Excellence rewarded: Part III

Date Posted: 13/02/2012

In the third of a four-part series featuring our 2011 Excellence Award finalists, we chat to Lesley Terrell from Historic Royal Palaces.

Name: Lesley Terrell
Title: Sales Executive, Travel Trade Department
Company: Historic Royal Palaces
Number of years working in group travel: 3.5 years
Favourite holiday destination: Dartmoor or the Greek Islands

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. You can also read our other interviews with Excellence Award 2011 winner Richard Woollis of Encore Tickets and fellow finalist Dawn O'Farrell of Ramblers Worldwide Holidays.

Group Leisure: First of all congratulations on being nominated for the 2011 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?
Lesley: Working for Historic Royal Palaces I help provide the GTOs with timely information on seasonal events and activities and help to update and refresh excursion itineraries. This is achieved by meeting the product managers of coach operators and group travel organisers both at their places or work, at trade fairs and exhibitions. I have held the post of travel trade executive for nearly three and a half years now after moving from another department within the organisation.  

Group Leisure: What was it about the groups’ side of the business that really appealed to you?
Lesley: The groups market is so full of interesting people from all walks of life, with so many different interests, and Historic Royal Palaces can offer itineraries that fit in with all sorts of people. I find it most enjoyable helping group organisers plan their visits to our wonderful palaces.

Group Leisure: What would you say are the main highlights of your job?
Lesley: Working in such iconic locations as the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace, and meeting such a variety of people through the course of a day.

Group Leisure: How do you think the group travel industry has changed in your experience? 
Lesley: Group travel is more popular than ever before, with more GTOs seeking new experiences, destinations, and attractions. Historic Royal Palaces offers new exhibitions each year at one of its palaces, and we have four new permanent and two temporary exhibitions opening for the Diamond Jubilee Year

Group Leisure: What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
Lesley: Making sure all of my clients are satisfied with our products, and that they receive as much information as possible on all the events and exhibitions we have on offer well in advance, so GTOs can plan their itineraries in plenty of time.

Group Leisure: Are there any Historic Royal Palaces experiences which you’ve particularly enjoyed which you’d recommend to groups?
Lesley: I went on a ghost tour at Hampton Court Palace last year which lets you experience the palace in an eerie new light. Seeing the Crown Jewels on display always amazes me, especially the Koh e Nor diamond set in the Queen Mothers’ Crown.

Group Leisure: Do you find that you have to be quite flexible in your approach in respect of the different types of groups?
Lesley: Yes. We have quite a few special interest groups who may be interested in art or history, and then there are horticultural groups who request tours of the gardens. We also have groups who are particular interested in key figures in history such as Thomas More, or Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII of course. 

Group Leisure: How do you enjoy spending your free time?
Lesley: Taking my dog for long walks, swimming, and staying at my son’s house on Exmoor.

Group Leisure: Were you surprised to be nominated for The Excellence Award?
Lesley: Yes, and also I was very honoured.

Group Leisure: How did clients and colleagues react?
Lesley: They were very pleased and supportive of me.

Group Leisure: Is there anything you would like to say to all the organisers who nominated and voted for you in The Excellence Award?
Lesley: I would like to say how thrilled I am to know there are so many organisers that thought I should receive such a prestigious award, and would like to thank each and every person for nominating me.

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