‘Best yet’ business development event, says CTA

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The Winter Networking event was held in Exeter. DIETMAR RABICH CC BY-SA 4.0

Coach Tourism Association (CTA) members say that the organisation’s recent winter networking event in Exeter was the ‘best ever’ for business development. Over 100 coach operators, wholesalers, and tourism suppliers attended the event on 19-20 November with significant new business potential and partnerships created as a result, the CTA reports.

“In our survey of members, many delegates reported that Winter Networking was the ‘best ever’ event for business development,” said CTA Chair Robert Shaw. “This was a result of the high attendance, including a strong showing of new buyer and supplier members, which created a lot of business potential. The opportunity to build new partnerships, all in one great location, is the reason for the popularity of CTA events.”

The event was sponsored by Visit Exeter, which was particularly keen to attract coach operators and wholesalers to the city and surrounding area to experience the winter opportunities. “We welcome many coach groups to our historic city in spring and summer, but there are great experiences during autumn and winter too,” said Claire Toze, Tourism Manager at Exeter City Council. “We were delighted to host CTA’s Winter Networking event and welcome so many coach operators, some of whom hadn’t visited the area before. The support from local Devon attractions was fantastic, and many operators told us that they will be coming back to Exeter in the near future.”

The event’s supplier workshop on the Monday included nearly 40 attractions and group travel suppliers presenting to coach operators and wholesalers to develop new products. The networking event also included nearly 20 local attractions at Sunday evening’s Devon Supplier Showcase, thanks to the support of Anne Blackham at Devon’s Top Attractions, which is keen to welcome coach groups year round.

Delegates also enjoyed a festive cruise along the River Exe, complete with mulled wine and mice pies, courtesy of Stuart Line Cruises which, despite blustery conditions, demonstrated how groups could enjoy a calm and stable cruise, year-round. Showing the importance of coach tourism to Exeter, Sunday evening’s networking dinner was attended by the Lord Mayor of Exeter.

“CTA would like to thank everybody who contributed to making Winter Networking and the pre-event fam a really successful event, including all members who attended. We look forward to seeing you at our next event, the 2024 Conference & Workshop, in Newcastle upon Tyne, in January,” added Robert.