Interview with Tim Taylor, group head of reward at TUI Travel

Tim Taylor, group head of reward at TUI Travel, is keen to spread the best aspects of the organisation’s UK-based benefits to its workforce across the globe

Tim Taylor, group head of reward at TUI Travel, may work for a travel business, but that doesn’t lessen the challenges of providing reward and benefits for employees based overseas.

FTSE 350-listed TUI Travel has about 53,000 staff working across more than 200 brands in 180 countries, so Taylor’s task is considerable.

“We are a UK-based organisation and our business was grown from a UK business originally,” he says. “So it is a challenge to try to think with a global view, trying to establish a level of consistency with the flexibility that allows individual businesses, jurisdictions and nationalities to meet the needs of their own source market as well. At the moment we are in the middle of looking at areas where we can try to align activity more consistently, but also how we can offer flexibility.”

Taylor, who in his free time enjoys trips to the beach near his Brighton home with his three young children, must also factor in executive compensation and rewards for the organisation’s senior staff across the globe,
as well as support for expatriate employees.

But he is well-versed in the needs of the business, having been involved when TUI Travel was created from the merger of First Choice Holidays and the tourism division of TUI AG in September 2007.

He also has the advantage of having previously worked for both organisations. He was HR business partner at First Choice before the merger and was head of reward and recognition and head of HR integration at TUI Travel before landing his current role.

Before joining First Choice, Taylor worked for supermarket chain Lidl as head of HR, and before that he was HR manager for south of England-based electrical retailer Tempo.

Reward initiative

“Coming from an HR background, I have been involved in reward-based projects throughout my career, but I guess principally it has given me a strong understanding of what makes implementation of a reward initiative successful,” he says. “Having worked as a generalist and being an HR business partner supporting a client group from an HR generalist perspective, I am very aware of the challenges of implementing some of the ideas.

“I can converse with my colleagues who are in the wider HR function and talk their language and understand the challenges they may be facing in bringing some of the benefits and rewards initiatives through.”

One of the major challenges Taylor has faced in the past year has been the consolidation of TUI’s six defined benefit (DB) pension schemes into three DB schemes, which generated £40 million savings for the business.

He is now concentrating on devising a communications strategy to communicate TUI Travel’s reward package to employees, particularly those working outside the UK.

Taylor sees the international aspect of his role as a major driver in his career, and an important factor in his ambitions. “I want to continue to take forward the reward agenda for a growing international business,” he says. “To really think about how we can take what we have, some of the great work that has been done in the UK in reward, and see how that can be replicated in some of the new markets we are moving into.”

Tim Taylor will speak on pensions at Employee Benefits Live on 26 September at National Hall, Olympia, London.

Curriculum vitae

January 2012-present group head of reward, TUI Travel

2002-2011 head of reward and recognition and head of HR integration, TUI Travel

2001-2002 HR business partner, First Choice

1999-2001 head of HR, Lidl

1997-1999 HR manager, Tempo


What do you do in your spare time? I have three young children and we live on the coast in Brighton, so we enjoy the South Downs and sea-based activities.

What is your favourite benefit? Our travel discount and concession benefits are certainly key. I think when people come to the business who haven’t been involved in travel previously, they find this is something that is a great benefit and that gives us something to use as a differentiator. I think it is a nice benefit. It is one that when you talk to individuals about it, it tends to be the one people are immediately very switched on to. When you talk to someone about pensions, it is slightly less exciting for them on an individual basis, but the opportunity to have a discount on a holiday is something everyone can buy into.

What is the best lesson you have learnt in HR? Seeking views and taking soundings from a wide range of individuals, particularly if you are thinking about making a change or implementing something new.

Read more about careers in reward and benefits