Mike, who runs a group in Hereford, about what he has learned being a group travel organiser and what he’s got coming up.  

Mike Potts group outside a hotel in Bolton

Enjoying a stay at the Last Drop Hotel in Bolton.

How did you become a group travel organiser?

I used to belong to the local Canal & River Trust, and when we formed a Canal Society in 1983, I spent most of my spare time organising the day trips for the group. We would hire a coach and take people to a local canal to see how it had been restored, before going for a trip along the waterway ourselves – it just grew from there. I did it for many years until around the year 2000 before I left the trust, but people I knew loved the trips and asked me to carry on, which is why we started Trips and Tours. We now go all over on day trips and the occasional holiday.

Mike’s group at a glance…

GTO Mike and Joyce Potts

Group name: Trips and Tours
No. of members: 200
Time organising: 30+ years
Based: Hereford


What trips have you been on this year and what have you got coming up?

We enjoyed a visit to Paul Kirner’s Theatre Organ Collection at Music Palace in Porth, Wales, and then we took part in a coach tour to Brecon with a cream tea canal cruise. We’ve recently just come back form a short break which included visits to Eastbourne, RHS Wisley, Brighton, Volks Electric Railway and The Bluebell Railway. Next time out we will be visiting Minehead for a 20 mile train ride on the West Somerset Railway and we’re also combining a trip to Norwich with Thursford’s Christmas Spectacular at the end of November.

Mike Potts' group at Bressingham in Norfolk

The group enjoy a range of outings and short breaks including to Norfolk. 

Do you find certain trips are more popular than others?

Our group loves a coach tour which also includes some form of transport - either a canal or river cruise, or maybe a railway trip. I try my best to mix it up and people keep coming back, so I must be doing something right! I had one lady come along once and she said, ‘I wasn’t really looking forward to this trip, but now I’ve been, it’s like joining a family’.

If our guests ever see anyone new on board, they’ll always make sure no one is left out and will automatically go up and help them. It’s a great team to be a part of.

Is that what keeps you going after all this time?

Yes, I just like to see people enjoying themselves. My partner Joyce, who began helping me organise the trips in the 90s, and I also have a couple of other voluntary roles, such as a local lunch club once a month for people who are a bit lonely and want some company. We just love making a difference to people’s lives and making them smile.

What have you learned along the way that you would tell other GTOs?

Try to make sure the accommodation you choose is very good. Our trips tend to be a little more expensive with the coach hire included, but that’s because we always look for a good quality hotel. I remember once, before a trip, we made sure to visit the hotel before taking the group to see what would be waiting for us when we arrived. Some of the rooms were facing a main road which made it quite loud, so we were able to request rooms at the back of the hotel as most of the group come from a quiet, country environment. It’s important to take note and research things like that.

Mike Potts group in Criccieth, Wales

Enjoying a break to Wales. 

How do you deal with single supplements on hotel rooms?

Most hotels only give you about six single rooms, but we’ve managed to get 12 on most of our last outings, and usually with no supplement thanks to the efforts of Action Tours which helps us out. Sometimes we’ll add the cost of the supplement together and split it across everyone on the trip. It can be frustrating, but I can see the hotel’s problem, because the last thing you want is a hotel with 50 rooms and only half the guests. The only time it’s not fair is if it’s actually a single room, because they physically cannot have more than one person in that space.

Finally, how would your group describe you?

Probably as a nutter! I must admit, we have a really good laugh on board the coach and I’m always telling jokes when we’re on the road. We sometimes do a quiz or something on the coach when we’re travelling home which goes down well – the whole coach party is a family and we find that our passengers very often help us out. If our guests ever see anyone new on board, they’ll always make sure no one is left out and will automatically go up and help them. It’s a great team to be a part of.

Would you like to tell us about your work as a group organiser? Get in touch by emailing editorial@groupleisureandtravel.com.