Introducing the new owners of GTO

After a difficult couple of years during the pandemic, it’s been announced that Landor Travel Publications, the publishers of GTO Magazine, is being closed.

However, the exciting news is that the magazine and other activities have been sold to two people whose faces will be familiar to many long-established readers – Jamie Cash and Chris Cheek. The sale encompasses the magazine itself and other activities including the popular travel shows, the long-established Group Travel Awards and the Group Travel Business Forum.

The Group Grapevine caught up with them both and chatted about their previous careers with the magazine and their plans for the future.

We spoke first to Jamie Cash and asked first about his previous career with GTO. “I joined first as Editor in May 1995,” he said. “I’d been organising lots of group trips at what is now Canterbury Christ Church University for a few years. I’d come to appreciate the value of the magazine to organisers like me – so when the chance came along to join the publishers as editor, I was very interested.”

Jamie recalls that it was a busy and exciting time, because in addition to editing the print magazine ten times a year, he helped to launch the much-loved Group Travel Awards (first held as long ago as 1997) and then the whole internet revolution was getting under way. “We were also helping GTOA (now AGTO, the Association of Group Travel Organisers),” he recalls. There were trade shows and tourist board events to visit all over the country, at which Jamie got to know huge numbers of readers and travel trade representatives.

“Throughout my fifteen years with the magazine, the aspect I loved most was the people – meeting them, chatting, getting to understand organisers’ problems and aspirations – it was a great time,” he recalls. “And that’s what I’m most looking forward to – connecting with old friends and making new ones within the world of group travel.”

Jamie left LTP in 2010 and since then has been involved in a number of activities notably as events director for Transport Events Group (TEG), organiser of the UK Bus Awards and the UK Coach Awards, where he worked with Chris until the latter’s retirement in 2018.

Chris Cheek told us that his involvement with GTO Magazine dated all the way back to the launch issue in the autumn of in 1988. After that, he was a director and consultant editor for over twenty years until May 2009.

“I knew from my own experience in the coach industry how difficult it was to reach group organisers – nobody knew who they were. We worked very hard and did loads of research to find them. I’ve always been very proud of the work we did in the early days of the magazine to help create a sense of community amongst group organisers.”

“Writing the theatre and entertainment pages every month was great fun,” he recalls. “It was a complete contrast with my other work as a transport consultant and I’ve always loved the theatre, so it was a perfect combination, really.”

“Like Jamie, I enjoyed manning exhibition and travel trade stands, so I could meet readers and members of the travel trade. Travel and tourism has always been such a friendly industry.”

Chris is looking forward very much to getting involved again. “I’m really glad of the chance to help take this all forward in the post-Covid age,” he said. “Life has changed in so many ways since 1988 – but what has not changed is the huge potential for group travel, and the thirst that group organisers have for ideas, information and advice.”

So what of the future? “The short answer is ‘watch this space’, really,” Jamie told us. “We need to take some time to review all the various activities and make some decisions, but we’re very much hoping to go ahead with the Go Travel Show on 22 April and this year’s Group Travel Awards in June.”

And what about the magazine? “We’re certainly committed to maintaining an online presence with an e-news service along the lines of The Group Grapevine,” Chris replied. “If the advertising revenue is there and we can make the economics stack up, we’d still like to produce a print magazine as well – we recognise that this is still important to many of our readers.”

“We’ve got tons of ideas,” added Jamie. “So there’s lots to work through, as well as managing the change of ownership. We’ll be making formal announcements early in the New Year. In the meantime, if you have any queries about the magazine, awards or any of the travel shows, please e-mail us at hello@grouptravelorganiser.com.”