Rewarding the Best: part III

Date Posted: 16/04/2014

In our third installment, we caught up with Elizabeth Mounser, 2013 Excellence Award finalist, and found out more about her role at Continuum Attractions, what being nominated meant to her and some of the more unusual requests from GTOs.

Name: Elizabeth Mounser
Company: Continuum Leading Attractions
Position: Group Sales Manager
Number of years working in group travel: Three years
Favourite destination: Portugal

The Excellence Award recognises the commitment and dedication of an individual within the supplier sector, highlighting those who truly go the extra mile to provide an outstanding service. Nominations and votes are cast by group travel organisers, before the winner is announced at the annual Group Leisure Awards.

Hi Elizabeth, congratulations on making it to the final four of the 2013 Excellence Award at last year’s Group Leisure Awards. Could you tell us a little about your role and how you became involved in group travel?

I originally came to Continuum on a year’s maternity cover and the role developed with the way that we could work with different associations like the GTOA and becoming involved with the National Council.

The role then became permanent and from there we continued to develop our group product and portfolio to appeal to foreign language school groups and UK school groups right the way through to senior groups and coach groups, ensuring we appeal to all the different markets.

What was it about the groups side of the business that really appealed to you?

It can be so diverse and so different from any other market; it can be for the young or the young at heart - there is a product there for everybody. It’s really exciting and challenging matching that product to the enquiry you get.

What would you say are the main highlights of your job?

When people write in and say: ”thank you, we had a great time”. It’s about the whole Continuum team working together to make sure that people get the experience they wanted. Our slogan is ‘engaging stories in memorable places’. When we’re told that we’ve delivered that, that’s where the plus factor is for us.

How do you think the group travel industry has changed in your experience?

It’s more competitive in what people are looking for, the amount of product they want and the price they’re looking at paying, so from our point of view we’re very much about working with partners so we can be a one-stop shop to help people get the best value day.

We will work together to build a whole day so clients haven’t got to spend their own time shopping around for products, as well as making us more price competitive.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?

Probably time. We’re raising our profile and over the past three years we’ve grown very quickly. We also have another new attraction opening this spring which is the Coronation Street tour. It’s about still delivering the same kind of service and follow-up but at the same time having increasing products and content.

Do you find that you have to be quite flexible in your approach in respect of the different types of groups?

People are more adventurous. We’ve listened to what people say - I think that’s one of the nice things about Continuum - we’re big enough that we matter, but we’re small enough to care.

All seven of the attractions are very different so each of the client bases is different. I think it’s about pitching my conversation to where the market needs to be or what the person is looking for.

I like to think of myself in their shoes - if I was visiting what would I be expecting.

Are there any Continuum Attraction experiences you particularly enjoy which you’d recommend to groups?

At the Spinnaker Tower, we’ve put on a new high tea package for groups where they can sit up on the on the viewing deck and have tea from a three-tier cake stand, which is great.

Have you ever had any unusual or peculiar requests from a group organiser?

We had a request once from a burlesque group who wanted to use the Spinnaker Tower, which we weren’t too sure about what with all the glass.

We did also have an enquiry from a naturist group who wanted to go to Kent Life which we thought as a big family attraction wasn’t really going to work.

We never quite know what the phone or the inbox is going to deliver to us.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I have my family and I like to catch up with friends. We like going to Portugal to relax and unwind; we have no phones and no internet there so it’s complete relaxation time with no interruptions. When I’m at home, I also like going to concerts and the theatre.

Were you surprised to be nominated for The Excellence Award?

I was gobsmacked. I was in London walking past Buckingham Palace when I got the call and I had to sit down!

It’s always nice when you’re nominated by people who feel that you’ve given them great service. It was a tremendous honour and complete shock especially having only been in the groups side of the industry for three years.

Is there anything you would like to say to all the organisers who voted for you in The Excellence Award?

I just like to say a really massive thank you. I don’t who nominated me or how many votes I got but it was a real privilege to be nominated and shortlisted.

Even though I was a runner-up, I had so many lovely comments and e-mails afterwards, it was still like winning.

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