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The CATO Crisis Risk Resilience Conference

The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) successfully conducted its first Crisis, Risk and Resilience Conference post-pandemic. The conference, held on Monday, provided participants with 11 educational sessions filled with insights and strategic takeaways to navigate the current and future landscape.

MC Mark Carter, an internationally recognised Speaker, Trainer and Coach, set the stage with an invigorating and dynamic presentation on risk scenarios and crisis management, drawing upon his past experience with Contiki Holidays.

Among the esteemed lineup of speakers, Chad Carey and Meg Hall of Chimu Adventures provided a moving recollection of their experience in evacuating hundreds of guests from South America , highlighting the importance of connections and strategic communication during the onset of the pandemic.

Ian Gerard of the Consular and Crisis Management Division, DFAT, outlined the role of DFAT's dedicated Crisis Centre during the pandemic and its ongoing role, whilst explaining the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework.

CATO Board Member, lawyer and travel law specialist Aaron Zoanetti of Pointon Partners, addressed, the importance of planning and duty of care to customers, whilst providing a deeply valuable session on responsibilities and liabilities of the Agent versus Principal, and mitigating personal and commercial risk from your daily activity.

Brad Kelly and Michael Truong from Gow-Gates Insurance spoke on the value of assessing organisational vulnerability in times of crisis and the importance of insurance, while Greg Hay, Head of Operations at Sydney Airport shared incredible and engaging insights into disaster preparation and emergency plans, highlighting importance of safeguarding workforce, communication, preparedness, scenario training and continual investment. The morning concluded with Silver Sponsor Ebury Partners speaking on foreign currency exchange solutions.

The afternoon session commenced with Nik Devidas of Rock IT shifting the focus to Cyber Security, emphasising the need for a secure culture, strategic planning, and data-driven decision making. CATO members will receive a complimentary cyber incident response plan, and additional opportunities for Security Awareness Training and Cyber Security Assessment.

An enlightening panel discussion followed featuring industry leaders from various sectors, including Adventure, Student, Touring, FIT, and Youth, explored the shifts in travel destination priorities, new technologies, and current trends in a post-pandemic world, providing shared insights on the resilience of tour operators and the growing trend of purposeful travel.

Allisa O’Connell, Head of People and Culture at the Flight Centre Travel Group, shared a candid evaluation of her personal experience on Crisis Leadership, focusing on the crucial role of data, communication, understanding values and trust within a team.

The event culminated in an insightful wrap-up session with MC Mark Carter and CATO Chair, Dennis Bunnik. The closing remarks emphasised the importance of communication, continual learning, and trust in our teams.

The positive feedback from our members and the wider industry confirms that our months of planning resulted in a truly insightful and engaging event. We are grateful to all speakers who generously gave up their time to provide valuable insights and learnings to all attendees.

We were delighted to have had Smartraveller, Ebury Partners and Gow-Gates Insurance as our key sponsors of the Crisis, Risk and Resilience Conference, and thank them for their support.