The former SuperBreak sales director, who lost his battle with cancer last month, was an 'absolute professional' as well as one-half of travel's best-loved comedy double act
Ian Mounser will be best remembered in the industry for his 23 years at SuperBreak.
Ian, who leaves wife Elizabeth and son Stephen, 21, died on April 28 at the age of 60 after a long battle with cancer that followed his retirement from the short-break operator in 2011.
The fond tributes that have poured in since Ian’s death are testament to the former sales director’s popularity and the high esteem in which he was held by so many during a travel career spanning 30 years.
Ian grew up in Nottinghamshire, attending West Bridgford Grammar School, and began his career as a management trainee at Boots in 1972.
He obtained a degree in economics at Birmingham University and in 1978 became a teacher of A-level economics and mathematics at North Cestrian Grammar School in Altrincham.
In an interview with Travel Weekly in 2011, Ian recalled his decision to switch to sales after being offered a lift to school by a pupil because he couldn’t afford a car. “I thought if I got into sales, I could get a company car,” he said.
After a failed interview at OSL Holidays and Wings Holidays, Ian was surprised to get a call three months later saying he’d got the job. “I never found out why I was asked back,” he said.
Ian worked as agency sales manager for the company from 1981 to 1987, before a stint as incentive travel sales manager for Trusthouse Forte Hotels.
In 1988 he became national sales manager at SuperBreak and was promoted to sales director in 1997 – a role he held until retiring four years ago.
During his tenure, Ian dealt with major events affecting holiday sales, from the IRA’s London bombings to foot-and-mouth disease, and the business went through a management buyout and acquisition.
In total, he spent more than 25 years in senior management or director-level roles, including three years as chairman of the Truly Independent Professional Travel Organisation. Even after retiring, Ian set up his own consultancy, The Improvement Mill.
It was his meticulous, hard-working nature and determination to ‘get the job done’ that those who worked with Ian remember best.
Nick Cust, former joint managing director of SuperBreak, remembers him as an “absolute professional” who “led from the front”.And those who negotiated deals with Ian recall it was essential to “prepare, prepare, prepare”.
But Ian also loved to have fun too. Together with SuperBreak colleague Graham Balmforth, he formed the trade’s most‑renowned comedy double-act. The duo were first persuaded to dress up, as the Men in Black, for a Going Places conference in 1999, and again a month later as TV funnymen Hale and Pace at an Advantage conference in Portugal.
After that, there was no stopping them. The double-act became one of the most popular events at Advantage conferences – delegates would ring in advance to find out which dine-around was being hosted by the pair, who over the years also dressed up as ‘Pava and Rotti’ (Pavarotti) and ‘Ozzy and Sharon’ (Osbourne).
But above all, Ian was a family man, devoted to his wife and son, of whom he was very proud. He was also a talented golfer, cricketer and footballer.
After retiring, Ian embarked on a coast-to-coast walk from Cumbria to Yorkshire, raising more than £2,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. Fittingly, Ian’s wife has reactivated that fund for those who wish to give in his memory. Go to: justgiving.com/Ian-Mounser
Tributes to Ian
“He was a gentleman and a nice person to deal with, as well as a doting family man.” - Julia Lo Bue-Said, Advantage Travel Partnership
“The saying ‘under-promise, over-deliver’ could have been invented for Ian. He lived and breathed sales success. But for a small chap, Ian could snore for Britain – he could lift the roof.” - Nick Cust, non-executive chairman, Great Rail Journeys and Leisure Pass Group
“He would speak to a junior member of staff as nicely as to a board director. Ian had no edge to him. So many of his team loved him.” - Graham Balmforth, national sales manager, SuperBreak
“Many will fondly remember his remarkable contribution to the famous Going Places conferences. He was good at golf and a marvellous host, and everyone who knew him will miss him – a lot.” - Peter Shanks
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