The face of excellence: Louisa Jackley

Date Posted: 31/01/2013

Pictured: Louisa (centre) showing group travel organisers around Camden, London.

We continue our series talking to The Excellence Award finalists from 2012 by catching up with Louisa Jackley, senior marketing manager for London & Partners. Rachel Bailey finds out why group travel organisers think she’s a real star.

Name: Louisa Jackley
Title: Senior Marketing Manager – Travel Trade and Industry Relations
Company: London & Partners
Number of years working in group travel: seven years

The Excellence Award recognises the commitment and dedication of an individual within the travel trade 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.

How did you become involved with London & Partners?
I’ve always had an interest in the tourist industry, and studied tourism at degree level at Birmingham University. I’m a born-and-bred Londoner and I love the capital to bits, so when this position came up I couldn’t think of anything better. I think it’s the best job in the world!

What does your role at London & Partners entail?
My role used to be split between trading and consumerism, but now it’s 100 per cent trade across both domestic and international spaces. I spend a lot of time focusing on group visitors to London and making sure we’re highlighting the right places for them to visit.

Run me through an average day at work for you.
I don’t think there is a typical day [laughs]. It changes all the time, just like London does. One day you might be working on travel trade newsletters and travel guides, the next you might be at international shows such as ITB or USTOA. There’s always something going on in the travel trade world, and there’s never a typical day.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?  
There are so many different products in London, and a multitude of people to talk to, so it’s important to channel the right messages to the right groups at the right time. We work really closely with our partners (of which we have over 1,000), and these include museums, galleries, hotels, restaurants, and travel providers.

It’s important our partners are working together to make sure that the London proposition to GTOs is as appealing as possible. For example, bringing together theatre productions and pre-show dinners makes for an entire evening’s entertainment, or grouping attractions which are located closely together make coach travel easier, and groups get to see many places without having to travel too far. London’s so big, and there’s so much to explore. It’s a good and a bad thing really – we’ve got so much to offer, and it’s just a matter of making sure GTOs have the right information.

How do you think the group travel industry has changed in your experience?
I suppose technology has evolved so much and it’s really helped us communicate with the travel trade. GTOs use the internet to source inspiration, so our website is always updated, plus it offers a search bar for organisers to browse attractions based on what size groups they can cater for. We also have a travel trade newsletter, the data base for which is constantly increasing.

Do you have to be flexible with different types of groups?
We get enquiries from all sorts of different people. We aim to enable group travel for everyone, whether it’s the Women’s Institute or groups coming over from abroad. London has the content, and it’s down to us to package that in a way that is appealing to all.

Do you offer a lot of personal recommendations to groups?
All the time! If I’ve been to see a show or visited an attraction and noticed there are some great opportunities for groups, I’ll certainly push them further. It’s nice to be able to package attractions together, for example seeing a show at the theatre and then experiencing a back-stage tour.

Are London & Partners promoting any new attractions for 2013?
The Tiger Territory is opening up at London Zoo, which is a new enclosure for some tigers which are going to be moved there in the next few weeks. We’ve also got the Great Map, which is an interactive world map for visitors to discover famous and exciting events which took place in Britain’s maritime history. It’s taking place at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The new London Dungeons is another big attraction this year. Moving from London Bridge, it’s now going to be next to the London Eye, and opens in March. New theatre productions include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and A Chorus Line.

Do you organise a lot of familiarisation trips?
We’ve done a few fam trips with Group Leisure magazine. We organised one in Camden, where we visited London Zoo, and went on a canal barge. We had dinner at Camden Market in a restaurant called Shaka Zulu, and tried the pubs. I’ve also done a trip in the heart of Mayfair, where we went on numerous walks with the Blue Badge Guides who gave so much information about the area. I try and find areas that are a bit different – for example, last year I hosted one in Stratford, where the group visited a viewing gallery to see the Olympic Park in construction. The group really enjoyed seeing the development of that; we explored what the whole borough had to offer, and I had some great responses back.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?
I’m a big fan of trying new places out and I love going to boutiques and markets and finding nice little restaurants I’ve never been to before. I take recommendations off friends and family, and I like trying things out for myself based on reviews. I think you need to be a tourist where you live to know what’s going on.

What was your reaction when you found out you’d been shortlisted for the Group Leisure Excellence Award?
I really do value working with GTOs and it was such an honour to have them vote for me. When you work so hard and put effort into these things, it’s amazing to be recognised for it. Group travel organisers come back to me time and time again. I’m really chuffed with myself!

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