Simon Daly is the new director of Topflight Worldwide. He lives in Sutton with his partner Karen. Between them, they have four children: Christian (22), Shona (19), Alex and Cian (both 17).
"In the mornings I like to walk my two dogs - Zimba and Bruno - on the beach before the working day begins. This doesn't happen so much in the winter! My commute into town takes about an hour: when it comes to radio stations in the car, I'm a bit of a flicker.
I've been with Topflight for a few months and it's a bit like being the new kid in school. I've come from an airline background - I worked at British Airways (as manager for Ireland) before this - so it's interesting and different to be working at a tour operator. As with most people starting a new job, I was a bit apprehensive, but they're a great bunch of people and I've been having a great time looking after Topflight's worldwide operations. It's a very different job to what I've done before.
I spend a lot of time dealing with airlines and suppliers, producing brochures and setting up long and short-term strategies for the company. I don't go on too many trips myself, although our staff members do get to do an awful lot of travel. They're the ones selling trips to clients, so they need to know the hotels and restaurants personally so that they can recommend them. Ihave one trip coming up in the Maldives, where we have hotels that we deal directly with. You don't exactly get time to lie on the beach; there is work to be done!
Personally, I like the Caribbean, South Africa, and the US when it comes to my own holidays. Karen and I have gone to the US every year for the past eight years. I love Miami and Florida in general. Between us, we have four kids, so we often go away with them all. In my previous job at British Airways I did an awful lot of flying and commuting, so I had it down to a fine art. You have to take the stress levels out of it. Remind yourself that there will always be queues: always check in online and remember that airport security is a fact of life now. You can't get stressed about it. I always took a rucksack on overnight trips to avoid the baggage claim. When I travel now, it's mainly for me, but I'm a big fan of giving yourself some time and leeway at the airport. If it's an evening flight, have a beer or do some shopping, and just enjoy it.
I used to live in Africa as a child, as my father worked for Aer Lingus. He went down to Africa on a management contract so we travelled back and forth an awful lot. Maybe because of that I always wanted to work in the travel business. My first job was in 1986, as an air steward for Ryanair. The thing I like about the travel industry is that there's no two days that are the same. You're in the business of selling dreams to people, and for most Irish families, a holiday is a huge part of their yearly financial spend. We're always adding new destinations to the Topflight brochure; South Africa, South America, China and Costa Rica are new ones that we're doing. South Africa in particular is stunning; it's so many different destinations in one with safari, wine lands, Sun City, and Cape Town to enjoy out there.
I'm a firm believer in a good work-life balance, as are Topflight in general. I'm very focused on getting in on time, leaving when I should leave and making sure I get my work done during the day. I'm a golfer, even if I'm a pretty bad one. I enjoy going to the pub and having an early bird meal; because of where we live, we go to Howth or Malahide a lot. They have some great restaurants and pubs there - I really love Findlaters and Wrights. During the week, we're big believers in sitting down for dinner together as a family. I love watching sport, and the Discovery Channel or the History Channel in the evenings. I love reading murder mysteries and detective-type stuff; right now, I'm reading a book by James Patterson. Sometimes I'll go for a sauna or swim at Westwood.
Some of our key markets around the world are still active in the evening time: the US is five hours behind and key markets in Asia have started the day. I don't really check back in on work at night; I feel it's something that can wait until first thing in the morning. I sleep pretty well for that reason, thanks be to God."
For more information on Topflight holidays, see www.topflight.ie