Now in its 42nd year the Excursions™ one day-group travel show, which took place at Alexandra Palace on Saturday 27th January, continued to impress both exhibitors and visitors alike with many attending the dynamic exhibition for the first time.
Special guests who attended the show by personal invitation from coach tour operators enjoyed exclusive access to the Mary Rose Experience where they discovered more about Henry VIII's favourite ship and were able to handle some replica artefacts and real objects from the Mary Rose. They were also treated to a wine reception and sommelier presentation from Denbies Wine Estate on arrival.
Honoured to be asked by Tourism South East to host the VIP area within the show floor, Paul Griffiths, Head of Operations/Managing Director (Trading Company) at the Mary Rose Museum commented; "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. We can't wait to exhibit again next year."
Many exhibitors took the opportunity to launch something new at the show including Greatdays Travel Group, the New Lanark Mill World Heritage Site and the Belgian Tourist Office-Wallonia, while others brought along their mascots including Lenny the Lemur from Marwell Zoo and Roman legions in full costume from Butser Ancient Farm.
The hourly Matinee Shows presented by Groups Direct in association with James R Hearn attracted a large audience with realistic tribute artists performing popular songs from both Frankie Valli and Shirley Bassey, while the Hambledon Vineyard feature stand was constantly busy with visitors enjoying a free tasting of their refreshing sparkling wine.
The new Visitor Connect system, which enables visitors to keep in contact with the exhibitors they have spoken to after the show from a simple scan of their badge barcode proved a great success. Emma McMillan, Groups Director from Dave Urquhart Travel was particularly impressed with the new system, "The scanner was very quick and easy to use enabling us to add notes for future reference, saving juggling around with paper or tablet computers."
Delighted with Excursions™ ongoing success, 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 and we would like to thank all those who came along to the show, and our many exhibitors, for making it a great day out. We were also very pleased AGTO chose Excursions™ as the venue for their AGM for the second year in succession and look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2019."
Exhibiting at the show from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Ellie Fulcher said; "People were queuing on our stand all day long, with lots of new contacts for group trips," while Anthony Brunt from Exmoor Walking Holidays confirmed it was "A show not to be missed" and Andy Holmes from Norman Allen said Excursions was "the best show he had been to". Ben Walker, Groups Officer from the Ironbridge Gorge Museums sharing the Shropshire Star Attractions stand commented that he had "Some very good conversations with a lot people including several from the U3A and Women's Institute".
Visitor and coach tourism consultant Stuart Render said; "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".
The show is organised by Tourism South East. For more information, visit http://www.excursionsshow.com , follow Excursions™ on Twitter @Excursionsshow for news and updates or visit the show's Facebook page at 'Excursions: Group Travel Trade Exhibition'.
Picture kindly provided by Stuart Render Tourism