Mick Gibbs, director of industry affairs for the Focus Travel Partnership, pays tribute to former head of Focus Steve Murray, who died this week after a two-year battle with cancer

Photo: Steve Murray receiving the Focus Lifetime Achievement award in 2019, with Mick Gibbs

If the pandemic situation was not bad enough for this industry to cope with, this week added to our sadness with the passing of an industry professional, Steve Murray, who lost his battle with cancer after two years.

Steve was one of the travel industry’s unsung heroes with a long history and success in the TMC community.

Many people who crossed paths with Steve felt the incredible passion and commitment he had for the independent TMC sector. He often advocated for the small and medium sized business travel agents against the hurricane, to ensure their true value was recognised.

His work over the last 18 years has spanned the spectrum of travel management from owner of his own agency through to the inception of what today is the Focus Travel Partnership, the largest independent Group of TMCs in the UK with a staggering combined turnover of £1 billion.

Steve’s stature was like him, larger than life. He had an incredible sense of loyalty and integrity. He had a circle of friends and colleagues that would challenge even the best on the celebrity circuits. He knew everyone’s name, likes and family.

Focus TMC partners owe so much to his commitment to their cause. He created their belief in  challenging the status quo, but he had an ability to remain connected and humble through his associations.

He created the ‘go to’ knowledge pool which the Focus Partnership has become synonymous with.  He never forgot that the partners were his customers first but they became lifelong friends in the process. He was not just respected by the suppliers within the travel ecosystem, but he was truly valued by all who were fortunate enough to work with him.

There are many memories we will all have of Steve and each one will be recounted with a glass of something appropriate when we are all together again either attending a conference; in meetings; on a golf course or just whenever we are able.

However, one thing that we, as his colleagues and friends, will find difficult to come to terms with is the loss of his appetite for life, and the void he has left in our lives. As Focus celebrated turning 20 last year, the Partnership came together to recognise the achievement of a man who had given so much. He was awarded with an Outstanding Achievement Award – and never was an award so justly deserved.

Steve was about family and friends; he was also about fairness and justice for all irrespective of position or size. He was the People’s Champion, creating the next generation of industry protégés. He would be proud to know that his endeavours over the years have benefited so many but sad he was unable to finish the journey he had started.

Steve leaves behind his beloved wife Debbie, who stood by, enabled and supported him and  allowed him the time and space to devote to his career. But he also leaves behind his extended family within the Focus Travel Partnership, and a void within our hearts.

Fly high my friend, I hope you are at the front of the plane, you deserve it!