Organisers of Excursions have received ‘fantastic’ feedback from exhibitors and visitors, thanks to the range of experiences and networking at the one-day show.
Held at Alexandra Palace, London, on January 27, the group travel event was organised by Tourism South East, and is now in its 42nd year.
It was also the venue, for the second year running, for the annual general meeting of the Association of Group Travel Organisers (Agto).
Special guests who were personally invited by coach tour operators enjoyed exclusive access to a VIP area hosted by the Mary Rose Experience.
They were able to handle replica artefacts and real objects from Henry VIII’s ship, and also attended a wine reception and sommelier presentation from Denbies Wine Estate.
Paul Griffiths, head of operations/managing director at the Mary Rose Museum, said: “The event was an amazing success and it was fabulous to meet hundreds of group trip organisers and give them a flavour of what the Mary Rose Experience has to offer.
“Hosting the VIP area also gave us the chance to give a more in-depth briefing on the Mary Rose and for visitors to get their hands on genuine Tudor artefacts.”
Exhibitors launching new products included Greatdays Travel Group and the New Lanark Mill World Heritage Site, while others brought along mascots including Lenny the Lemur from Marwell Zoo and Roman legions in full costume from Butser Ancient Farm.
Hourly shows were presented by Groups Direct in association with James R Hearn, performed by Frankie Valli and Shirley Bassey tribute artists.
Organiser Anna Wilson-Barnes, travel trade marketing manager at Tourism South East, said: “We were very pleased to welcome a large number of quality visitors this year, all eager to see the growing number of exhibitors at the show.
“Already the post-event feedback has been fantastic.”
Visitor and coach tourism consultant Stuart Render added: “Excursions always delivers, whether it’s discovering new attractions – this time Fiona Edmond’s magnificent Green Valley Gardens – or meeting friends and tourism professionals from across the country and over the water.
“It was also good to see so many exhibitors making it easy for GTOs, coach operators and other tour planners to understand the group offer. Group visits guides were in abundance, as were details of quirky and behind-the-scenes experiences. That’s exactly what the groups market is looking for.”
Pictured: town criers opening Excursions.