PIC 1 - UK Coach Awards - David Steele (centre)DAVID STEELE, the newly-crowned winner of the UK Coach Awards’ Services to the Coach Industry accolade, tells us what the award means to him – and shares his favourite group-friendly attractions

As Board Director of the Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO), David Steele is a well-respected fi gure in the travel trade industry – his tireless campaigning work for coach tourism celebrated last month when he was crowned winner of the UK Coach Awards’ prestigious Services to the Coach Industry award.“Winning came as a lovely shock,” says David, who lives in London. “Even though I’m still very active in the industry, it’s now in a voluntary capacity, and I didn’t expect to receive such an honour seven years after officially retiring.“Of course whenever you receive recognition for your work that’s a good feeling, but the award was proof that even though I’ve gone from the front line, I’m not forgotten. Being recognised for the work I’ve done was hugely gratifying. It shows that the industry is a very caring one.”In a career that’s spanned more David Steele

AGTO FACT BOX
● The Association of Group Travel Organisers was formerly known as the Group Travel Organisers Association, or GTOA. It revealed its new name, and new look, at its annual general meeting earlier this year to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
● An independent organisation, AGTO provides group organisers and suppliers to the groups travel market with a range of benefi ts, including discounts, networking opportunities and a members-only liability insurance scheme.
● The organisation provides a forum for its members to debate and exchange views, expertise and opinion through its branch meetings, conferences and national newsletter.

Membership starts at just £24 including VAT per year – fi nd out more at www.agto.co.ukDavid recommends the coach- and group-friendly English Heritage properties, including Brodsworth Hall and Gardens in South Yorkshire….and Eltham Palace and Gardens in Greenwich, London.than 40 years, David – who was previously Sales and Marketing Director of City Cruises and, prior to that, Sales and Marketing Director of Catamaran Cruisers – also held the honorary post of Secretary of the Thames Passenger Boat Federation. He has been an integral part of AGTO since 1998, and serves on the committee of the Institute of Directors Central London Branch, which organises group visits and networking events for members.Over the years David’s taken groups to a whole host of attractions, and heard plenty of feedback from group travel organisers who’ve done the same. So which venues rate highly? “For an attraction that’s both coach-friendly and group-friendly, you can’t beat any National Trust or English Heritage property,” says David. “The staff at all these attractions will fall over backwards to help you, offering discounts, a meet and greet service and more. They really go above and beyond to make groups feel welcome. I’ve also heard good reports about the Royal Gardens at Highgrove, and I think Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in London is fantastic for groups. I know our AGTO members rave about both attractions.”