Improving online presence; Online communications are an important part of any organisation and it’s something the CTC continually reviews.
Last year, we launched the consumer website, www.findacoachholiday.com, to exclusively promote our coach operator members and at the start of this year, it was decided to redesign and rebuild the B2B website, www.coachtourismcouncil.com, which is the main showcase for the CTC.
A key factor in the new design was to make everything more accessible and user-friendly and we believe this has been achieved in the new site, which recently went live. It’s easier to navigate with open access to almost everything there is to know about the CTC on the homepage.
News and events are clearly highlighted while members can now make updates on-line. A new feature provides suppliers with opportunities to promote their news stories and new products to the membership. There is also a new section highlighting the benefits of becoming a CTC member and, naturally, listings of all members in appropriate categories. Companies becoming a new CTC Partner – Wightlink Ferries is the first – also have an enhanced position on the homepage.
In particular, the new site is a great vehicle to promote CTC events and familiarisation trips, with which we have had a very busy summer. ‘The Home of Racing’, Newmarket Racecourse showed why the Rowley Mile and July courses are great venues for a day out when hosting a group of CTC members to a day at the races recently, which included a superb lunch and tea in their hospitality marquees overlooking the July course.
Channel 4 racing pundit Derek Thompson explained how to bet – and why even experts cannot pick all the winners! – while Newmarket’s sales and marketing director, Adrian Simpson, underlined why racing can be attractive to even non-racegoers. With stars such as Tom Jones performing at evening concerts during the summer and also the ‘must visit’ National Horse Racing Museum, there is plenty to appeal to any group.
During the year, the CTC also runs a number of coach taster trips to promote coach touring to consumer journalists from national newspapers and magazines and, of course, regionals. These produce great features and lots of column inches showing why short breaks by coach are so attractive.
The latest trip to London did just that and was a great opportunity to show the media why the capital is still a mecca for groups, a fact underlined by visits to the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament and the National Maritime Museum, as well as Greenwich itself. Giving the trip that extra buzz was a showboat dinner cruise with City Cruises – surely the best way to see London at night – and a trip to the theatre, kindly arranged by Group Line with tickets to see the hit musical Million Dollar Quartet.
I’ve also recently returned from a familiarisation trip with Atout France to the Champagne-Ardennes, and lesser known champagne houses and attractions around Troyes. Certainly an area worth visiting on a tour or as an overnight stop enroute to far flung destinations. As mentioned last month, in October, CTC members will be catching up with what’s new in Dublin and the East Coast on a familiarisation trip hosted by Tourism Ireland.
Finally, we are always delighted to welcome new members and the latest to join the CTC are Leaf Hotels in Kent, Cedar Court Hotels in Yorkshire, and Hampton by Hilton and the Holiday Inn Riverlights, both in Derby. Also joining is tour planner Ashley & Newey and wholesaler Select Travel Portfolio and, last but not least, Salisbury Cathedral.