided to branch out into cruise travel. We began working with cruise lines to charter ships around Europe and then the world, and it’s grown from there.
How has the cruise industry changed since Titan started offering cruises?
Our customers want and ask for increasingly personalised trips. The world has become a lot more accessible, so destination requests have become more and more adventurous and unusual. We now run cruise tours to Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, and new destinations are opening up all the time. And we have our two dedicated river cruise ships, MS Bellejour and MS Serenade 1.
You charter MS Serenade 1 and MS Bellejour. Are there any plans to build your own ships?
It’s an obvious progression for us as a company. Unfortunately, I’m not able to disclose any further details at this stage but it is certainly something we hope to achieve in the coming years.
How do you choose which destinations to travel to?
We get a lot of feedback from customers on where they want to go next and why. And we get feedback from our tour managers. Plus, our product managers travel the world and research potential destinations to see how we could develop a tour there. It takes six months to a year to develop a new tour, but it’s worth the effort, for the quality of the tour.
Destinations can go in and out of fashion. China is big at the moment. There are other places which are always popular; California has been in the top ten for the last 25 years and shows no sign losing popularity.
How do you encourage first-timers to book a cruise?
We run regular events where people can come and learn all about cruise travel. We introduce them to all the fantastic opportunities available to cruise passengers. It’s a way of broadening people’s understanding and encouraging them to give river
or ocean cruising a try.
What advice would you give to a first-time cruiser?
Work out what your priorities are. What is most important to you? Is it the type of ship – the size, the style – or is it where you go? When you’ve decided that you can start planning.
Tell us about Titan’s Perfect Moments Shared.
It’s all about celebrating shared experiences. People choose to travel to experience something new and we think that those experiences can be even more special in a group. It’s like going to a football match or a concert, it becomes more special when you’re enjoying it with other people.
You’ll remember the things you least expect as you’ll be making new friends and trying new things together.
You must get to travel a lot, where is your favourite destination?
Probably California. We visited San Francisco and explored some of the national parks. Kenya is amazing too. The landscape is just incredible, and the people are wonderful. I really want to climb Kilimanjaro. I’ll have to go back and do it at some point.
Where would you like to visit most in the world?
I’d love to go to South Africa. I really want to visit Cape Town and climb Table Mountain. I’ve heard really great things about the country so that’s definitely on my list. I really want to go to Peru too and do the Inca Trail, see Machu Picchu.
And what would you like to see happening with Titan next?
I want Titan to continue with the success it’s been having. Ultimately, we want to continue to develop and grow and continue offering customers a high level of service. We love what we do, and we think we do it best.