Whether you organise a day trip or a long haul holiday, it is often the people you deal with who can make the difference. Find out who the finalists for this year’s Excellence Award are. 

Forming an important part of the annual Group Leisure & Travel Awards, this category was created to recognise an individual from the travel trade for their service to group travel organisers.

It’s about the people behind a successful group trip, those working with GTOs to make the process easy and the end result enjoyable for all. 

The Excellence Award has been won by all types of people working in the sector since it was first added to the annual Group Leisure & Travel Awards in 2008.

Previous winners have included people from tour operators, hotels and popular attractions. 


Your 2023 winner is…

…Daniel Pocock, sales development team leader, Potters Resorts

Daniel Pocock, Potters Resorts

Daniel is sales development team leader and has worked for Potters Resorts for 13 years. He works directly with group organisers supporting them during the booking process.

Daniel Pocock supports GTOs during the booking process to either Potters Resort Hopton-on-Sea or Potters Resort Five Lakes.

Having worked at Potters Resorts for 13 years and eight of those within the sales department, Daniel’s role involves working predominantly with the group sales team and directly with group organisers supporting them during the booking process as well as helping them promote the break and with queries that they may have.

He also helps GTOs promote their breaks among their group through support material or club visits and any queries that they may have during their booking journey. As with all of the groups team at Potters, Daniel aims to make a group booking as easy as possible for organisers.

His other duties include welcoming groups on arrival and being available as a point of contact during their stay, whether it’s to discuss their current break, a future stay or just to have a cup of tea and a catch up. 

When we asked Daniel what he loves the most about his job, he said: 

“Following the difficulties everybody faced during the pandemic, it became even more apparent how important social interaction is. For a number of people, being part of a group or social club is an absolute lifeline. So, for me to be able to work closely with an organiser planning a trip for a group or social club is very rewarding knowing that I am helping to put together something exciting for their members.

“Working with our organisers and speaking to them so often gives me the opportunity to get to know them on a much more personal level and I’ve built up some great friendships with them over the years. I’ve even been invited to the odd birthday party or club Christmas get together! To be seen more as a friend or family member rather than somebody handling their booking is a great feeling and to know that you’re trusted in what you do gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.

“I love working within our fantastic groups and commercial team at Potters, everybody in the team works so hard and I’m proud and lucky to be a part of it! Every day is different and the satisfaction you get at the end of the working day is like no other job. Potters is a fantastic company to work for where everybody is treated like an individual, the family themselves are so involved and really do their upmost to support and develop each and every team member to achieve.”

Potters Resorts offers all-inclusive breaks for groups at its Hopton-on-Sea resort in Norfolk and its new Five Lakes resort in Essex. 

Congratulations to the other 2023 finalists who were…

Faye Brant-Key, group sales and bookings coordinator, National Memorial Arboretum

Faye Brant-Key, National Memorial Arboretum

Source: National Memorial Arboretum

Faye Brant-Key has been helping groups organise visits to the National Memorial Arboretum for the last seven years.

Faye joined the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire almost 14 years ago and has been working directly with group travel organisers for the last seven. 

On a daily basis she supports and serve the attraction’s groups clients, new and old, to have a fantastic day out. This includes everything from answering queries and managing enquiries through to creating itineraries and packages.

She’s also responsible for the creation of groups-only events, looking at ways in which she can provide new and exciting opportunities for the groups and travel trade market.  

We asked Faye what she loves about her role: 

“I love working for the Arboretum because it’s a place that means so much, to so many people. We have such a wide variety of groups visitors from those interested in their personal or military histories through to people excited to come and see the flora and fauna.

“I love speaking with organisers to gain an understanding of what is important to them and why they want to visit, enabling me to build something bespoke and meaningful for them that ensures they have a day out to remember.”

The National Memorial Arboretum covers 150 acres and features more than 400 memorials as well as 25,000 trees - it’s an evolving, maturing woodland landscape.  


Jackie Cook, client manager, Success Tours

Jackie Cook, Success Tours

Jackie Cook loves exploring a range of destinations, including Puglia in Italy.

Spending most of her days on the phone discussing tours with group leaders, Jackie’s primary focus is looking after the initial stages of tours for a variety of clients including retirement, social, u3a and Arts Society groups. 

She will then put together an itinerary and quotation, booking the hotels, flights etc and producing any promotional materials needed before each tour is handed over to the operations team to oversee the final tour arrangements.

Jackie said: “We aren’t an “off the shelf” tour operator, each itinerary is tailored to suit, so it’s important to get to know GTOs and where possible their members – so I know what’s important to them. I’ve often turned up mid tour at hotels or attractions!

On what she loves about her role, Jackie told us: 

“I work with some fabulous GTOs, everyone is so friendly. I love the variety of the role. One minute I’m looking at an itinerary for the Orkney Islands, the next it can be Devon, then Puglia, or a river cruise.

“On a personal level, I love exploring and visiting new destinations and the role inspires me to do that constantly. I get great satisfaction in finding that hidden gem, something off the beaten track, that will wow the group really motivates me.

“Success Tours is part of the Albatross Group, which not only gives us great hotel contacts and rates, but also a bigger team to support and share knowledge. The company’s ethos & purpose - to treat everyone who travels with us as an individual we genuinely care about – really resonates with me. I love being part of the Albatross team. The team at Success are amazing too – Jo, Lisa, Laura and Tony are fabulous to work with.”

Success Tours is a group tour operator offering a range of tours by both coach and air to destinations throughout the UK, Europe and long-haul.


Sophie Dart, group and education sales manager, Nimax Theatres

Sophie Dart, Nimax Theatres

Source: Johan Persson

Sophie Dart loves the long-term relationship she has with GTOs and helping them organise show tickets to see the likes of Aspects of Love.

Sophie’s role involves managing all group and education sales for six West End Theatres (more than 3,000 seats per night) as well as arranging regular group events and proactively recruiting new group clients while enhancing relationships with existing customers.

She also deals with all the invoicing, tracking and processing of bookings, coordinating regular mailshots to the group database as well as recording sales and representing Nimax Groups and Education at group and travel trade events. 

Sophie told us what she loves most about working for Nimax Theatres: 

“I love the long-term relationships that you can build with groups; regular customers feel more like friends than clients. I also enjoy improving accessibility for groups, because of the reduced price of seats, and providing excellent customer service.

“Recently, I had a customer who wanted to book tickets for a show that unfortunately was not showing at a Nimax venue. Whilst we were talking, I realised who the customer was, and she explained that she had phoned us because we had made her previous experience so easy and given her group such excellent seats. It’s rewarding when people associate you as a good contact and provider of excellent service.

“I also love how the work I do can enhance the knowledge of the Nimax brand and the challenge to proactively increase groups revenue on an annual basis.”

Nimax Theatres operates six theatres in London’s West End - the Apollo, Duchess, Garrick, Lyric, Palace and Vaudeville. 

The winner of The Excellence Award was announced at the 2023 Group Leisure & Travel Awards ceremony at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Milton Keynes on Wednesday 4th October.

For more information go to groupleisureandtravel.com/awards.