GTO Allison Udy on the uniqueness of her group and how a coach driver can make or break a trip. 

What type of people make up your group?

We have all sorts. The core regulars tend to be a little bit older, but we also run family-friendly trips, particularly in the summer holidays. For example, we do Disneyland Paris most years and actually I have three people in their 80s who want to come on the next trip there. Because we are a community centre, the group is open to people aged 0 - 100.

Group organiser Allison Udy

Allison’s group at a glance…

Group name: Milton Village Community Association
No. of members: 500+
Time organising: 31 years
Based: Portsmouth

How do people become members?

We have a catchment area for members and then they get priority booking. Most trips sell out in a day or two but if there are spaces left, we open up to everyone. We are quite unique in that we are a community centre that runs a trips programme. I have had to watch the number of members, especially in the last few years, because it was getting to about three coaches on the trips. I have a waiting list of people who want to join too.

Members of the Milton Village Community Association on holiday in France

Outside the Chateau de Montvillargenne in France.

What type of trips do you do?

We do a variety of day trips, theatre outings, weekends away and longer breaks. Over the years we have been to places like Las Vegas, Egypt, Vancouver and Iceland. We don’t do as many long-haul trips as we used to but I think we will build up to those again. This January we had a phenomenal trip to Lapland, we have had a Warner Hotels break this year already and in September we’re off to Belfast. There are lots of day trips too; we’re going to Wilton House in Salisbury as well as Bridport and Lyme Regis. Last year I ran a four-day French château trip which went down very well and I am looking at Madeira for next year too.

Lapland sounds incredible, tell us more

It has been on my bucket list since I was a teenager. Every year I’ve looked and it has been too expensive but this one popped up and it finally fit the bill. It was everything I expected and more.

Milton Village Community Association in Lapland

The group had an incredible experience in Lapland, one of Allison’s bucket-list destinations.

We went as north as you can go and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere - it was gorgeous. Everything was included and we were looked after so well. We did everything from seeing the Northern Lights to husky rides, snow shoeing and even had a trip to the Icehotel in Sweden. It was amazing and I’m already planning two return trips.

What’s left on your bucket list?

Singapore. I love orangutans and a few years ago I saw that you can go into Singapore Zoo and have breakfast with them. All I want to do is hold one of the orangutan’s hands. Perhaps I’ll get there with the group one day.

Choose a coach company carefully, build a rapport and negotiate to get your regular coach driver.

You clearly love being a GTO, what do you enjoy the most?

I love the fact that I can make things happen for people. Even something like our Bletchley Park trip recently was a highlight – many members had wanted to go for ages and I made it happen for them. I get a kick out of that. My members are really good at giving me their feedback after a visit – they’re always hugging me at the end! They tell me it’s the convenience of me doing all the work and them just paying the money, turning up and off we go.

Milton Village Community Association member in Lapland

Allison finds her role as a GTO very rewarding - she loves making things happen for people. 

Is there anything that makes or breaks a trip for your group?

I’ve always known my group so well, but it has changed recently. There are lots of new faces on the coaches, so it feels like I’m learning all over again. The coach driver makes a huge difference. My pet hate is when coach firms won’t allocate a coach to a driver. You get such better service if the driver turns up with their regular coach because they keep it clean, take pride in it and know how everything works.

What advice would you give to somebody starting out as a GTO?

Put yourself in the position of your members; what would you want, how would you want to be treated, how much would you pay? Choose a coach company carefully, build a rapport and negotiate to get your regular coach driver.

How do you find new ideas?

It does get very challenging, particularly as we are based on the coast. I go through my old records and find places that we haven’t done in at least ten years. I try and be imaginative too – adding some kind of food to the experience always goes down well!

Would you like to tell us about your work as a group organiser? Get in touch by emailing