Mike Bugsgang CEO AGTORECRUITMENT FOCUS – Chief ExecutiveMike Bugsgang reports on the Association of Group Travel Organisation’s current activities.

 
Group organisers, your trade association needs you! In 2015 the Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO) agreed a strategy that would initially conduct research among its members and the industry generally, build profile and awareness of the trade body, then undertake a rebranding exercise, including a change of name.Having successfully carried out these tasks, the next phase planned would be the recruitment of new members, especially group organisers.

ACTIVE MEMBERS
The important thing to bear in mind when seeking to recruit new members is that it’s not just about numbers. The Association has been in operation for 25 years and while GTO membership is open to all bona vide organisers who arrange anything from a couple of day trips a year to over 100, including overseas destinations, we are conscious that our Associate supplier members want to be assured that people they host on fams are active. Therefore, AGTO very carefully checks all new applications for membership and renewals.

BENEFITS Current benefits available to GTO members are particularly attractive. Topping the list is the highly discounted exclusive insurance policy through Towergate that can literally save an organiser hundreds of pounds. Other key benefits include free trade passes to many of the UK’s leading destinations such as those run by English Heritage and the National Trust. However, in a recent survey among members, two of the highest scoring benefits were the networking opportunities through the Association’s seven branches around Britain and being kept up-to-date with legislation affecting group travel.

EXPANDING NETWORK With these points in mind, we are now embarking on an extensive recruitment campaign that will embrace advertising, mailings, digital marketing, attendance at trade shows, PR and some innovative techniques not previously adopted by the Association.Ramsgate Tunnels

AGTO’s Kent Branch recently organised two fam trips for members to locations on their home patch. The first, to Do
ver, began with a visit to the town’s oldest property that now houses the Town Council. A wonderful display had been set up of the Mayoral and offi cial robes, and historical items and memorabilia including the mace, which was made in the 1600s. Other highlights included visits to the Roman Painted House and Dover Museum, followed by a walking tour of the town’s historic streets. The other trip was to the little known Ramsgate Tunnels. Reopened in 2014, the tunnels originally provided shelter for some 60,000 people with 1,000 taking up permanent residence during the Second World War. Ideal for group visits, you can now explore the tunnels and experience how people sheltered and lived in the town below the town.

It is encouraging to see that there has already been an uplift in membership numbers recently and we are delighted to welcome the following in to the Association:

GROUP TRAVEL ORGANISER MEMBERS
Yasmin Choudhury
Gill Denny
Jean Arnold
John Smith
Becky Cotterill
Margaret Giles
Patricia Jay
Janis Helliwell

ASSOCIATE SUPPLIER MEMBERS

Alfa Travel
Bluebell Railway
Constantinou Bros Hotels Cyprus
London Museum of Water & Steam
Mid Hants Railway ‘Watercress Line’ Trip Center

In addition, we are looking at ways to expand our network of branches around the country so that more members have access to AGTO locally. At £30 per annum, GTO membership represents outstanding value and we will obviously be communicating this fact strongly in our recruitment campaign. For membership information see the website www.agto.co.uk or telephone: 020 8253 4505. DIARY DATES ● A GTO Showcase Weekend, Dunston Hall Hotel, Norwich. October 28-20, 2016. ● AGTO AGM, Excursions Show, Alexandra Palace, North London. January 28, 2017. ● www.agto.co.uk