Convention Tours are an opportunity for fellow Group Coordinators to network with each other and Go Ahead staff in an exciting new destination. At our most recent Convention in Dublin, six-time Group Coordinator Verna was on hand to document the experience. Here’s what she had to say about it.
If you ever want to find a way to be with like-minded Group Coordinators, Conventions are the time and place to do that. From the time we flew into Dublin to the time it was over, we all really enjoyed our time at this October Convention. I think it was a combination of Robin and CJ along with Roland and Mattia, plus a very enthusiastic and friendly group of Coordinators, that made this time together so very special. A fellow Group Coordinator, Lynn, who has attended seven Conventions now, said this was the best out of all of the seven! That says something about the positive atmosphere from everyone.
Coming from the west coast always makes my husband and I some of the last to arrive, but there was Roland with a warm welcome and smiling face to greet us at the airport. When we arrived at our lovely hotel, CJ and Robin were there with a very warm greeting as well. I also had a lovely surprise as two of my new friends (whom I have met on our Group Coordinator Facebook page) were also there with a friendly greeting for me! What a beginning!
We had time to freshen up and off we went to a lovely pub called O’Donoghue’s, complete with a private room for our first toast to our time together in Dublin. We all visited around the room and personally got to know more of this positive group. I have to say that everyone was very nice and very friendly. I think all of these people embody what Go Ahead is looking for in their leaders. Next door was the excellent Bang! Restaurant where we headed for dinner. What a delicious meal was laid out for us! We all left in great spirits, ready for a good sleep.
The next day, we rose early for the Convention meeting. Robin, Director of Group Sales & Marketing, went over some of the highlights and recent updates to the Group Travel Program:
• No deposit required from Group Coordinators any longer.
• Smaller groups of no more than 35 people.
• Restructure of Group teams: You will now have a Tour Consultant to help set up your tour and also an Account Manager who will assist in flights, rewards points and anything that might arise for each person with your own group.
• A Private Tour has no extra cost after 26 people (good to know!).
Roland (in the Travel Department) also spoke to us regarding flights. He showed us a very interesting computer program that explains our flights much more easily and how he and his team arrive at the best possible flight plan for us. He stressed that we should call the emergency number if there is a delay in our flights.
Mattia (in Operations) then spoke about all of the land arrangements. He was very clear that he wants honest evaluations—these are read and highly regarded by him and his team.
And, coming soon! The Go Ahead Groups team will be launching an Ambassador program for any of us who are “old hats” at touring with groups. You would mentor new Group Coordinators, work as their resource for helping add personal touches to their tours and generally help them over the rough patches of getting started. Most of us have had a few bumps along the way and have sorted them out with help from others! There will be an application process coming soon for anyone interested in this excellent new program.
We broke into teams after a break and had a great time brainstorming about how to best recruit, keep interest going for a new trip and create lasting memories for our groups. When you put all of these people with great energy together, the room bursts with excitement and knowledge of ideas for group travel!
Here are some tips:
• Get out there and promote your tour!
• Take your business cards wherever you go.
• Take the time to listen to others as to where they may like to go next.
• Watch for promotions and if you don’t receive the emails, ask!
• Advertise in local magazines and papers; the cost is minimal.
• Host a dinner to introduce your latest tour, maybe at a local cafe or pub that has a menu from the area you want to travel to.
• Wine and cheese parties are great and easy to host at your own home.
We could have gone all day with this as we were all very enthusiastic about the great ideas that were bubbling up from this super good group. We had fun!
After a good lunch, we boarded our tour bus and our wonderful guide, Sean, gave us a super tour all around Dublin and into Trinity College to view the Book of Kells. It is beautiful and not to be missed while here. We capped our day off with an amazing tour of the Guinness Storehouse, where we all tried the ale and toasted a wonderful day.
The next day we toured the ancient Malahide Castle, learning the eight-hundred-year history of the family who lived here, from the time it was a stone- and dirt-floored hut to the sprawling, beautiful castle it is today. Later, we went to the lovely little fishing village of Howth where we enjoyed the fresh salty air and wandered down to the docks to sample some of the best seafood in the world. It doesn’t get any fresher than right off of the boats and into the pan!
We ended our day with an old-fashioned Irish dinner at the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin. We all went out together and interacted in such positive ways. Pubs were super for interactions with others. We were entertained with tales of Irish folklore and lively music!
I came home with a feeling of new energy and idea of new tours for the future. Robin also left us with a quote, “travel makes life better.” How right she is!
Thank you to Robin, CJ, Roland, Mattia, Sean and Tom (our driver) for a real Irish time!
Interested in becoming a Group Coordinator? Learn more about our Group Travel Program here.