Our next speaker Q&A features Wendy Hartley-Scarff, CEO of the Association of Group Travel Organisers. Here she talks about everything from trends, personalisation, and sustainable tourism, to who inspires her, what’s next for the AGTO, and her favourite destination to visit.
She’ll be chairing this year’s AGTO Question Time panel at BTTS on Thursday 26 March.
“The British Travel & Tourism Show (BTTS) is vital to the group travel market, enabling GTOs to visit, source products, and develop itineraries in a great environment of friendly and knowledgeable people. A visit to BTTS is invaluable.”
What’s your favourite place to visit in the UK and Ireland:
I do love Cornwall, it brings back childhood memories of sunny days on the beach playing cricket, fishing and making sand boats with Dad. The little winding lanes and gorgeous quaint towns are so interesting, with the smugglers’ history, although I must admit that I haven’t been there for a while.
I love Ireland and Scotland, with their beautiful coastlines, green hills, history and, of course, amazing golf courses.
What’s your favourite travel & tourism marketing campaign? – why do you think it was so successful?
I thought the VisitBritain ‘I Travel For’ campaign launched in 2018 was excellent, and then they followed it up with the GREAT campaign – all very creative.
I’m eagerly awaiting the results of Tourism Ireland’s GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK campaign for 2020.
What do you see as the most significant group travel / tourism trends in the coming year?
I believe experiential travel will continue to evolve and grow. And, of course, we have seen a massive growth in the multi-generational trend. A great opportunity to develop products that meet the needs of the differing generations of a family in one holiday/trip, very exciting.
Brexit 2020: What do you think are the implications for the domestic travel & tourism industry?
As with anyone, I’m not really sure what is going to happen. I’m looking forward to hearing Kurt [Janson] from the Tourism Alliance to clear it all up for us! Although indications are showing that travel continues, although it may be more domestic based in the future as travellers become concerned with the implications of what MIGHT happen. It’s a great opportunity to maximise on the ‘Staycation’ market.
The rise of personalisation: What are the pros and cons for group travel organisers?
There are some opportunities for GTOs but only if they are able to segment their client base to focus on the personalisation for each member of the party. It will be time consuming but rewarding in the end. The cons are that it is difficult to personalise to each individual, when you have a group of six let alone 30+. The GTOs will need to be committed to delivering the customer experience.
In your opinion, how can the travel / tourism industry continue to become more sustainable?
I believe the industry has made significant strides in helping sustainability, however just paying £2 on a flight to add to the “tree fund” isn’t the answer. It certainly helps but more needs to be done in terms of finding solutions to the fuel usage in planes and, of course, in cruising. In addition, we also need to be more mindful of the impact tourism has on the local environment of overseas destinations and domestic attractions.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is educating people, helping people achieve their potential, and assisting them to be successful.
And the most challenging?
What does the next 12 months have in store for AGTO?
AGTO is continuing to develop with new Board Directors and a firm strategy for growth. We will continue to recruit new members and develop products for our members, education on the website, new events to facilitate f2f meetings and networking, and also looking at new initiatives and opportunities to work with other Associations.
How important is The British Tourism & Travel show to the industry it serves?
British Travel & Tourism Show is vital to the group travel market enabling GTOs to visit, source products, develop itineraries in a great environment of friendly and knowledgeable people. Plus, it provides interesting, entertaining and thought provoking seminars. For anyone who operates in the group travel market, or wants to be a part of it, a visit to BTTS is invaluable.
Who or what inspires you to be even better?
The who would be Richard Branson, an amazing man who has achieved so much and knows when to move on, very astute.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
There are several pieces of advice I try to live by:
- Never burn your bridges – you never know when you may meet/need these people.
- Don’t get too big for your boots – remember we all start at the bottom, be empathetic
- No one is indispensable!
See Wendy at British Tourism & Travel Show 2020
AGTO Panel: 11.30am in the Keynote Theatre on Thursday 26 March
If you haven’t already, don’t forget to register for British Tourism & Travel Show, taking place at the NEC Birmingham on 22-23 October.