James Day previews the upcoming Group Leisure Show, which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham on September 25.

Group Leisure Show

The Group Leisure & Travel Trade Show (GLTT), a major annual exhibition dedicated to group travel and coach tourism, is fast approaching. This year a major investment has been made to upgrade the level of free coach transport from around the UK, as well as the introduction of a new seminar programme to complement the exhibition. Those who pre-register to attend GLTT will also qualify for free parking at the NEC and are entered into a prize draw for an iPad Mini. Arrivals before 1100hrs can also claim a free bacon butty to start the day.

Free coach transport will be available from various destinations. For those interested in making use of this service, booking is available now via the show’s website www.leisureshow.com (along with a list of the free coach services) or by calling 01908 613323. This year, the show has worked with CoachMarque, Woods Coaches and Platinum Express to provide more collection points which have been added to the routes. These include Cambridge, Huntingdon, Nottingham, Peterborough, Leicester and Northampton, as well as usual collection points in London and further afield.

Platinum Express is also providing a local service covering the Midlands area. GLTT is urging visitors to book soon so that they can ensure a free seat.

Woods

The new seminar programme will tackle group travel issues and provide useful knowledge and ideas for upcoming trips and holidays. It starts at 1115hrs. Five seminars are planned to take place throughout the day, with visitors who have registered able to simply turn up to whichever seminars they wish to attend. The seminars are:

1115hrs: Insurance and Liability for Group Organisers ● 1245hrs: How to Find the Best Hotels for Groups ● 1330hrs: ‘10 Things I’d Do If I Were A Group Travel Organiser’ by Simon Calder; ● 1415hrs: World War One Centenary – What’s Happening At Home and Abroad; ● 1500hrs: Removing the Headache of Coach Travel into London.

There will also be another opportunity to quiz well-known travel journalist and TV presenter Simon Calder, in a special Q&A session taking place at 1200hrs in the networking area.

Organiser Emma Cash commented: “We are really focusing on helping group travel organisers and coach operators to meet the right people. The range of exhibitors coming together at the NEC will be offering a fantastic range of ideas, packages, special deals, interesting venues and advice. In particular I am sure our visitors will find the new seminars both meaningful and relevant for them, and I am also sure we can look forward to a great show on September 25 this year.

Pick of the Exhibitors

Alnwick Castle & Gardens Stand 351

One of the largest inhabited castles in England, Alnwick Castle is situated between Newcastle and Edinburgh, less than a mile off the A1. This makes it a very convenient destination for coach groups. The castle’s profile has risen over recent years, after being used as a film location for the Harry Potter franchise. On the same stand is the Alnwick Garden, which features acres of plants, water sculptures, the famous Poison Garden and one of the world’s largest wooden treehouses. Both venues have widely varied events calendars throughout the year, from historic tours to water fights, so it’s worth paying the stand a visit to find out the latest dates to consider for your itinerary.

BBC Tours Stand 433

The BBC offers tours of a number of its broadcasting centres, for both TV and radio. This ranges from a tour of the new BBC Broadcasting House in London, the corporation’s facilities at MediaCityUK in Salford and local radio centres in Cornwall, Lancashire, Nottingham and more. BBC Tours has won awards for its group travel offering in the past, so the show could be a great place to arrange a special deal to visit some of the most iconic locations in British broadcasting.

Bletchley Park Trust Stand 217

Bletchley Park, famous as the place where the Enigma Code was broken in World War Two, will be promoting its new visitor centre in Block C at the attraction. The centre includes a shop, café and toilets, as well as space for new exhibitions, which are to be unveiled over the coming months and years – perhaps even at the show! The centre has gone through quite a transformation. It fell into disuse in the late 1980s and by 2013, when the Heritage Lottery Fund £8m restoration project began, it had trees growing through its roof. Around 150 walls have been removed and the building has been restored to its original, open plan layout.

City Sightseeing Stand 317

A common site in many major cities around the world, City Sightseeing provides tours on open-top buses and boats, with audio commentary in a number of different languages. Obviously, the vehicles and vessels in question are designed to carry large volumes of people, making them perfect for groups. Group discounts improve as groups get larger. The discount stands at 10% for 10-19 passengers, 15% for 20-29 and 20% for 30-39. If you’re planning to bring a group of 40 or more to travel with City Sightseeing, have a word with the staff on the stand, who may be able to offer further discounts and benefits.

City Sightseeing bus IMG_4993

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Stand 321

Fred. Olsen has some of the best group offerings available, even willing to organise special events to showcase its vessels for GTOs. The company has won several awards for its group-friendly offering. Benefits include free travel for the group leader, funding towards coach transfers to and from the departure port and free onboard spending credit, ranging from £25-£150 depending on the cruise chosen. There are many more perks for groups, however, so be sure to have a chat with the staff on the stand to find out just how far the cruise line’s group offering reaches.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not GTOA Area

The weird and wonderful London attraction is one of the most recent to confirm its place at the show. With an excellent location in Piccadilly Circus and with exhibits to interest visitors of all ages, the museum of all things unusual and unbelievable is always an excellent choice for group visits. Visit them in the GTOA area to find out what deals are available.

Salisbury Cathedral Stand 447

Salisbury Cathedral is viewed by many coach operators as a great alternative to Stonehenge. With visits to the stone circle taking considerably longer than they used to, the stunning venue is an excellent choice. The cathedral is 20 minutes away from Stonehenge and has a nearby coach drop-off point five minutes walk away. Throughout 2015, the cathedral is celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, displaying the finest preserved of four surviving 1215 documents. Further details of the celebrations will be available at the show. Salisbury Cathedral has had quite an extensive events diary throughout 2014, so 2015 promises to be even busier.

Warner Leisure Hotels Stand 437

The famous hotel chain of Warner has plenty of experience dealing with groups, with sizes ranging from 20 to 400 and employing its own dedicated groups team. A number of special benefits and discounts are on offer for both the GTO and the group itself. If you’re interested, head over to the stand and explain when and where you want to visit, and let the Warner team take care of the rest.

Windmere Lake Cruises Stand 455

Offering a number of different group and school packages, Windermere Lake Cruises is one of the best ways to explore the UK’s largest lake. On-board facilites on many of the vessels include bars and/or tea bars. Prices start at £6.40 per adult, a discount of 20%, with the group organiser sailing free. Prices vary depending on which specific cruise is chosen and rates apply before 1030hrs and after 1600hrs. Head over to the stand for more details on the variety of different cruises on offer and for details of pricing beyond March 2015.

Woburn Abbey & Gardens Stand 325

Another venue with clear benefits for the group travel trade, Woburn Abbey and Gardens offers discounts for groups of 12 or more when booked in advance. Free admission is offered to GTOs for a pre-visit, along with a number of other benefits. Guided tours and special visits for educational groups are also available, along with catering packages on-site. On the Woburn stand, staff can also detail whether there are events year-round which may be worth timing your visit to catch.

Group Travel World Stand 411

We are exhibiting at the show ourselves. If you would like to meet the GTW team and discuss the magazine, pay us a visit at stand 411.

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For the full list of exhibitors visit www.leisureshow.com