Holiday Extras introduces new benefits strategy to align with business goals

Travel and leisure organisation Holiday Extras has introduced a new benefits strategy to align reward and benefits with its new brand image and a five-year business growth plan.

Its new approach to benefits, which launched in March 2017, reflects new business branding around adventure and exploring the world in a feet-first fashion. It has a travel-centric focus and prompts employees to own their benefits, with everything they need available at their fingertips. This is demonstrated in a visual, holiday brochure-style employee pack, which details all the components of Holiday Extras reorganised benefits offering.

Its new benefits strategy, which centres¬†around its flexible benefits scheme, divides¬†its benefits into three key pillars, Plan Ahead, Road to Wellbeing and Good for the Soul, to help signpost the organisation’s 650 employees to the most relevant and useful benefits options for them.

Emma Tanton-Brown, reward executive at Holiday Extras, says: ‚Äú[We] can‚Äôt [categorise] people into certain benefits now. […] It‚Äôs really about offering flexibility and choice. Everybody goes through a different path in life and they all want something different, so that‚Äôs why we‚Äôve introduced three new categories for benefits.‚ÄĚ

The first category, Plan Ahead, is aimed at helping employees plan for their future. It features the workplace pension options available and childcare vouchers, as well as group risk benefits, such as life assurance, critical illness insurance and group income protection.

The second category, Good for the Soul, is all about lifestyle and activities that employees can enjoy outside of work. This category promotes benefits such as charitable giving, a holiday buy scheme, and restaurant dining discount cards, as well as Holiday Extras’ own social club, which provides access to discounts on day trips and event tickets.

The final category is the Road to Wellbeing, which highlights the benefits staff can utilise to manage their health. This includes healthcare- and fitness-related benefits such as a health cash plan, dental insurance, private medical insurance (PMI), bikes for work, and an employee assistance programme (EAP).

The new strategy is aimed at enhancing staff motivation and retention, as well as attracting new talent to the business to further support its growth.

‚ÄúWe wanted to set ourselves up in the best possible position for the next five years, so we had to really reflect on the reward offering and what we currently had in place,‚ÄĚ says Tanton-Brown. ‚ÄúIt goes back to the attraction, the reward and the retaining piece. [We] want the best possible people, [and we] want them to stay, so [we] need to have a great offering in place in order to grow [the] business.‚ÄĚ

Although Holiday Extras’ previous benefits strategy also had these over-arching ambitions around¬†staff motivation and recruitment, the¬†re-design was intended to help employees re-engage with their benefits, says Tanton-Brown.

The strategy before was, and still is, around continuing to attract, retain and motivate the very best, that is always our over-arching strategy as a people team,” she explains. “Our benefits played a role in doing that. It was and continues to be a big draw for people and a reason they join us. The teams were ready for a change, [and] a reason to engage with their benefits again; we have teams who want things quick and easy¬†and now they will have it.”¬†

Measuring the impact

Alongside the implementation of its new benefits strategy, Holiday Extras also launched a new reward hub after switching flexible benefits provider. The hub, provided and administered by Benefex, will feature an consumer-style shopping basket, as well as a monthly total reward statement to enhance¬†employees’ understanding of the value of their total reward package.

The new system will also enable the organisation to better measure which benefits employees are selecting and gauge which are most valued by staff, says Tanton-Brown.

Employee communication 

Holiday Extras promotes its reward and benefits offering through a¬†communication strategy that targets employees as soon as they are offered a position at the business.¬†‚ÄúFrom offer and acceptance to when people start can be as [long]¬†as three months, so [we] want to keep people interested and excited about joining,‚ÄĚ says Tanton-Brown.

The organisations sends two emails to new joiners¬†before they start, with one of these emails detailing the benefits they will have access to. With up to three months between an accepted job offer and a candidate’s first day, the email is designed to engage new employees, highlighting which benefits they can utilise immediately, and which ones they can access once they have passed their probation period.

The organisation¬†reinforces this with face-to-face group ‚Äėbuzz sessions‚Äô, held approximately four to eight weeks after an employee joins, which run through the benefits on offer. An additional email is¬†also sent after an employee passes probation, containing log-in details to the benefits platform and providing access to the full range of benefits now available to them.

Holiday Extras also uses instant messaging tool Slack for organisation-wide communications, as well as for groups that can be set up for teams.

Although 2017 signals the start of a new benefits chapter for Holiday Extras, its reward journey is still far from over as Tanton-Brown and her team work to support the organisation in achieving its five-year plan.

At a glance:

Holiday Extras is a travel and leisure business that provides airport¬†add-ons, such as airport parking, hotels, lounges and insurance. The organisation’s headquarters is located near Ashford, Kent. It has 650 employees across the Holiday Extras brand and short breaks division, with a 65% to 35% female-to-male ratio. The average age of employees is 34, and the average length of service is seven to eight years. All facets of the business are delivered in-house. This includes technology, marketing and web optimisation, partnerships and commercial, its call centre, and HR.

Business objective:

  • Holiday Extras’ five-year growth strategy is to expand the brand, data, technology, new products and partnerships across Europe.

Career history: Emma Tanton-Brown, reward executive at Holiday Extras

Emma Tanton-Brown, reward executive, joined Holiday Extras in August 2002, initially in a weekend role in its call centre. After studying HR at university, Tanton-Brown became people team administrator, before progressing into an executive HR role and then the reward function in 2011, with a focus on pay and benefits.

“[I am most proud of] being part of a team that has, for 10 years, won in The Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For,” she¬†says. “[It’s]¬†a great team which genuinely [cares] about doing what’s right for the people and for the business as well. There’s lots of good things that you do; you just come in and enjoy your job.”

Benefits on offer at Holiday Extras


  • Group personal pension (GPP) plan, with 3% employee contribution. Employer contributes 3% for the majority of staff and 11% for directors and associate directors. ¬†Employees can contribute via salary sacrifice. All employees are eligible after they have passed probation, but must opt in to the scheme.
  • National Employment Savings Trust (Nest) for those not in the GPP with 1% employee contribution and 1% employer contribution. Due for auto-re-enrolment at the end of March 2017.

Group risk:

  • Group income protection. Employees who started before January 2005 receive cover of 75% of salary; staff with more than four years’ service receive cover of 35% of salary for two years and can flex up to 75%.
  • Life assurance:¬†two-times salary as core. Can be flexed up to 10-times salary.
  • Employee-funded critical illness insurance, available after three months’ service.

Healthcare and wellbeing:

  • Private medical insurance, available for employees with a minimum four years’ service. Fully paid by the employer for full-time employees and pro-rata for part-time staff.
  • Employee-funded dental insurance.
  • Health screening, available for staff after¬†four years’ service.
  • Discounts on on-site high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and circuit group exercise classes.
  • Employee assistance programme (EAP).
  • Health cash plan.
  • Bikes-for-work scheme.

Work-life balance:

  • Childcare vouchers.
  • Holiday buy up to three additional days.
  • Holiday starts at 20 days and increases up to 25 days with length of service.
  • Birthday off.
  • Flexible-working policy.
  • Enhanced shared parental leave of three months leave at 100% pay, and three months at 50% of pay.

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Share schemes:

  • Profit share as part of the employee benefit trust (EBT); employees with less than two years’ service currently receive approximately 3.2% of salary every quarter, and employees with more than two years’ service receive approximately 6.4% of salary every quarter.

Other benefits:

  • Company car on a job-need basis.
  • Dining cards.
  • Employee-funded social club.
  • Monthly bonus for call centre staff based on call quality and sales made.
  • Voluntary benefits scheme.
  • Employee-funded massages.