Thanks to its fresh content, new show features, and quality vendors, this ‘must-attend’ event welcomed 2866 attendees, including some of the biggest tour operators, travel organisers, coach operators, and travel agents from across the UK and Ireland.
David Maguire, the British Tourism & Travel Show’s event director, is calling the show a ‘fantastic success.’
“The buzz on site was electric this year, with an array of pop up entertainment performances surprising visitors, coupled with over 270 exhibiting companies. Big names joined us in the Keynote Theatre including national treasure Angela Rippon. Visitor numbers reached a record high and we can’t wait to get to work on the next edition taking place on 20-21 March 2019 at the NEC, Birmingham,” he says.
“Another great show highlighting the best of British tourism, giving a great opportunity to meet attractions and customers and catch up on what is going on in the tourism world,” says Roger Bailey from Blue Badge Tourist Guide.
“Although a 200-mile return journey, the show was a great way to source new ideas, make new contacts, put names to faces and catch up with long standing and current contacts,” says Geoff Allen, director at Travallen Travel & Events.
“As a U3A organiser we found all the stands representatives very helpful, organised, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. They were experienced in putting together suitable packages for day trips, giving us lots of ideas on how to organise our excursions. A very helpful and useful day out, which was also very enjoyable,” says Barbara Ashworth, U3A groups organiser.
GTO day and the new GTO Lounge, dedicated to group travel organisers, provided the perfect back drop for experienced GTO’s to plan their itineraries and network with like-minded professionals. The GTO’s arrived at the NEC in coaches arranged by Happy Days Holidays and Belle Vue Coaches.
Steve Reed of Steve Reed Tourism and director of AGTO (Association of Group Travel Organisers) says: “It was super to see so many GTOS as well as tour operators at the show, many thanks indeed to Happy Days Holidays for their great efforts, and thanks to the brilliant attractions.”
The show also presented its first GTO Special Recognition Award, in partnership with AGTO, to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of group travel organisers within the tourism sector. This year’s award went to Mary Gotts, GTO for Ver-Colne Valley U3A, for her ‘methodical’ and ‘professional’ attitude to groups, and that ‘she works tirelessly to ensure her group have the best holidays ever.’
From coastal retreats to country farm parks, from historic houses and villages to big city attractions, this year’s show features – including its 270 exhibitors – crossed the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland, Europe and beyond.
The new Destination Europe area proved to be a successful addition to the 2018 show, with many praising the ‘range of exhibitors’ especially ‘from other countries’, providing inspiration and ‘new ideas’ for their international tours.
Highlights also included the new Food and Drink Trail, which allowed visitors to sample treats from across the British Isles. Influenced by history and heritage, the trail included traditional food and drink products like Cornish fudge, Scottish whiskey, Welsh cakes, British Cassis and Exeter Gin. “We’ve been part of the Food and Drink Trail with our locally produced jam and gin which has been very popular with visitors,” says Ken Milton, general manager at Clarendon Hotel, Blackheath. “It’s been really great exhibiting at the show this year, as we’ve seen lots of quality customers coming through the doors. It’s been a fantastic experience for us, especially returning to the show after a few years,” he says.
The number and quality of visitors in attendance has led many exhibiting companies to already rebook for the next edition in 2019. Among them are: Warner Leisure Hotels, Eurotunnel, The World of James Herriot, Great Days Travel Group, Roeville Reservations Software, Distinctive Systems, JCD Recruitment, Devon’s Top Attractions, Norman Allen Group Travel, and The Royal Horticultural Society. ￼
Summing up their exhibiting experience, Dick Wood, vice chairman of Devon Association of Tourist Attractions says: “It’s been a busy two days at the NEC in Birmingham. It’s one of the best shows in the tourism calendar. We come here every year and we have nine members with us. We’ve had a lot of interest from travel operators, group travel operators, organisers and various other people, which is great.” “We’ve loved being at the British Tourism & Travel Show, it’s been really interesting meeting all the visitors, not just those who have planned to see our stand, but people who have come to see everybody. All the stand holders have engaged with each other, and that’s good to see. It’s not just about meeting people in terms of who you do business with, but it’s also about how you can learn from everybody else here,” says Heidi Jones, managing director of Eat Sleep Live Herefordshire.
Big name Keynotes
Renowned for delivering exclusive insights, tips and inspiration from a host of big name speakers, the Keynote Theatre attracted lively sessions (many standing-room only) from Ruairidh Roberts (Google), Angela Rippon CBE, Jody Farrer (Chute), Justin East (Merlin Entertainments), Andy Headington (Adido), Max Sinclair (EcoCompanion), Andy Woodward (MTMI Quality in Tourism), and panel sessions from the ALVA (chaired by Bernard Donoghue) and the AGTO (chaired by Wendy Hartley-Scarff).
Award-winning broadcaster and national treasure Angela Rippon shared her travel stories from her 50-year career with the BBC. Although her experiences included abseiling down mountains and swimming with sharks, her fondest holiday moments in England were visits to the beaches in Devon and Cornwall.
“I particularly enjoyed visiting places like Rock before it became ‘Kensington on Sea’, and before anyone else had discovered it,” says Angela Rippon. “I’ve had wonderful memories of spending golden summer weekends on the beach at Thurlestone, swimming and just being with friends.
“At the British Tourism & Travel Show, I think it’s wonderful to see so much opportunity for travel in one place. You’ve got everything here covering the entire spectrum of what people are going to be able to afford, from the inexpensive to the very glamorous and expensive – and everything in between. We do live on a wonderful Island, we have a number of coastlines, amazing beaches, great cities, and a wonderful countryside,” she says.
Google’s head of travel, Ruairidh Roberts, also drew in standing-room only crowds across the Theatre. His session became central to discovering vital digital marketing insights and expert advice on the best specialist performance tools for travel professionals to use for their business.
Commenting on his experience speaking at the show, Roberts says: “At Google we work with such a vast number of customers using our platforms, so it’s difficult to always ensure we’re scaling our insights and advice in the areas we feel we have an authority to speak on. Events like The British Tourism & Travel Show are absolutely critical to speak in volume to some of the largest, through to the medium, and smaller businesses within the tourism trade.”