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House Of Travel Announces Industry Veteran As New CEO

House of Travel Holdings is delighted to announce the appointment of highly respected travel industry veteran David Coombes, as its new chief executive officer, effective 14 May.

The Board’s decision to appoint Coombes will further enhance the Group’s thriving businesses across New Zealand and Australia - businesses which see their partnerships, people and culture as the basis for their success. David’s reputation as a strong leader, who embraces innovation, supports the Board’s confidence in his ability to steer the Group towards continued improvement.

House of Travel Holdings Chairman Keith Sutton says, “We conducted an extensive international search for this position and the board was extremely happy with the exceptional talent that applied. It speaks volumes of House of Travel’s brand awareness and its reputation. We are thrilled that David accepted the position, as a result of his knowledge, experience and his well cemented relationships within the travel industry, he will hit the ground running.”

Coombes is well known in the travel industry with almost 23 years’ experience, holding high-profile positions, including managing director of Flight Centre Travel Group in New Zealand.

Founder of House of Travel, Chris Paulsen, describes Coombes as a highly respected and well-liked leader within the New Zealand travel sector.

“David has shown unwavering passion for the travel industry over many decades, but his leadership and commitment particularly stood out, and benefitted the entire travel industry, during the global pandemic when on behalf of the travel industry he led negotiations with the Government,” Paulsen says.

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“He has a proven track record as an exemplary leader and a deep understanding of the industry and we believe it is his leadership acumen and strong relationships that make him the ideal person to lead our dynamic executive team, continuing to drive House of Travel’s solid performance.”

Since resigning from Flight Centre, Coombes has spent the last year recharging his batteries, focusing on upskilling his governance skills through the Institute of Directors in New Zealand, whilst also providing strategic direction and governance as an independent director and enjoying time with his children. During this time, Coombes was often asked if he would ever return to the travel industry. Ironically, Coombes said House of Travel was the brand and business he would most like to work for if the opportunity ever came up.

“I can’t tell you how pumped I am to be coming back into an industry that I am so passionate about,” says Coombes. “I have always respected House of Travel and Chris Paulsen’s vision as its founder, this opportunity could not be better timed.

“House of Travel is a much-loved brand with a phenomenal reputation for its outstanding partnerships and a customer-centric focus. They are a proudly New Zealand owned company, renowned for a fantastic team culture, depth of travel expertise and highly successful owner-operator brands and models across retail, corporate, broker and digital channels that operate throughout New Zealand and Australia. Through Covid, consumers saw firsthand the value travel agents and a trusted brand provide - it’s an exciting time to be in travel.”

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