17 May 2007

Ramblers go worldwide

Ramblers Holidays have changed their name to Ramblers Worldwide Holidays.

Of course, Ramblers always have taken people on walking holidays worldwide. In fact they've been doing it since 1946, the year after WW2 ended, when they took 600 people on walking holidays to Denmark, Sweden, the French Alps, Tunisia, Andorra, Provence, Corsica, Paris and the Ardennes. Imagine how easy that was to organise in the aftermath of the war!

But that's not the general perception. People think of them as operators of walking holidays in the UK. Hence the need for a change of brand image, which they are marking with a new look expanded brochure and website.

The problem is (and this is a name you will not read in their press materials covering the re-launch) people link them with the Ramblers Association - a uk-focused charity.

Hardly surprising, because although Ramblers Worldwide Holidays studiously avoid making that connection, they are linked.

The official line is:
Ramblers Worldwide Holidays and Countrywide Holidays are the 2 trading names operating walking holidays. Both are owned and operated by the private limited company Ramblers Holidays Ltd (RH).

RH is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ramblers Association Services Ltd (RAS) which is an Industrial & Provident Society regulated by the Financial Services Authority. As such it has around 300 "members" or shareholders which own and control RAS. It is governed by a management committee elected from within the shareholders. This committee appoint the directors and senior management team of RH and therefore control the management of both Ramblers Worldwide Holidays and Countrywide Holidays.

RH gives a certain amount of profits into the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust (RHCT) each year. This is used to fund various projects in support of walking and enjoyment and protection of the countryside. The Ramblers’ Association (RA) is one of the main beneficiaries of grants made by RHCT.

The Ramblers’ Association is a totally separate legal entity and operates entirely independently of RAS & RH. At a management and operational level there are closer ties between the organisations, working closely for mutual benefit.

Be that as it may....

As a 'worldwide' brand, RWH would like to distance itself from the RA (indeed there was apparently much internal debate about ditching the 'Ramblers' part of their name entirely), but the RA, through its newsletter & website, is one of RWH's most loyal & lucrative sources of business.

So although RWH & the RA share a bed, right now Ramblers Worldwide Holidays would prefer it if they are not seen in public together.


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