Finalists for GTO of the Year Award revealed

Date Posted: 20/09/2017

Find out who has made the final four for the Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award, to be presented at the Group Leisure & Travel Awards on 11th October. 

Rewarding group travel organisers since 1999, this annual award aims to shine a spotlight on special people who put so much time into organising group trips and holidays for all types of people. Whether in their spare time, as a professional, for colleagues, friends or family, GTOs often make a real impact on their local community and make a huge contribution to the tourism industry in the UK and beyond. 

The 2017 finalists were chosen because of their organising skills, travel knowledge and the positive impact they have on the lives of others. 

The winner was selected during an official judging day, which took place in Kensington, London, at the end of August. But you will have to wait until the awards ceremony to find out who has won this year. 

The judging panel was made up of experts from the group travel industry. Our judges were: 

  •  Andy Booth, organiser for Sainsbury's Staff Association, Rype Park Depot and GTO of the Year winner 2011. 
  • Glen Thomas, from category partner, Travelsphere
  • OIiver Williams, Isle of Wight Tours and winner of The Excellence Award 2016
  • Keeley Rodgers, editor of Group Leisure & Travel 
  • Rob Yandell, publisher of Group Leisure & Travel

Until the winner is revealed, you can read more about the finalists below and see if you can decide who will walk away with the prestigious title and £2,000 to spend on a familiarisation trip of their choice.

The Group Leisure & Travel Awards 2017 will be taking place at Hilton Birmingham Metropole, in Birmingham on 11th October. The winner will be announced at the ceremony. For event and ticket info click here

Your 2017 GTO of the Year finalists are: 

Marian Durbidge, Herts Theatre Club and Go Together Travel Club

Marian has been organising for about 24 years, and has taken her group to various destinations including Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumbria. Further afield there have been tours to Switzerland, Austria, Sardinia and Italy to name just a few. 

Marian Durbridge

Marian Durbridge.

When asked what skills and qualities she considers to be the most important in her role as a GTO, Marian said: “Always smile, be positive, try to give the correct instructions, do your prep beforehand, check on the bookings and enjoy the company of your members”.

Pete Fincham, HASSRA

Pete Fincham, on average takes about 50 people away on his vast array of trips. His biggest is still Disneyland Paris which he does every year. He has previously taken up to 200 people at a time and still gets in excess of 150 people wanting to meet Mickey Mouse and friends. 

Pete Fincham

Pete Fincham.

He told GLT that he “loves it to bits” and said that the most rewarding aspect is “being able to travel to different places that I have read about when I was younger and of course taking the group means that they have a great time too and I now have a band of ‘groupies’”. 

George Guest, St Lawrence Group

George has taken his groups to so many places, it's hard to know where to start. He organises about 16 day trips a year, a handful of short breaks and long-haul holidays. Plus, his group has raised about £400,000 for charities.  

George Guest

George Guest.

On the most popular destinations for his group, George told GLT: “It’s a short spring break in Exmouth. We have been going to the same hotel for the last 18 years and it marks the start of the travelling year”. George said he finds the enjoyment his members get from trips the most rewarding aspect of being a GTO. 

Sue Poole, Wooburn Outings

Sue organises 20 day trips a year on average, a number of UK short breaks as well as European holidays. 

Sue Poole

Sue Poole.

Her group, Wooburn Outings, consists of two groups, one in Buckinghamshire where she used to live and one in Gloucester where she lives now. Both have about 500 members. 

When revealed as a finalist, Sue told GLT: “The most rewarding part of being a group travel organiser is seeing people enjoy themselves and making new friends.”

For more information about the awards visit www.groupleisureandtravel.com/gtooftheyear.

For awards event and ticket information go to www.groupleisureandtravel.com/tickets

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