The ethos of lastminute.com is simple – a five-star lifestyle for three-star cash.
It all started back in the early nineties when a then unknown Mr. Brent Hoberman, eager to impress the ladies, would try his luck with several flash hotels to get the top suite at a knock-down price for that evening.
By calling on the day of the booking Brent was successful in his quest, so not only did he get the room but he got the girl too. And from here on, the idea for lastminute.com was born. He decided everyone should be able to live a five-star lifestyle for three-star cash.
Brent later joined forces with entrepreneurial dynamo 'in-the-making' Martha Lane-Fox and lastminute.com became more than just an idea, growing to sell a full range of lifestyle and travel products when it started trading in October 1998.
Anything from theatre tickets to holidays was available to the public.
The journey so far
Since its launch in 1998, lastminute.com has grown into a worldwide business employing 1981 staff and is one of the most successful travel corporations on the planet.
In March 2000, lastminute.com floated on the London Stock Exchange. The funds raised were used to fund an acquisition shopping spree, which included:
In May 2005, lastminute.com was purchased by Travelocity, part of the Sabre family of travel companies.
Sabre, now owned by venture capitalist Texas Silverlake Partnership, is a leading travel technology company that powers the travel industry with its fleet of products including its flights distribution tool.
Lastminute.com founder, Brent Hoberman, stepped down as CEO in May 2006 to become company chairman. Ian McCaig, joined lastminute.com in 2003 as Chief Operating Officer from Nokia, and later stepped in to replace Hoberman’s CEO role.
president lastminute.com group
Matthew became president of our European business in August 2011 and leads lastminute.com, Europe’s largest online travel and leisure business and holiday autos, the award-wining leisure car-rental brand.
He is responsible for ensuring that lastminute.com and holiday autos remain amongst the most successful businesses in the ever changing travel and lifestyle sector. To do so, our brands need to promise and then deliver something different than any other. Along with the European-wide team he leads, Matthew is committed to building trust and loyalty amongst our customers by providing them with relevant travel and leisure experiences backed up by indispensible and valuable customer care.
A new recruit to lastminute.com Matthew came to us with extensive online travel sector experience having previously been Expedia’s Senior Vice President of Lodging, where he was instrumental in building their global hotels inventory and business. While there he also served as European VP in their partner services team responsible for developing relationships with airline, car rental, rail and tour operator partners. He also managed the integration of Venere following Expedia’s acquisition.
Before being lured to promoting travel and leisure brands in the online space, Matthew was global business development director for Nestle handling their relationship with Tesco worldwide. He started his career receiving classic sales and marketing training from Procter & Gamble where he was responsible for developing a portfolio of b2C brands ranging from crisps to cat food.
Comfortable in a multi-cultural environment and with experience spanning both developed and emerging markets, Matthew has lived and worked in the UK, US, France and Switzerland but his heart belongs to France. Bi-lingual, he received an ERASMUS diploma at the IECS Business School in Strasbourg. He also spends much of his spare time there either in his mountain chalet in the Haute Savoie region or skiing and mountain walking.
vice president partner marketing, managing director holiday autos group
With 19 years worth of experience in the hotel industry, Alistair settled straight into the team as VP for partner marketing where he takes the lead on developing our relationships with hotel groups and other suppliers such as airlines, car rental companies, rail providers and our cruise offering. In late 2010 he also assumed responsibility for our holiday autos business, the award-wining leisure car-rental brand. It’s Alistair’s job to ensure we continually improve our service so that we can continue to search the world for the best car hire companies and the best prices so that our customers don't have to.
He first found his feet at Swallow Hotels, in 1992. Alistair began in regional sales, progressed into national sales and, within five years, had created the company's first agency sales department.
From Swallow Hotels, Alistair then moved to Marriott International. He joined Hilton several years later, remaining in sales until his appointment as the company's VP of Partnerships. Alistair then spent the following years accompanying the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 Team from Grand Prix to Grand Prix, making sure their sponsorship returned value for money (and finding time for some fun along the way).
Alistair's favourite travel moment was, much like his season ticket for Wolverhampton Wanderers, a mix of 'spectacular views but sheer pain' – trekking 45km to catch the sun rise over the lost Inca city of Macchu Pichu...amazing!'
chief financial officer
As our chief finance officer and head number-cruncher, it’s up to James to oversee the control, planning, reporting and analysis of lastminute.com finances. He ensures all company assets are safe and secure and that the right financial disciplines and compliance models are in place to support our strategic plans.
It’s also down to James to flag to the senior team the financial implications of any type of new business activity we might be considering. No mean feat when you think of how many ideas or opportunities we keep coming up with!
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1995, James began working his way up the career ladder starting as an Audit Senior at Arthur Anderson. He then spent the next 13 years using his mathematical intellect and deft analytical and forecasting skills improving finance functions for Virgin Interactive, EMI Music and News International before joining lastminute.com group as CFO in October 2008.
James’s favourite holiday moment was being marooned on a beach in Bali for five weeks.
european marketing director
Mark Newton is the chief marketing officer, responsible for the development of the lastminute.com and Holiday Autos brands.
It’s Mark role to ensure that new customers are found, existing ones are retained and that all customers increase their loyalty to our brands. He also takes the lead on how customers are persuaded to buy products, known in the trade as conversion, and overall brand awareness mainly achieved through pan-European digital marketing.
His team is also responsible for the major customer journeys across the website, and the design and use of shared real estate, such as the homepage.
Prior to embarking on the lastminute.com train, and despite a childhood ambition to be a medic and an earlier career in music and broadcasting, Mark built a strong career in marketing holding a variety of executive marketing roles at American Express and WPP.
Mark’s favourite travel moment is an unusual one and involves being so delayed by a famous international airline that he went on to miss several connecting flights, bedding down at various airports along the way, as the airline concerned didn’t follow through with any hotel accommodation. Rather than getting angry at the distinct lack of customer care it re-endorsed his firm belief that developing trust and honouring your commitments are the foundations on which to build a travel brand and customer loyalty.
vice president b2c markets
As b2c vice president, Laurent is responsible for ensuring lastminute.com’s business across Europe performs well and continually strives to inspire its customers and staff 24/7. He was previously responsible for our b2c business in France and was doing such a good job that we asked him to take the lead for the whole of Europe.
It’s Laurent’s role to ensure we continue to grow our leadership position in the European online travel and leisure sector and to do so he oversees all of our European subsidiaries from Norway down to Italy.
Laurent started his career in the banking and insurance industries undertaking a number of financial and commercial management positions. His link and interest in travel began immediately as his first role was in aircraft financing followed by Europ Assistance, the company who offer travellers insurance and assistance when abroad. The travel bug then took him to Look Voyages, France’s leading tour operator, where he spent four years as their vp of sales and marketing. He then joined Orbitz and led their French business for five years.
When not focused on his day job he indulges his passion for sport - you name it he plays it – and can often be found on the tennis court, ski-ing in his native France, sailing or marathon running. He combines his joint love of sport and travel by seeking out new destinations in which to practice and compete.
However his favourite travel moment was when he sailed around some of Croatia's deserted islands, dropping anchor in crystal clear waters and swimming in bays only accessible by boat. It's capital, Dubrovnik, also tops his favourite city break destination list, where he enjoys walking along the city walls.