Virgin travel arm hires ex-Amex chief

Virgin Travelstore, the newly created travel retail arm of Virgin Group, has hired former American Express marketer Katie Handley as its new marketing director, as it prepares to launch a pounds 1m ad push in January.

Virgin Travelstore, the newly created travel retail arm of Virgin Group, has hired former American Express marketer Katie Handley as its new marketing director, as it prepares to launch a pounds 1m ad push in January.

Handley was working as a freelance marketing consultant for six months before joining Virgin Travelstore. Her previous job was at American Express, where she was director of membership rewards with responsibility for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

She has also worked at Virgin Atlantic, where she was in charge of managing the airline's global frequent flyer programme and developing partner relationships.

Handley will report to managing director of Virgin Travelstore Ed Sims, a former sales and marketing director of Airtours. Sims also holds the position of deputy managing director at Virgin.com.

Virgin Travelstore launched last month (Marketing, November 11) and will sell package holidays and independent travel through Virgin's 120 V.Shops as well as via digital TV, Teletext and the web at Virgin.com.

Handley's first job will be to carry out a strategic marketing review.

She will be looking to build brand awareness for the first six months.

In the summer, Virgin hired Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters to handle the Travelstore advertising account, understood to be worth up to pounds 5m. An initial pounds 1m ad push will launch in January, although Virgin declined to reveal what media would be used.



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