Excellence Award 2015: Vote for the winner

Date Posted: 30/07/2015

The Excellence Award 2015

Between May and July Group Leisure readers nominated group travel industry professionals for The Excellence Award. Your finalists have now been shortlisted. Now it’s back over to you to choose the winner.

What is The Excellence Award?

The Excellence Award recognises outstanding service to GTOs by individuals in the group travel trade. Nominations are made by GTOs and colleagues, and the shortlist is drawn up by the Group Leisure team based on what we’ve been told about the nominee’s work and experience. The winner is revealed and the prize presented at the annual Group Leisure Awards, which this year will be held on 21st October at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole hotel.

How to vote

If you think one of our finalists deserves this award based on the service they’ve given you as a GTO, vote for them.

Votes can only be accepted from GTOs, not colleagues in the travel trade or at the companies concerned.  

Voting for this award has now closed.


Meet our 2015 finalists

Dilwyn Jones

Dilwyn Jones, owner, Sabrina Boat, Shrewsbury

Job role

“Six years ago I saw a passenger boat business for sale on the internet and, within three days I had bought it. Even though I had no boating experience at that stage I knew I could make it an attraction to be proud of. Groups are a huge part of the business. We host up to three coach parties every day. As the owner of the business I believe it’s my job to be hands on. Along with Mark in the office and my skippers, I take group bookings and give live commentary on the cruises. I help groups to set up packages and give advice on what to do in addition to the cruise – I also work with museums and restaurants to make the groups’ days in Shrewsbury easier.”  

What does Dilwyn love about his job?

“I am incredibly fortunate to love what I do and I get up in the morning as enthusiastic about work as I did the day before. I have always loved being near water and it gives me great satisfaction to have the opportunity to share my experiences on the river with others. I love the growth that Shrewsbury is experiencing in the group market and tourism in general so it is really satisfying to be part of that.”

Mandy Hill

Mandy Hill, group sales manager, Dunwood Travel

Job role

“I joined Dunwood Travel in 1996 and my role within the groups department is to manage existing clients whilst building, nurturing and developing relationships with new group organisers. My team and I ensure that all of our holidays are dealt with professionally, operate smoothly and that every minute detail is attended too. I oversee each and every group holiday from initial concept through to the post-holiday feedback, ensuring that the group have a wonderful experience and happy holiday memories.”

What does Mandy love about her job?

“I am passionate about my role and have enjoyed every moment of my 19 years with the Dunwood team. I am at my happiest obtaining new groups, tailor-making holiday packages and working alongside a great groups team. I also enjoy socialising and developing lasting friendships with our customers on familiarisation visits and our annual get together. I see Dunwood Travel as a family of colleagues and customers and take immense pride and satisfaction that I have been able to be part of this. Our groups are loyal to us, as I am to Dunwood Travel, loving every aspect of my rewarding role within the company.”

Sophie Austin

Sophie Austin, group & specialist sales executive, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Job role

“My role is to generate direct group business across the Fred. Olsen fleet, and this includes everything from the initial enquiry, bookings, personalised promotional materials, club presentations, and then working closely with the ship to confirm all of the specific on-board arrangements for each and every group. My role is very busy and extremely varied, and I am still learning every day - no two groups are ever the same. I pride myself on offering GTOs a personal and tailor-made service, ensuring all of their questions are answered and all of their arrangements are in place.”

What does Sophie love about her job?

“From my first day I have always loved dealing with our customers to find their perfect cruise, I don’t think the fulfilment of booking someone their holiday of a lifetime ever wears off. I enjoy creating special tailor-made packages for our GTOs and going that extra mile to make their specific group requests possible, leaving no stone unturned. I get to speak to our GTOs regularly, and have established some great relationships and friendships, with lots of very inspiring and interesting people. It is very exciting to work in an industry with like-minded people who all share the same passion for group travel. I am very lucky, and I can whole heartedly say I love my job.”

Steve Reed

Steve Reed, director, Steve Reed Tourism

Job role

“I have been the public face of most of Steve Reed Tourism’s activities since the business was created in 1999 – with my wife and business partner Judith always performing the all-important but less visible work behind the scenes. We work with GTOs every day of the year. I spend a lot of time talking to GTOs to put together itineraries for events that suit their needs. I also talk to organisers at the events to give them advice on how to get the best deals from the suppliers there. We have calculated that over the 16 years of SRT we have arranged around 150 GTO fam events in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as overseas.”

What does Steve love about his job?

“My role has given me the pleasure to meet and do business with literally hundreds of great people within the group travel and coach tourism industries. Where else and in what industry would I have had so much fun and satisfaction? And I’ve got to know Great Britain better than most – having had the opportunity to see some wonderful areas, regions, towns, cities and communities right across our very diverse country, always to encourage and develop group business. I know that I’m essentially a people-person and you can guess that I’m least happy when I’m in the office. I’d much rather be out at exhibitions, trade shows, group training events, workshops, fams and of course, meeting the people who make our wonderful tourism industry tick.”

Voting for this award has now closed.

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