Managing Director of the Council of Australian Tour Operators, Brett Jardine, has labelled 2019 as a “breakout year” for the organisation as its stature continues to rise.
Jardine made the remarks in Sydney last Thursday at the second CATO Christmas Lunch, surrounded by senior executives from a number of key retail partners including Flight Centre Travel Group, Travellers Choice, Express Travel Group, TravelManagers at ATAC.
Attendees included CATO’s Chairman Dennis Bunnik, several board members (including Life Member Peter Bailey), and guests from AFTA; Tom Manwaring, Christian Hunter and Jayson Westbury.
Jardine reflected on a number of highlights from the year, including CATO’s second Crisis Management conference in February, the debut of a quarterly digital trade title dedicated to land-supply content, Ground Control, culminating with the inaugural CATO Awards in July as part of the AFTA National Travel Industry Awards.
“What made the CATO Awards even possible was the generosity of AFTA through 15 minutes of the spotlight within the NTIA program,” he said, applauding Westbury and the AFTA team.
CATO will use this year’s event as a “springboard” for its own standalone event in 2020. The cocktail function, which Jardine insists will not be “just another awards event” nor clash with the NTIA program, will feature 14 awards for top-selling consultants and agencies.
“I’d also like to stress that the CATO awards are not about looking within to reward ourselves as the tour operators and wholesalers. The idea here is for the CATO members to work together in acknowledging stand-out performers from the retail sector,” Jardine explained.
Other initiatives achieved in the year included the release of a Research Report on international travel, providing CATO with the ability to now “confidently quote and be quoted as an official source of quality material focussed on our sector”.
The year has also ended with a bang following the release of the Ground Control consumer-facing magazine, which will provide members with awareness and engagement directly with the public. To date, the online launch issue reached an audience of 115,000 inboxes.
Guest speaker at the lunch was Better Homes and Gardens editor-in-chief, Julia Zaetta.
The event was sponsored by Singapore Airlines, and GHS, Tour Atlas and MaCher.
Lead image: Dennis Bunnik, Karl Schubert, Singapore Airlines and Brett Jardine. Image credit: Lisa Maroun, Enspired+