Today’s fast-paced business landscape brings with it a host of daily challenges. From reacting to advancements in technology affecting your industry, organisation and leadership to aligning employees with your company’s mission, the multifaceted role of a CEO brings with it a wealth of challenges.
So, when it comes to having a well-deserved break, how can those in senior positions make the absolute most of their time away from the office?
Switching off from business is hard, especially when you are the CEO. To offer insight into this predicament, Katina Hristova speaks to Phil Nuttall, CEO of the award-winning cruise specialist River Cruising, to get the lowdown on top destinations, where like-minded, senior staff can get the absolute best out of their breaks from the office.
Could you give us a bit of background about yourself and your role at River Cruising?
Having spent all of my working life in the travel industry and seeing the growth of ocean cruising, I soon realised that river cruising had the potential to experience huge growth. Therefore, 10 years ago, partly encouraged by my passion for the rivers of the world and the destinations that are accessible from them, I decided to buy the name RiverCruising.co.uk. The rest, as they say, is history, as we are now recognised as the UK’s River Cruise Experts with a Feefo Gold Status for customer care.
What would you say the biggest stresses are for someone in your position?
Having the responsibility of making dreams come true. Finding the perfect holiday and then delivering outstanding pre- and post-holiday customer service is very complex.
Between booking and travelling there are so many elements that the business has to
deal with to ensure everything runs smoothly for our valued clients. This is extremely stressful because we live in a world that is very different from the one I grew up in and things change globally on a daily basis.
The other stress is wanting my team to be happy in their work! I cannot help but stress about this – probably because I see them more as friends than colleagues. I know it’s probably not the norm, but we are a fourth-generation family business and I am extremely proud of that.
What would be your top river destination for CEOs to visit and why?
One of my favourites has to be the Danube. When you ask anyone about taking a river cruise, invariably they speak about sailing down the Danube. It is iconic and probably the starting point for first-time river cruisers. Passing through 10 countries, it also offers the chance to experience more different cultures on one trip than any other river cruise holiday.
What would be your “hot destination” for current European River Cruising?
The Douro in Portugal is the current “hot property” in European river cruising. It’s relatively new; until recently, the ships that sailed the Douro were older and the choice was extremely limited.
More recently, however, we have seen all the major river cruise lines investing in new ships that have been built to represent their brands and ensure continuity across their fleet. A highlight of this cruise is the excursion across the border into Spain to visit Salamanca.
Do you have any top must-see bucket-list destinations?
The Yangtze has to be on the list because China is on most people’s bucket list. Having been there twice and sailed along the Yangtze, I can speak first-hand about this historic river.
Aside from the history of the Yangtze, you will be in bucket-list heaven if you plan carefully and include the pandas in Chengdu, the Terracotta Warriors in Xian (a very moving experience), the Great Wall of China and of course the metropolis of Shanghai, to name just a few.
What about destinations for explorers?
The Irrawaddy River that runs north to south through Myanmar offers the chance to see some of the most beautiful scenery but also the chance to bring out the inner explorer in people. This is right up there in terms of what I would call “soft adventure” touring.
What break would you recommend for cruising first-timers?
As well as the Danube, I must mention the Rhine. This destination is perfect for river cruises of four to ten days. It ranges from tulip time in Holland to discovering towns and villages from Amsterdam to Bamberg or, more commonly, Nuremberg, the joining point for passengers sailing back to Amsterdam or onward along the Danube.
This destination also offers the most affordable entry into river cruising.
What would be the ultimate destination for you to escape to and why?
I absolutely love Scotland and the Scottish Highlands. For me it’s not about how far I can travel or how exotic it may be; it’s about escaping.
Having only been as far north as the top of Loch Lomond, I am hooked and the fact that Scotland has such good road, rail and ferry connections makes it the perfect place to get away and hide away. Being the boss, everyone wants to speak to you and having to find an answer and solution to a question seven days a week takes its toll.
The nature, scenery and hospitality of Scotland, where I have time to think, be quiet and reflect, would be my ultimate destination.