The TV presenter and cruise journalist discussed all aspects of taking groups on cruises in the opening seminar session at the exhibition at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes. 

Julie Peasgood during her Seminar Session

Julie Peasgood talks through her cruise experiences at this year’s Group Leisure & Travel Show.

The sell-out Group Leisure & Travel Show, now in its 23rd year, is the number one event in the group travel calendar and a must for organisers of group travel all across the country, many of whom return to visit the show year after year.

The exhibition, which provides GTOs with the opportunity to find inspiration and advice for organising group travel, from UK day trips to river cruises and long haul trips around the world, is being staged in Milton Keynes for the first time this year, previously held at the NEC in Birmingham. 

Julie Peasgood, a veteran of no less than 80 cruises, was the first speaker of the day in the show’s free-to-attend Seminar Theatre. 

Her talk, Taking Groups on a Cruise, covered what group organisers should consider when booking a cruise for their members as well as Julie’s personal experiences and top tips for first-timers. 

A self-confessed “cruise addict”, Julie said: “It all started 20-odd years ago when I went on a soap-themed cruise on the QE2 (where I had to give my experience of being in C4’s Brookside) and it was love at first sail-away.

“Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to have travelled on more than 80  cruises, as an on-board speaker, TV Presenter for the Travel Channel’s ‘Cruise Today’ programme, and as a travel writer – I write for the Mail on Sunday and I’m Contributing Editor for Cruise International magazine, as well as having my column in Group Leisure & Travel magazine.

“To me, it is the most magical way to travel, and I do believe there is a cruise for everyone – regardless of age or budget. Cruising is the biggest growth sector of the holiday market, especially river cruising – and I am a confirmed fan of both.”

Group organisers have been busy visiting the stands; Geoff Allen of Travallen Travel & Events said: “It’s great meeting up with contacts, it’s such an important event for picking up ideas - I’m even looking ahead to 2021. It’s a great choice of venue too, much easier to get to in Milton Keynes.”

Comments from around the stands

  • We’ve been exhibiting at the show for a number of years now and my first impression of the new venue in Milton Keynes is great. It’s quite big and easily accessible which is always a bonus, plus it’s not far for us to travel.” Aileen Sharp Tourism Development Officer, Visit Ely
  • “We’re really excited to generate more business and gain new contacts, following on from the success of last year’s show – events like this are really useful because it’s targeted at a specific audience.” Jackie Boustead, Whitworth Hall Hotel & Deer Park
  • “We’re delighted to be exhibiting at the GLT Show for the first time in many years to promote all of our eight sights. We’ve got an exciting offer that we’re launching for the group’s market today which is our hidden London tours which are tours of disused tube stations, hidden tunnels and secret spaces on London’s transport system, taking you into some fascinating spaces.” Ollie Burton, London Transport Museum

This afternoon saw two more celebrity speakers; senior travel editor of The Independent and travel guru Simon Calder with his discussion titled 25 Years in Travel and then writer and broadcaster Kate Humble who spoke about the joy of getting off the beaten track. 

“It’s great to see the Group Leisure & Travel Show held in Milton Keynes; as soon as I heard it was here I knew it would be right.”

Sylvia Saxon, GTO and chair of the New Meridian Association

Show highlights 

There was a number exclusive show competitions and give-aways on offer for visitors including the chance to win the following: 

  • A 2020 holiday for two on one of tour operator Travel Editions’ packages - on Travel Row 5. 
  • A two-night dinner, bed & breakfast stay with Providence Hospitality - on Stand 315. 
  • £500 worth of vouchers to spend on a Leger holiday. 
  • An iPad from the Group Leisure & Travel Magazine team - on Stand 233. 

The list of exhibitors included some of the biggest names in national and international group travel, with everyone from hotel groups and stately homes to tour operators, cruise lines and gardens. 

There were some first-timers too; The Silverstone Experience team (Stand 115) are on hand to tell visitors all about the new attraction set to open later this month while The Big Journey Company (Stand 513) is showcasing its escorted tours and group experiences to worldwide destinations including African Safari adventures. They’re also offering a two-night weekend break in the Lake District to the winner of show-exclusive competition. 

“We’re delighted with the response we’ve had to the change in venue”, said Show Organiser Emma Cash who added “visitors and exhibitors have been so positive about the new location, the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

“There’s been a great buzz around the show with plenty going on. Whether you’re looking to pick up the latest ideas for group trips or holidays or make new contacts, it’s the place to be and we’re looking forward to what the rest of the day has in store.”

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