The Inspiring Life of Paul Stanyer Founder of

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When Paul Stanyer passed O levels in 10 subjects, he became
so confident of his ability to do well at A levels that he
decided to take five of them. He ended up passing just one –
in art. He says: ‘I just took on too much. I thought I could
breeze through them but I overextended myself.’
It was not an ideal situation to be in. One of five children,
Stanyer lived in the northern industrial town of Consett
where thanks to the closure of the steelworks there was
40 per cent unemployment.
His father, who worked for British Telecom, decided that
Stanyer should take an accountancy foundation course at
the local polytechnic. But before the course started Stanyer
went to stay with his sister in Spain who was working there
as a rep for a holiday company. He says: ‘I saw how much
fun she was having and I thought, hold on a minute. I could
spend four years in a classroom or could I get into this life-
style.’ So he abandoned the polytechnic place, enrolled on a
Spanish course and the following summer got a job on a
caravan park in Spain.

He hated it. He says: ‘I was so lonely. It was three weeks
before I saw another English person. The other thing I
hadn’t taken into account was having to clean all these
caravans after every departure. My mother had struggled
to get me to clean my bedroom for 20 years so it was all a
bit much.’
Luckily his sister came to the rescue again, and told him
that a holiday company in Greece was looking for reps.
Within a few weeks Stanyer was in Corfu. This time he
loved it. ‘I was in a Mediterranean resort where every night
was Saturday night, they gave me a brand new apartment
to live in and a motorbike – and they were paying me. It
was fabulous.’
Stanyer spent the following two summers working in
Corfu but when a holidaymaker at the resort died after
drinking too much he decided it was time for a change. He
says: ‘He was 21, the same age as me at the time. I just
thought enough is enough.’

So he returned to the UK and got a job as an area sales
manager for the same company. By the time he was 24 he
had been promoted to national sales manager. He soon
realised though that the corporate world was not for him.
He says: ‘I was earning good money and had a company
car but I was fed up with driving round the M25 and I
thought there was more to life than having strategy meet-
ings and going to conferences. I decided I was too young to
be in this position at this stage in my life and that there was
a lot more fun to be had.’
Within a few months the decision of whether to leave his
job was taken for him when the company merged with
another firm and he was made redundant. He spent the next
10 months playing golf and wondering what to do next.
Then he headed back to Greece to be a manager for another
holiday company and ended up staying eight years, working
his way up the company.
At the age of 34, however, he was made redundant for a
second time. He says: ‘I was totally stunned. It really was a
case of what do I do now?’ He came back to the UK but
struggled to get a job. He says: ‘It was incredible how much
my life overseas was devalued. I was regional manager for
large holiday companies with multi-million pound budgets

– and I got back and people thought I had been a holiday
He decided it might be better to start up a business of his
own. He says: ‘I decided that I didn’t want to be working
until I was 65 and then be given a carriage clock. And I didn’t
want to be stuck in an office answering to some idiot who I
didn’t even like. I wanted a bit more choice in my life.’
He initially toyed with the idea of doing something that
involved golf. He says: ‘Golf is one of my passions in life but
after a few months of researching the market I decided that
there was just way too much competition.’
It was while having a few drinks in the pub with a couple
of former colleagues that he came up with his big idea. The
three of them started talking about how tour operators had
recently started charging people to use their transfer buses
to take them from the airport to their hotels. Stanyer decided
he could offer a better, faster service by providing taxis to
take people to their holiday resorts instead. He says: ‘I
thought it was outrageous for tour operators to charge for
transfers because it meant that it was not a package holiday
any more.’

Both his former colleagues thought it was a great idea too
and over the next few days Stanyer, with the help of one of
his colleagues, registered several possible website addresses
for the company including
He then did absolutely nothing at all about his idea. It was
six months later, when he was doing some consultancy work
for a fledgling hotel company, when he suddenly realised
that his transfer service idea could have bigger potential
than he had initially thought. He realised that his taxi trans-
fers could appeal to the growing number of independent
travellers as well.
He says: ‘When I saw the way the market was heading I
had a major rethink of the whole thing. It became apparent to
me that there were two market sectors to attack – there were
those people who were dissatisfied with coach transfers and

those people who were travelling independently. I thought if
I don’t do this, and quickly, then somebody else will figure
this out and do it.’
Others, however, were not convinced it was a good idea.
When Stanyer presented his business plan to a travel
company which he thought might be interested in becoming
an investor, he got short shrift. He says: ‘I had an investment
meeting with the only person who was willing to talk to me
and I was actually laughed out of the office. He told me it
was never going to make any money, that I was wasting my
time and should do something else.’
Eventually, one of his former colleagues who liked the
idea put Stanyer in touch with some Indonesian investors
who agreed to put in £100,000 in return for a 50 per cent
stake in the company. Then Stanyer found a technology
company to build the website and gave them a stake instead
of paying them, leaving him with 20 per cent. He says:
‘I didn’t have any money myself so it was a case of having
100 per cent of nothing or 20 per cent of something that was
now a project.’

He launched the website in March 2003 and by May a
thousand travel agents had registered. But in June Stanyer
hit a problem. He says: ‘I had totally underestimated the
demand for vehicle sizes other than taxis. Our website would
only allow people to book a taxi so we had to take the book-
ings for other vehicles over the telephone. We were in danger
of becoming a call centre – which defeated the objective of
being a technology-based solution.’
After much agonising Stanyer decided that rather than
bolt on new technology to his existing website, it would be
more sensible to rebuild it entirely. As a result he was not
able to promote the company until it was fully functioning.
He has since made up for lost time. In 2010 Holidaytaxis.
com is expected to have sales of £21 million and currently
operates in more than 70 countries. Stanyer has also launched
two related companies –, which provides

corporate transfers, and Destination Care, an in-resort repre-
sentation service for independent travellers.
He also has one other idea which he hopes to start turning
into a reality soon. He says: ‘I am a great observer in life. I
see things and think about how they could be improved. I
just can’t help myself.’
Now 44 and partnered with two children, he says: ‘What
motivates me is that I want to be the master of my own
destiny. I don’t want to spend three hours a day in my car
driving round the M25. And I don’t want to rely on working
for someone else to make me rich or happy. I want to have
control of my life.’

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