The Excellence Award 2016

After three months of nominations, four finalists were chosen for the annual Excellence Award and voting for the winner was opened up to the public. This voting period has now closed.

The Excellence Award is one of the highlights of the Group Leisure Awards. The accolade is presented to an individual from the travel trade who has really pushed the boat out when it comes to providing great service to group travel organisers.

Nominations are made by GTOs and colleagues, and a shortlist of four finalists is drawn up by Group Leisure based on the information provided by the readers.

Meet the finalists

Emma McMillan

Emma McMillan, Groups and Affinities Manager at David Urquhart Travel

Job role

My job is to look after the group booking department for David Urquhart Travel. I source new business via exhibitions, advertising and the building of new products and itineraries. I also look after our current growing database of GTOs.

Our GTOs are the apple of our department’s eye, as without them we wouldn’t be here. Some organisers like to travel several times a year, my priority is to take the hassle away from organising groups for our GTOs, so daily we deal with enquiries and suggest new and exciting things to do.

What does Emma love about her job?

What I love about my job is that it has the benefits of both sales and customer service. I still get the drive I loved in sales via exhibitions and creating new product but I get the benefits of customer service via our GTO database.

Every day is different and brings me new challenges. Business, for me, is about making things easier, better and unmissable for our GTOs. Some of our GTOs are like friends and family. They call for a chat and to ask how we are as well as doing business. Nothing beats a hard week at the office with the thanks you get at the end knowing your group enjoyed the holiday and will be back for more. Every satisfied organiser makes my job worthwhile.

Adrian Millan

Adrian Millan, Groups Manager at Switzerland Travel Centre

Job role

Together with my team of three, I take care of all ad-hoc group requests to Switzerland. We are very active attending trade shows, GTO events and even organise our own workshops to promote Switzerland. Once a group organiser has expressed interest in the destination, we design an itinerary suitable for their group’s needs and budget. We take care of all the arrangements from flights to hotels, trains and excursions. I am also very lucky to travel to Switzerland a few times every year on fam trips with GTOs to showcase everything the country has to offer and to visit our suppliers, with whom we work very closely.

What does Adrian love about his job?

After years working for different tour operators around the world, I have finally found the right place for me: a Swiss tour operator based in London. It could not get any better! Even after living in Switzerland for three years, it is a destination that never ceases to amaze me.

We have lots of different nationalities in the office and that allows me to practice my language skills.

Another thing I really like is the fact that everything runs like clockwork in Switzerland; it makes my life a lot easier and gives me the time to concentrate on finding new products and activities for GTOs. I know that when my groups are in Switzerland everything will go according to plan. My favourite part of the job is when our suppliers visit us in London, they always bring us the best chocolate!

Tina Mott

Tina Mott, Tourism Development Assistant at Visit Hull and East Yorkshire

Job role

I joined the Hull Tourism Team back in 2001 to support the tourism development and promotion of the city. My main role is to make sure that all GTOs and their groups have a first class experience when visiting the destination. This means I offer support and advice to GTOs from the planning stage right through to their actual visit. I arrange booking itineraries, coach parking, refreshments, lunches, tickets to attractions and meet & greets. Since the creation of Visit Hull and East Yorkshire in 2007, I have managed the Groups Campaign and have been responsible for everything from hosting familiarisation visits to developing the group offer in the areas surrounding Hull.

What does Tina love about her job?

Without doubt the best part of my job is working and meeting the fantastic groups that visit. I love to find out more about them and help them to create the perfect visit. I am passionate about Hull and love the region, so relish the opportunity to shout about how great it is.

I have established great relationships with GTOs and tour operators over the years. Another highlight for me is developing new tours and itineraries; I aim to create something new every year. Familiarisation visits are also a huge amount of fun. I am very lucky to work with great people and to have the opportunity every day to share my genuine love of Hull and East Yorkshire.

Oliver Williams

Oliver Williams, Sales - Dance Holidays and Events at Isle of Wight Tours

Job role

My role at IOW Tours involves the organisation, sales and delivery of dance themed holidays and events around the UK, Channel Islands and Europe for the groups market, this year totalling over 50 breaks. These events range in size from 80 to 350 people. To ensure the success of each event, much planning goes into securing the best suited venues alongside bringing in the top live music acts and dance choreographers and hosts within each genre. I support all my group organisers from point of booking through the entire process, attending the holidays myself, troubleshooting where necessary and to be on hand to offer support and join in the fun with them.

What does Oliver love about his job?

My job is a diverse one and, as much as I value and enjoy the time spent in the office making sure these holidays take place successfully and are as stress free for the group organisers as possible, I love to be out on the front line meeting faces old and new and being part of their holiday experience.

Enjoyment of dance is not hindered by differences in language and culture and over the past year I have looked after my first French, Dutch and American groups; integrating them happily alongside the UK customers. The groups I bring together have often never met before and I love being able to facilitate that so many go home upbeat about having made new friends, often keeping in touch through social media and wanting to meet again on the next holiday.