Alan Rennie, Ambassador Cruise Line’s business development manager, was one of the judges for the 2023 Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award®. He shares his experience. 

Alan Rennie, Ambassador Cruise Line's business development manager (groups)

Why was it important for Ambassador to partner the 2023 GTO of the Year Award®?

We love welcoming groups on board, and it has been a great opportunity for us to find out more about what group travel organisers want and need so that we can deliver a better service for them.

Recognising the value of groups is so crucial for the whole travel industry and this award, as part of the Group Leisure & Travel Awards, really shines a spotlight on the work of GTOs and highlights their dedication and commitment.

You were a judge for the Award. How was the experience?

It was a really interesting experience and gave me a completely unique perspective talking all things groups. You don’t quite appreciate the full scale of the challenge of being a GTO until you meet the candidates and hear them share their stories.

As somebody who’s on the other side of group organising, hearing the reality of what group travel organisers go through each day was inspiring - I absolutely commend people who organise group trips. For the candidates we interviewed, it was a real source of pride and it was wonderful to hear some of the journeys they’ve been on. 

The 2023 GTO of the Year® finalists are: 

  • Mary Gotts, GOTT 2 TRAVEL
  • Andy Hine, The Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain
  • Linda Hubbard, Bexley Civic Society
  • Richard Preston, The Valentine Club

Find out more about them, and the groups they organise trips for, in our special feature here

The winner of the Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award® will be announced at the Group Leisure & Travel Awards ceremony on Wednesday 4th October at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Milton Keynes. 

Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award

Alan Rennie was one of the judges for this year’s award. He joined Dave Hartle, Dave’s Trips (2022 GTO of the Year®), Chris Taylor, Wey Valley Theatre and Travel Club (2016 GTO of the Year®), Keeley Rodgers, editor of Group Leisure & Travel and Rob Yandell, publisher of Group Leisure & Travel. 

What impressed you about this year’s GTO finalists?

One of the standouts for me, was that every single candidate said that while their job as a group travel organiser is tough and they put a lot of hours in, the smiles and warmth they get from members makes it all the worthwhile. That feedback is a real driver for them all and it clearly means so much. 

Why is it so important to recognise GTOs in this way?

I think the fact that the Group Leisure & Travel Awards recognise individuals in this way is important to the whole industry. This award shines a light on group organisers and the work that they do, as well as their dedication and commitment. 

Ambassador Cruise Line

Source: Riccardo Sai

Guests are promised a warm welcome on board Ambassador Cruise Lines’ ships.

The industry as a whole needs to recognise how brilliant group travel organisers are and at Ambassador Cruise Line, they’re very important to us. 

In a nutshell, what does your role with groups involve?

As business development manager (groups), I’m responsible for the groups team and I’m the GTOs’ point of contact. It’s very varied, the end-to-end service includes looking at cabins on a ship to see which ones are best suited to a certain group or organising seating for their dining experiences.

We pride ourselves at Ambassador for being the warmest welcome at sea and I like to think that with me, and the new support team, that’s the case for all our groups coming on board.

Ambassador Cruise Line's ship Ambience

There has been a rise in interest in round-Britain cruises among groups booking with Ambassador Cruise Line. 

We have groups booked on so many itineraries, we have so many appealing options from short ‘taster’ cruises to some of our longer durations. The Norwegian Fjords are always popular but I’m noticing a lot of interest in round-Britain cruises – this is particularly appealing to groups that are new to Ambassador or new to cruising, it is a great ‘first’ option for groups with us.

Ambassador Cruise Line is the official partner of the 2023 Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award®. 

Ambassador sails for the British market from London Tilbury with a focus on premium-value. Its first ship, Ambience, set sail from Tilbury in April 2022 on an ex-UK no-fly range of voyages. Ambassador’s second ship, Ambition, entered service in May 2023, carrying 1,200 guests in 714 cabins, with ten guest decks. She will operate itineraries from London Tilbury as well as cruises from six UK regional departure ports, including Newcastle, Dundee, Liverpool, Belfast, Bristol and Falmouth.

You can find out more about Ambassador and what it can offer groups at