Erna’s desire to be part of the travel industry stemmed from her homesickness when she left Vienna in her early twenties to study in London. Money wasn’t Erna’s only motivation – she placed great value on providing a ‘personal touch’ to all her clients. Erna’s business flourished in the 1930s, putting Erna Low Ski Holidays firmly on the map. During World War 2, the flourish all came to an end. Erna joined the Army’s Education Corps as a lecturer and travelled the length of England. During these travels she discovered another holiday innovation – the house party! She rented large English country houses and boarding schools to paying guests. Her aim was to allow guests to meet and relax.
After finding success with the English house party rentals, Erna turned her attention back to ski holidays where she brought the principle of house parties to the ski resorts – by promoting the chalet holiday. The Erna Low Travel Service was launched in 1947 against the backdrop of the war austerity and produced an early brochure that featured the slogan ‘To Sun and Snow with Erna Low’. Erna’s lease on Gower Street came to an end in the summer of 1947. A friend of hers pointed out an advertisement in The Times for an ‘Attractive Mews house to rent in South Kensington, 9 Reece Mews, London, SW7 3HE’ – where the heart of the business still remains to this day.
Erna sold her business in 1972, to only buy it back 3 years later. In 1979 she sold her business for a second time, even thought she had no intentions of retiring. In 1980, at the age of 72, she launched Erna Low Consultants Ltd. Her first client was La Plagne, where Erna became the resorts official UK representative. At this time Erna was joined by a young graduate, Joanna Yellowlees-Bound who is still firmly involved with the Erna Low brand. Flaine soon followed the footsteps of La Plagne, and then was joined by Les Arcs. In 1997, to dedicate brochures of the three resorts, the company launched its first general Alps brochure.
Erna Low continued to expand and became a market-leader for self-drive French ski holidays. Since Erna placed her first ad in The Times, her ideas and expertise have helped shape the industry, so next time you’re queuing for a ski-lift and find yourself sighing, just imagine having to climb up the mountain with heavy wooden skis and wool jackets like Erna and the early piste-blazers had to endure. In May 2000, Erna Low was awarded the highest accolade from the British Travel Industry and was entered into the ‘Hall of Fame’.
2003, Joanna Yellowlees-Bound, the CEO of Erna Low Travel, decide to create a sister company that specialised in selling French properties. The idea came to Joanna from customers of Erna Low Travel coming back from their holiday and asking if they can buy the property they had been renting. Joanna saw this as a business opportunity and started to build Erna Low Property alongside running Erna Low Travel. Joanna sold Erna Low Travel to NUCO Travel in 2019 to focus on Erna Low Property, where she is the CEO to this current day.