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The Coach Tourism Association Spring Networking Event and AGM: Karen’s Experience

The Coach Tourism Association Spring Networking Event and AGM: Karen's Experience

Karen King

Trust My Travel General Manager

In May, Karen King, General Manager of Trust My Travel, headed to Oxford for the Coach Tourism Association’s Spring Networking and AGM event. The much-anticipated gathering attracted nearly 120 coach tour operators, wholesalers and industry suppliers for a weekend of business development and, as Karen explains, a hearty dose of fun.

It was a pleasure to travel to Oxford last month to attend the Coach Tourism Association (CTA) event. I had a great time and left with a head full of ideas and a pocket full of business cards! The event was held at the Holiday Inn on the northern outskirts of Oxford, and I was surprised at just how luxurious the hotel rooms were. As a result, it didn’t take me long to settle in.

While I didn’t go on the CTA fam trips, which included visits to Oxford Castle and Prison, the Bodleian Libraries and Blenheim Palace, they were clearly a hit with the other attendees. People seemed particularly impressed by Blenheim Palace—I’ll have to organise a visit to the popular historical attraction when I’m next in the area.

Sunday: Networking, With a Twist

On Sunday night, I attended a lovely three-course meal. Sitting at a table with seven others, I had the opportunity to network with travel industry peers, including coach operators, wholesalers, hoteliers, insurance providers, ferry operators and more. It was fantastic to meet new people and bond over the industry we are all so passionate about. 

The networking event also gave me the opportunity to discuss the Trust My Travel financial protection and payment processing offering. I explained to the travel providers around me the advantages of our pay-as-you-go solution, which offers payment processing, a trust account, and financial protection all in one package and is fully compliant with the Package Travel Regulations.

I also explained that Trust My Travel gives them their own merchant account, streamlines the payment process and safeguards their customers’ funds until their journey ends. Plus, our Financial Failure Insurance means they can confidently pay suppliers upfront while giving customers peace of mind with an email confirmation outlining their financial protection. Trust My Travel’s solution is perfect for the non-flight market, so it was great to connect with businesses that would benefit from using our services.

After dinner entertainment

But it wasn’t all business. After chatting with those seated at my table, we were all treated to a performance from the Tyrolean Evening Folk Show with the Gundolf family in Innsbruck. The folk performance was a treat for the eyes and ears, as there was plenty of thigh and shoe slapping, yodelling, alpine horn blowing, cowbell ringing and, perhaps most impressive, someone playing “Edelweiss” on a saw. I was thoroughly entertained by the performers, who were also members of the CTA. What a talented bunch!

Monday: AGM and Seminars

The next morning, I was up bright and early to attend the CTA AGM and accompanying seminars. I’d been looking forward to this part of the event, as I couldn’t wait to hear what the speakers, Daniel Hayes from Zemo Partnership and Manu Kastia from Digital Dialog, had to say.

Decarbonising coaches

First up was Daniel Hayes from Zemo Partnership. His seminar explored the timely topic of decarbonising coaches to accelerate towards a zero-emissions, sustainable transport future. He explained that Zemo Partnership brings together many different groups as an independent platform for debate, cross-sector collaboration, networking and change, helping transport decision-makers drive forward cleaner transport initiatives.

Daniel also discussed the changing environmental regulations in the UK and EU. Between the UK’s zero emissions target by 2040 and the EU’s tailpipe CO2e regulations for new HGVs, including coaches, it’s clear that travel providers relying heavily on transport have big decisions to make around repowering to zero emissions vehicles.

AI marketing for tourism, travel and hospitality

Next up was Manu Kastia from Digital Dialog. His seminar on AI marketing for travel companies was enlightening. He explained that, instead of being just another marketing channel or business function, AI will be infused into every business area.

He pointed out that the technology can address several common problems, including substandard data analysis and insights, too little emphasis on measurement and a tendency to follow a broadcast approach rather than personalising communication. I’m certainly interested to see how AI progresses over the next few years.

More Events to Come in 2024

I thoroughly enjoyed the CTA Spring Networking and AGM event. Since Trust My Travel recently joined the CTA, this was my first chance to attend a CTA event. What an introduction it was! From the moment I arrived, I felt very welcome. Every interaction I had was warm and friendly, and I came away feeling inspired by the collaborative spirit of the travel community. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with my travel industry peers, discuss the benefits of joining Trust My Travel, learn about the future of travel and, last but by no means least, enjoy a good folk performance! 

I’m pleased that there are more travel networking events to come in 2024. I’m looking forward to the next two events in November: World Travel Market in London from the 5th to the 7th and CTA Winter Networking in Blackpool from the 24th to the 25th. I hope to see you there!

Do you want to see what we all got up to at the CTA Spring Networking event? Watch this video, which captures some key moments, including the folk performance, the AGM and the seminars. To give you a glimpse of the fun I had, you can spot me having a good laugh at 1:37.

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