Biting Questions with Oliver Kluth, Riu Hotels, Mallorca

Open Jaw

Where were you born?  In Cologne.

How long have you been in the business?  25 years, starting as a purchasing manager for a Belgian tour operator.

How many people work for you?  For me as Senior Vice President of Sales & Business Development in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Mauritius – 140. Riu employs some 28,000 worldwide.

What’s the best part of the job? Definitely the travel. And I get to know a lot of people; experience different cultures.

What did you want to be as a kid? A professional soccer player. And I almost made it!   

What was your 1st job? In construction. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Bungee jumping in Turkey. Not going to do that again! Parachute jumping was a great experience but bungee jumping? Simply awful.

Any guilty pleasures? Chocolate. Belgian chocolate.  

What’s your favourite airline? Sunwing, of course! After that? Etihad. Very, very good – probably the best in the world.

Favourite hotel? Well of course I must say Riu, but apart from our own there are so many nice ones.  The Mandarin Oriental in Singapore. The Banyan Tree in Dubai, which is a desert camp.

What’s on your iPad? Mainly things to make my travel more entertaining. Ebooks, magazines, movies, music. Angry Birds 2!

What do people not know about you? Well, my wife knows everything!            

Any hobbies or interests? Plenty. Travelling, obviously. Reading – especially thrillers. I’m old-fashioned and still like going to the cinema. Sports - soccer, which I still play.

When were you happiest?  At the birth of my 2 children.

What skill or talent do you admire in someone? Someone who can cook well. I’m not very good, I’m afraid.

Is there anything you won’t eat? No. I’ll try anything once. Some I won’t have again – barbecued monkey comes to mind.

What’s at the top of your bucket list? The North Pole. That would be quite special.

Ever had a brush with fame? Yes, [German chancellor] Angela Merkel, a few times. The Dalai Lama.

What keeps you awake at night? The neighbour’s barking dogs! Apart from that, I sleep very well.

How do you spend your frequent flyer points? I don’t. I forget about them.

What is your greatest extravagance? Shoes. I like nice shoes.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? We have convinced people, especially in Europe, that flying must be cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. It’s hard to get a normal price and provide a good service.

Do you have a favourite charity? Medecins sans Frontieres [Doctors without Borders].

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? Here in Canada, the exchange rate.

(will not be published)