The Excellence Award: who will you vote for?

Date Posted: 06/07/2012

An award for service to group travel organisers, if you’ve worked with our finalists, choose your winner.

What is The Excellence Award? Launched in 2008, the award seeks to recognise outstanding service to group travel organisers by individuals within the group travel trade. We look to shine the spotlight on those who work for and with GTOs, from tour operators, theatres, hotels, coach companies, attractions, tourist boards, ticketing companies, associations, etc.

Our finalists have been nominated by group organisers and chosen by the Group Leisure team, based on the experiences and information our readers have shared with us.

Please note the deadline has passed and you can no longer cast your vote.

To find out more about The Excellence Award click here.

Our finalists are...

Ellie Fulcher, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Job title:
Group Sales Executive

Job role: “I set up a Direct Group Sales Department for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in 2009, to deal directly with GTOs, offering tailor-made group packages and a high level of personal service. My role is to generate new business for direct groups, through advertising in key group publications, attending group travel shows and promotional events, and organising ship visits. I also work closely with the GTOA, of which we are a proud associate member. My job includes everything from group quotes and bookings, to designing personalised marketing materials and liaising directly with our ships. It is a part-time role and I also have two young children, so my working week is extremely hectic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My goal is to provide the high level of personal service that I would hope to receive myself. It is all about paying attention to detail and going that extra mile for people.”

What does Ellie love about her job? “I feel very lucky because I really do love my job. It is always interesting and varied, and each day brings a new challenge. I love speaking to GTOs and building relationships with them; many have now become firm friends. I am always proud to show them around our ships, and it gives them the first-hand knowledge and confidence they need to promote the cruise to their group. I am also confident there is a great deal of potential for growth within the direct groups business, and it is my aim to grow this business for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in the coming years.”

Louisa Jackley, London & Partners (formerly Visit London)
Job title:
Industry Relations and UK Leisure Tourism Marketing Manager

Job role: “For the last six years I have been fortunate enough to work for the best city in the world - London. My role has allowed me to maximise my enthusiasm and passion for London every day. Day to day I work hand-in-hand with the travel trade - in particular the groups market which is vital for a city of London’s size. I initiated and have since led on all domestic group activity for the company. I thoroughly enjoy meeting and working with some great GTOs, highlighting London’s offering whether it’s for a first time visit or a group who want to see something different. I have hosted a number of Reader Club trips over the years, and we have showcased many inspirational venues and attractions, including the Olympic Park in Stratford, walking tours in Mayfair and behind-the-scenes at ZSL London Zoo. My job is to make sure GTOs get the most and best out of London, and as many people know, you couldn’t find someone with more enthusiasm for the capital.”

What does Louisa love about her job? “I am very lucky to work in such a vibrant industry full of amazing people where real business relationships make things happen. I believe in London’s product and partners - it has so much to offer everyone. No two days are the same and I thrive on that and the unknown of what each day will bring. There’s always a new show, exhibition, hotel, restaurant or experience opening in London so there’s always something new to talk about. I have developed some really strong relationships in the industry, which have allowed me to help the travel trade work together to strengthen London’s offering, so GTOs have even more reasons to visit.”

Glen Thomas, Travelsphere
Job title:
Sales Manager - Groups

Job role: “I joined Travelsphere three years ago. Apart from managing the team at head office, my role is to look after our loyal band of GTOs and their groups - some of whom have been travelling with the company for over 20 years. I try to visit as many groups as possible - from a personal visit to a group presentation - explaining the benefits of travelling with a fantastic company like Travelsphere. I also source new opportunities for our team and exhibit at a number of travel shows all over the UK. I enjoy working on new ventures and have introduced a number of changes to the groups team since I joined. I have re-introduced our popular familiarisation trips which have proved incredibly successful - in the past three years I have taken group organisers to Kenya, China, India, Switzerland, and this year I will be taking a trip out to Russia. It is a vital part of my role to make sure our groups are looked after to the best of my ability, and to make them feel part of the Travelsphere family.”

What does Glen love about his job? “I believe passionately in the product I sell. I love the fact that the groups team look after our valued customers from initial enquiry right through to the point of travel. I love hearing the amazing feedback about the holiday experience our groups receive when on our tours; like when one of my group organisers texted me whilst on a recent trip to China to say how wonderful her holiday arrangements were - and could I start work on the next one. The icing on the cake for me is working for a professional, forward-thinking company with a team of people who are totally committed and loyal to our continued aim of being the number one choice for GTOs.”

Jo Thomson, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Job title:
Friends' and Groups' Co-ordinator

Job role: “I have had the pleasure of working for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) for several years, promoting our concerts to the groups market and looking after the needs and requests of our many group bookers. The most important part of my role is developing and maintaining excellent working relationships with GTOs; looking after their reservations and helping to ensure that bringing a group to one of our concerts is as straightforward and enjoyable as possible. I help decide which concert and seats would best suit their group, administer each booking, and ensure they get the best prices; as well as offering practical advice on attending each venue. My role also focuses on ensuring that our groups package of discounts and benefits remains as attractive as possible. I keep GTOs up-to-date on forthcoming events by writing and sending out group-specific brochures, giving them the best possible chance of securing their members’ favourite seats at a great price.”

What does Jo love about her job? “A really enjoyable part of my job is speaking to our group bookers; their enthusiasm is infectious. It is always such a pleasure to meet GTOs at concerts - to put a face to the name of someone you have been corresponding with, or to catch up with regular group bookers. Meeting and greeting 50 different coach loads of group bookers at the Royal Albert Hall, and hearing what they thought of a concert is especially rewarding. The group travel market was all new to me when I started work at the RPO - and I’ve found it involves the most enthusiastic and friendly people. From exhibiting at travel trade shows to organising joint promotions and packages, I have found it to be a really rewarding and fun experience.”

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