Solo travel as part of a group is thriving, according to Debbie Marshall, managing director of Silver Travel Advisor, the website for the over 50s mature traveller.
She was presenting to members of the Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO) at the AGTO Showcase Weekend 2020 that took place at the end of February at Ettington Chase Hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon.
She told the 115 delegates
that a growing number of solo travellers are choosing to travel on their own but
as part of a group, often because they no longer have a partner to travel with,
or by choice, either choosing to travel with girlfriends or simply because
their partner doesn’t want to go with them.
She explained that around
a quarter of people surveyed by Silver Travel Advisor said that the benefit of
travelling with an organised group was because it allowed them to travel as a
single person but have someone else organise everything for them. A third of
respondents said that having everything organised for them would encourage them
to travel with a group.
This year’s AGTO Showcase
Weekend included presentations from Helen Peters, chief executive of
Shakespeare’s England, who said that renewed efforts are being made to
encourage visitors to stop-over in the region rather than simply visit on a day
trip. Shakespeare’s England also arranged four familiarisation trips that
included Warwick and Kenilworth Castles, the British Motor Museum and
The popular AGTO
Associates’ Exhibition saw around 60 tourism suppliers meeting with GTO members
from around the UK. A highlight of the event was the Gala Dinner, sponsored by
made Tourism Marketing with a 1920s ‘Peaky Blinders’ theme. The prize for ‘Best
Dressed’ guest went to Matt Coulter from the groups and travel trade team at
Historic Royal Palaces.
Commenting on the event,
AGTO chief executive Wendy Hartley-Scarff says: “The annual AGTO Showcase
Weekend provides a catalyst for GTOs and our Associate supplier members to
network and socialise. This year’s programme, supported by Shakespeare’s
England, made Tourism Marketing and Cruise & Maritime Voyages, provided our
GTO members with lots of inspiration and ideas to take back to their groups. It
also gave our Associate supplier members the opportunity to find out more about
the changing expectations of group travel organisers.”
The Association of Group Travel Organisers is an independent organisation
representing the interests of those who organise tours and trips for groups as
well as those who provide services for group travel. The Association has over
400 group travel organiser members and around 250 supplier members.
The Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO) has appointed Wendy Hartley-Scarff as its new chief executive.
She will take up the position later this month. In her new role she will be responsible for developing the future strategy of AGTO, including membership, events and marketing communications.
In a career spanning over 25 years, she has held senior positions in the travel industry at Reed Travel Exhibitions (World Travel Market), Stena Line and National Car Rental. She also has extensive experience of dealing with trade associations and tourist boards and served on the board of the Institute of Travel & Tourism for 10 years.
She succeeds Mike Bugsgang who stood down from the role after a three-year term of office at the end of December 2017.
Commenting on the appointment, AGTO Director, David Steele, says: “I’m delighted we have secured the services of Wendy Hartley-Scarff, she brings with her a wealth of experience covering the inbound, outbound and domestic tourism markets. Her contacts within these sectors will be highly beneficial to the Association. She will be introduced to our members at the forthcoming AGM at the Excursions show in London on 27 January.”
Wendy Hartley-Scarff says: “The groups market makes a huge contribution to the UK’s tourism economy and offers great potential for expansion. I am honoured to be given the opportunity to join AGTO at such an exciting time in the organisation’s development.”
AGTO is a nationwide trade body that has been representing the interests of group organisers as well as those who provide services for group travel, for over 25 years. The Association has seven branches around the UK. There are more than 600 members comprising mainly group organisers but also suppliers to the groups market.
The Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO) held its 25th Anniversary Showcase Weekend on 28 to 30 October. The venue was QHotels’ Dunston Hall Hotel near Norwich.
On the Friday afternoon, AGTO CEO Mike Bugsgang introduced presentations from Pete Waters, Executive Director with Visit East Anglia, and Jason Triandafyllou, from marketing agency Designate. This was followed by a Networking Showcase with Associate Members (suppliers) giving delegates the opportunity to find out more about latest products and services.
On the Friday evening, delegates enjoyed an informal dinner, with magical entertainment by Roy Davenport from Davenport’s Magic Kingdom, and Rachel King, a very talented multi-instrumentalist.
On the Saturday, delegates took advantage of three familiarisation trips. The first visited Cromer where a Halloween open day was being held in the Pavilion Theatre at the end of the pier. The photos below reveal some of the Halloween characters that popped up during the visit. The trip then travelled along the north Norfolk coast to Sandringham House. The second fam visited Norwich Cathedral, Banham Zoo and Melford Hall. The third fam visited Wroxham Barns and Great Yarmouth and its pleasure beach, with a Southern Comfort Paddle Boat trip on the Broads. The very well turned out coaches and drivers were provided by Eastons Coaches.
On the Saturday evening, in partnership with the event’s main sponsor, made tourism marketing, delegates were entertained by West End stars Emma Hatton (‘Wicked’) and Oliver Tompsett (‘Guys and Dolls’).
Here’s a selection of photos from the weekend taken by Stuart Render and Mike Bugsgang. The photos can also be seen at www.facebook.com/stuartrendertourism.