The Excellence Award

Voting has now closed for this year’s Excellence Award 2017.

Recognising outstanding service to GTOs by individuals in the travel trade, The Excellence Award is one of the highlights of the Group Leisure & Travel Awards.

The winner will be revealed at this year’s Group Leisure & Travel Awards ceremony at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole on Wednesday 11th October.

The final four

Mark Williamson
Operations Manager
National Civil War Centre / Palace Theatre / Newark Visitor Information Centre

Mark Williamson

Your role: To ensure everyone has a great time. I look after our Front of House Team of Visitor Information Centre Assistants, our retail offer, as well as venue hire. My proudest achievement, however, is starting a process aimed at getting Newark on the map for GTOs.

For years, groups have gone past Newark without consideration for our beautiful town which was a shame. I looked into what GTOs were after: ease of parking, town tours and of bespoke booking/invoicing. What I have done is to bring our attractions together under ‘Visit Newark’, creating a one-stop shop for GTOs. We co-ordinate and invoice for the lot, taking the hassle out of organising for GTOS. We’re now having groups turn off those roads and come and visit us in their droves. We’ve made Newark the attractive offer it always should have been.

What do you love about your job?

I have amazing visitors in front of me and an amazing team behind me. I love them both.

I love it when people come back to our reception and tell me Newark is “the best place I’d never visited”. It means all the hard work we’ve put into our packages, into the front of house team, into making Newark the better offer it now is, was worth it. It’s something that we thankfully now hear a lot. 

Helen Ward
Group Sales Specialist
Groups Direct

Helen Ward, Groups Direct

Your role: We are small team working together closely to help groups get the best deals on tickets for West End theatre, tours, attractions, meals and exhibitions. I work in sales but also join in with development of new product ideas. I like to talk with my clients so that I can find out what is working and not working for them, it is important for them and us to develop together. Assisting in the training of new staff members is also part of my job, along with paperwork, exhibitions and many other things.

What do you love about your job?

Although I work in sales I believe that listening is my main job because if I didn’t do this I wouldn’t be able to tailor deals and advise my customers and colleagues on new products that they may like. I am a great believer that everyone is different and they all have individual needs. I do all the mundane stuff as well, paperwork, spreadsheets but talking to people is what I love and as a company we want to make our clients feel welcome and that their ideas are valid. If we can make our clients feel like that and they have a good day out, then I have done my job.

Glen Thomas
Head of Group Sales
Travelsphere, Just You & G Adventures

Glen Thomas, groups sales at Travelsphere, G Adventures

Your role: Day to day management of the Groups teams in Market Harborough and London. Liaising with group leaders and their groups. Presenting our products to groups at events across the country either in halls, clubs, and restaurants or on ships! Escorting VIP GTO familiarisation trips showcasing our holidays with destinations so far including: China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Russia, Laos and Thailand. Working on the committee of the New Meridian Group Organisers, providing support and getting actively involved with the group organisers.

What do you love about your job?

What is there not to love about my job?I have always had a passion for travel and have worked in the industry since I left college at 18;so for those of you who don’t know that is now 30 years! During my time with Travelsphere, we have seen many changes, but, despite changes, one thing has stayed solid and that is the support we have had from our loyal band of group organisers, who, year after year trust us with their holiday arrangements.

I get to meet a number of our groups when I visit and present next year’s ‘must do holiday’ and it’s such a pleasure as it’s like going back to see old friends. As my journey continues I will also be managing the Group sales for our sister company G Adventures. This opens up endless new adventures and possibilities for the group traveller.

Dawn O’Farrell
Private Groups Manager
Ramblers Walking Holidays

Dawn O' Farrell, Ramblers Walking Holidays

Your role: To ensure the smooth operation of Private Groups. I liaise with our group organisers ensuring accommodation and flights are all in place for their walking, experience or cruise and walk holiday. Initial contact is usually via e-mail or telephone from the organiser (we have an awful lot of repeat business). The decision is made regarding the destination and I get to work on tying up all the ends. We pride ourselves in our flexibility and try to make the booking procedure as easy as possible.

What do you love about your job?

Absolutely everything. I do not think I ever go home without a smile on my face I love the personal contact, the fact the organisers can ring me just for a chat, I absolutely love the feeling I get when they think they have a problem and I help them in sorting things out. Of course, as with everything in life, sometimes things do not go quite according to plan; this is when I love pulling out all the stops and putting things right.

The team I work with are second to none and I love working with them, nothing is too much trouble and this is exactly what I try to forward onto our group organisers . I think the fact that my first year working for this company, 1977, says an awful lot about the love of my job too.

     Voting has now closed. Thanks for taking part.