CATO News
All the latest news, updates and activity from the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) 

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  • Wed, February 05, 2020 12:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CATO is delighted to advise that the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has released its updated Advertising Code of Conduct for ATAS Participants.

    The new code addresses the use of 'artificial' pricing that we have seen in the marketplace for a few years now.

    In 2019, CATO took a stand against unethical and misleading 'travel deals' advertising, with the organisation's Chairman, Dennis Bunnik, being particularly vocal on the issue. Many will recall Bunnik pressing for change at CATO's June 2019 AGM where he was quoted as saying, "the use of 'typically' or 'valued at' pricing is often so unrealistic it is laughable"—something that was widely reported in travel industry media at the time.

    Through the latter part of 2019, CATO continued to advocate for change to the code, working closely with AFTA and writing to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to raise our concerns with the practice.

    As ATAS accreditation is mandated for Full Members of CATO, the new guidelines affect those tourism operators.

    Details on the new code can be found HERE.

    And you can DOWNLOAD the guidelines HERE.

    For more details or queries, please contact Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO at bjardine@cato.travel


  • Wed, January 29, 2020 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • The stand-alone awards event is set for Friday, 23rd October. 
    • Exciting venue announced: Hyatt Regency Hotel, Sydney.

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has made its venue announcement for the 2020 CATO Awards, and released tantalising details of the event format.

    Image: The Hyatt Regency Hotel, Sydney.

    “The CATO Awards will not be just another awards night", said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    "We have an exciting venue and a unique format to deliver maximum engagement as we recognise excellence in the retail travel sector," he added.

    Image: CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    In a fresh take on the awards night structure, the seated formalities will be completed in under 90 minutes, leaving plenty of time for pre-drinks, networking, grazing from live cooking stations, hitting the dance-floor and sampling delicious roaming canapés and desserts from around the world.

    “We want everyone who attends the CATO Awards to spend more time interacting and celebrating than seated and watching an awards ceremony,” noted Jardine.

    Image: Food stations at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Sydney. Credit: Scott Ehler.

    The primary purpose of the CATO Awards is for the land-supply sector to recognise the outstanding achievements of retail travel agents as well as trade and mainstream media. But, as Brett Jardine points out, there’s plenty in it for CATO members, too, despite not being up for awards themselves.

    “The interactive nature of the awards night, and the promotional lead-up to it, offer brilliant opportunities for tour operators, wholesalers and suppliers to engage deeply with their retail partners and showcase their unique offerings,” said Jardine.

    Image: Brett Jardine presenting the 2019 CATO Awards.

    The CATO Awards categories focus on areas of specialisation offered by CATO Members.

    Winners will be crowned in the following categories:

    • Agency of the Year – Europe
    • Agency of the Year – Americas
    • Agency of the Year – Asia
    • Agency of the Year - Africa/Middle East
    • Agency of the Year – Oceania
    • Consultant of the Year - Group Touring
    • Consultant of the Year – Adventure
    • Consultant of the Year - Youth Travel
    • Consultant of the Year – Ski
    • Consultant of the Year - F.I.T
    • Rookie of the Year
    • Trade Media Award
    • Consumer Media Award
    • CATO Hall of Fame Award

    Full details of the CATO Awards nomination process will be announced in the coming months.

    CATO Awards Need-to-Knows

    • Date: Friday 23rd October 2020
    • Location: Hyatt Regency Hotel, 161 Sussex Street, Sydney
    • Tickets: Just $150 per person
    • Cocktail dress code
    • 6.00pm till late

    Tickets are limited. Grab yours HERE!

    "Bring your dance shoes and join the CATO community as we acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of CATO's retail and media partners," said Jardine.

    Contact CATO to find out more about tailored sponsorship opportunities.


  • Mon, January 06, 2020 9:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The latest issue of CATO's dedicated digital travel trade magazine is available to download right now.

    Shining a light on Australia’s land-supply travel sector, Ground Control is a publication we're really proud of.

    If you haven't already downloaded Issue 4, simply CLICK HERE and follow the prompts.

    In this issue you'll find fascinating features about:

    • New touring options for 2020
    • Travel and tourism technology
    • Artificial intelligence in travel planning
    • Understanding your refund liability
    • The 2020 CATO Awards program
    • The Brexit effect on travel
    • World Expeditions' list of 2020's most underrated adventure destinations
    • London's best views
    • Beyond the battlefields of Northern France
    • The perfect 'White Christmas' destinations
    • An intriguing blend of fashion and the tropics in the Seychelles
    • Exciting famil trip opportunities for travel agents in 2020
    • Travel health and photography tips

    We also showcase some fabulous global tours and experiences, and chat to brilliant industry insiders like Hands On Journeys' Simla Sooboodoo.

    Please be sure to share Ground Control with your colleagues, friends and families, or point them at the SUBSCRIBE link so they can receive their very own copy of each edition!

    Happy reading from everyone at the Council of Australian Tour Operators, and here's to a brilliant 2020.


  • Tue, December 31, 2019 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2019 was a break-out year for the Council of Australian Tour Operators.

    Huge, in fact.

    Year-round behind the scenes, CATO's advocacy for the land supply sector and travel trade more broadly is ongoing. There was plenty of it this year, in particular tackling unethical and deceptive advertising.

    Significantly, CATO made a submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding the use of ‘typically’ or ‘valued at’ pricing which, it says, is clearly designed to mislead the consumer into thinking they are getting a better deal than they actually are.

    "We’re not going to be letting this one go," said CATO Chairman, Dennis Bunnik.

    Image: Dennis Bunnik (left) with guests at the CATO Christmas lunch in Sydney.

    So, what else did CATO get up to in 2019?

    Here are a few highlights.

    FEBRUARY

    In February we delivered our 2nd Crisis Management conference.

    At the event sponsored by Risk Logic, attendees heard from crisis management experts on a range of topics including communications, public relations, legal, insurance, leadership and planning.

    Image: Highlights from CATO's Crisis Management conference.

    MARCH

    In March, CATO launched Ground Control—a quarterly digital magazine dedicated to the travel trade filled with news, views and updates from the Australian travel industry's land-supply sector.

    Image: The inaugural issue of CATO's Ground Control magazine.

    APRIL

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) hosted tour operators, travel wholesalers and retail networks at a ground breaking event in Sydney focused on the youth sector.

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine, opened the event with an in-depth assessment of data focused on Australia’s 18-35’s.

    Other presenters at the event included Sean Martin – General Manager of Student Flights and the Flight Centre Travel Groups Youth Touring; Katrina Barry - Managing Director at Contiki; Brett Mitchell, Regional Director at Intrepid; Daniel Thorne – Head of Sales for Top Deck APAC and Brendan Roberts – Global Head of Business Development at TourRadar.

    JUNE

    CATO held an Extraordinary General Meeting to accept a revamped constitution following a full review of the current version implemented in June 2014 at the time of deregulation of the Australian Travel Industry.

    The primary outcome from the revamped constitution was to acknowledge the growing engagement from Associate Members by allowing participation as Board Members, something historically reserved for full tour operator/wholesale members only.

    The meeting took place in Sydney in conjunction with CATO’s AGM, and included elections to confirm the make-up of the next term of CATO Board members.

    Image: The elected CATO Board.

    Those elections confirmed Martin Edwards, Bench Africa as Vice Chairman, and Board members Brett Mitchell, Intrepid Travel Group; Julie King, Julie King & Associates; Amanda McCann, Collette; Matt Cameron-Smith, AAT Kings; David Walker, Sno'n'Ski; Halina Kubica, Greece & Mediterranean Travel; Justine Waddington, Encounter Travel and Liz Anderson, Sundowners Overland.

    In June we also appointed our first official communications agency, Resource, to drive CATO's messaging to increase trade and consumer awareness of the land-supply sector.

    JULY

    We presented the inaugural CATO Awards in a dedicated stream of accolades at the National Travel Industry Awards thanks to the generosity and support of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA).

    The CATOs were such a success, we're thrilled to advise that they will be run as a stand-alone event in 2020.

    Image: CATO's Brett Jardine (right) with the inaugural CATO Award winners.

    Issue 2 of Ground Control magazine is published.

    SEPTEMBER

    Issue 3 of Ground Control magazine is published.

    OCTOBER

    In October, CATO delivered its 'International Leisure Travel Trends' report—a new benchmark view of Australia’s outbound leisure travel market.

    Based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and CATO's own extensive consumer survey of international travellers the report is focused on international leisure travel from Australia.

    The 'International Leisure Travel Trends' report was pushed to consumer and trade media, positioning CATO as a credible source of insights into our sector. 

    DECEMBER

    Building on the success of its quarterly trade publication, Ground Control, CATO launched 'Your Travel Magazine'—its own dedicated consumer publication.


    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine, said, "Your Travel Magazine is a very exciting addition to our ongoing awareness and engagement strategy to promote key messages for the land supply sector. This is a joint venture with the publisher of Ground Control magazine and CATO Associate Member, Travel Brochures."

    Your Travel Magazine will be delivered to more than 115,000 qualified leads that are planning to travel in the next 12-18 months.

    In December, the 4th edition of Ground Control was published.

    The 20th CATO annual Christmas lunch is held in Sydney.

    "To have 130 members of the CATO community, along with members of the travel industry media, guests from Australia's major retail consortia and sponsors in the same room was a very satisfying way to reflect on a break-out year for CATO," said Brett Jardine.

    Image: Brett Jardine welcome guests to CATO's Christmas lunch in Sydney.

    The event's guest speaker was Julia Zaetta—Editor in Chief at Better Homes and Gardens, and one of the most successful and the longest-serving editors in Australian publishing history.


  • Fri, December 13, 2019 11:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators hosted its 20th annual Christmas lunch for Members, Associate Members and invited guests at L'Aqua Terrace Room at Cockle Bay in Sydney's Darling Harbour.


    "Once again, our Christmas gathering was a brilliant event," said CATO's Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    "To have 130 members of the CATO community, along with members of the travel industry media, guests from Australia's major retail consortia and sponsors in the same room was a very satisfying way to reflect on a break-out year for CATO," he added.


    Jardine's opening address welcomed everyone, and described the organisation's impressive list of achievements for the year including:

    • The launch of CATO's dedicated travel trade publication, Ground Control magazine.
    • The launch of the new digital Your Travel Magazine for consumers.
    • The inaugural CATO Awards stream at the National Travel Industry Awards.
    • The announcement that the CATO Awards will be a stand-alone event in 2020.
    • The release of CATO’s 'Australians on Holiday - International Leisure Travel Trends' research report into Australia’s outbound leisure market.
    • Delivery of CATO’s 2nd Crisis Management conference.
    • The appointment of a specialist communications partner, Resource. 


    Image: CATO Chairman, Dennis Bunnik, with invited guests.

    This was followed by a speech from CATO Chairman, Dennis Bunnik, who acknowledged Jardine's efforts.

    "I speak to Brett on the phone at least 2-3 times per week and the amount of energy and enthusiasm he has for this organisation is incredible," said Bunnik.


    Bunnik went on to describe CATO's important behind-the-scenes industry advocacy work.

    "In the past 6 months this has been focused on assisting members through the collapse of Tempo Holidays, and more recently challenges experienced by One Ocean Expeditions.  In the case of Tempo we’ve been part of the debate and discussion around consumer protection. For One Ocean the focus has been on finding out exactly what is going on and then helping impacted members navigate the legalities," he said.


    Bunnik also recognised the support of AFTA - the Australian Federation of Travel Agents.

    "AFTA have always been a great supporter of CATO and we certainly value the relationship. From a CATO perspective we continue to work with AFTA for the greater good of the travel industry," he added.


    "CATO also continues to tackle unethical and misleading advertising which has been a significant issue for the industry over the past year. CATO has made a submission to the ACCC regarding the use of ‘typically’ or ‘valued at’ pricing which is clearly designed to mislead the consumer into thinking they are getting a better deal than they actually are. We’re not going to be letting this one go," he asserted. 

    Karl Schubert, Public Relations Manager, South West Pacific for the event's major sponsor, Singapore Airlines, gave an entertaining review of the airline's year in the context of bottles of fine French bubbly consumed in its premium cabins, and this rhythmic introduction to the airline's new A350 aircraft.


    Image: Guest speaker, Julia Zaetta, takes the stage and steals the show.

    Over the course of lunch, the event's guest speaker, Julia Zaetta—Editor in Chief at Better Homes and Gardens, and one of the most successful and the longest-serving editors in Australian publishing history—brought the house down with insights and anecdotes from her decades in senior editorial positions in the magazine publishing houses of Messrs Packer, Murdoch and Stokes.

    “To hear such an accomplished woman, a major force in Australian publishing, speak of her successes and failures in the high-stakes world of magazines and media was a real privilege, and not something anyone at our Christmas lunch will forget in a hurry,” said Brett Jardine.


  • Wed, December 11, 2019 12:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Building on the tremendous success of its custom travel trade publication, Ground Control, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has released the first edition of its new consumer-facing digital publication, Your Travel Magazine.


    This is a unique communications platform as it is the only publication dedicated exclusively to the land-supply sector, connecting it directly with more than 115,000 active Australian travellers.

    Created expressly to ensure land touring options remain at the forefront of consideration and decision-making among regular international travellers, Your Travel Magazine showcases CATO Members, their products, news and promotions.

    "We're delighted to add this unique publication to our communications mix, and to diversify our communications strategy for CATO members," said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.


    "The launch edition is filled with a wide range of touring styles and destinations offering readers a huge choice. Importantly, the digital format which seamlessly adapts to whatever device readers are using, also means calls-to-action redirect conveniently to the relevant operator’s desired landing pages,” added Jardine.


    The launch edition of Your Travel Magazine has feature stories about …

    • What’s new for touring in 2020
    • Bucket list destinations you might not even know about
    • An Insider’s Guide to Madrid
    • Why the Seychelles are making waves

    Your Travel Magazine is a partnership with the highly respected publisher of Ground Control magazine, Well Travelled and CATO Associate Member Travel Brochures (Leads Corp Pty Ltd).

    A quarterly digital publication, Your Travel Magazine is delivered directly to the inboxes of more than 115,000 Australians who have opted-in to receive travel planning information.

    Readers can subscribe to receive the magazine free RIGHT HERE!

    For more info, contact Brett Jardine at bjardine@cato.travel


  • Wed, November 13, 2019 4:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • The inaugural CATO Awards were delivered within the NTIA program in 2019.
    • The 2020 CATO Awards will be presented across 14 categories, up from four in 2019.

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has announced that the 2020 CATO Awards will be proudly delivered as a stand-alone event. The awards ceremony will take place at a lavish cocktail function in Sydney on the evening of Friday 23rd October.

    Image: Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO presenting the CATO Awards stream at the 2019 National Travel Industry Awards.

    The CATO Awards are an opportunity for Australia’s Land Supply sector to recognise the valued support it receives from travel agents and the retail travel trade.

    The inaugural CATO Awards were presented within the Australian Federation of Travel Agents' (AFTA) National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) program in 2019.

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine, said, “This is not just another awards event! This is an opportunity for our members from the land-supply sector to come together under the CATO banner to recognise excellence in the retail travel sector.”


    Image: Brett Jardine (right) with the inaugural CATO Award recipients in 2019.

    In 2020, CATO Awards will be presented in the following categories:

    • Agency of the Year - Europe
    • Agency of the Year - Americas
    • Agency of the Year - Asia
    • Agency of the Year - Africa/Middle East
    • Agency of the Year - Oceania
    • Consultant of the Year - Group Touring
    • Consultant of the Year - Adventure
    • Consultant of the Year - Youth Travel
    • Consultant of the Year - Ski
    • Consultant of the Year - F.I.T
    • Rookie of the Year
    • Trade Media Award
    • Consumer Media Award
    • CATO Ambassador Award

    “Following the tremendous support and opportunity provided by AFTA in 2019, the CATO’s will be a showcase event on the 2020 travel industry calendar incorporating up to fourteen award categories that specifically recognise agencies and consultants that are stand-out performers across a number of specialty areas,” added Jardine.

    Details confirming the venue and awards criteria will be announced to the trade in early 2020.


  • Fri, October 18, 2019 10:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) is set to launch a new consumer title called Your Travel Magazine.
    • Your Travel Magazine will be a quarterly publication optimised for mobile and tablet consumption.

    Building on the tremendous success of its travel trade publication Ground Control, CATO is delighted to announce the launch a new consumer-facing publication targeting active travellers.

    Your Travel Magazine will be a quarterly digital magazine delivered to the inboxes of more than 115,000 Australians who have opted-in to receive travel product information.


    This highly qualified audience will see the land supply sector showcased on every page. And using the same technology as Ground Control, the magazine will be fully optimised for mobile and tablet for a premium multi-platform user experience.

    "We're delighted to announce the launch of Your Travel Magazine," said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    "In particular, we're excited about showcasing the depth and breadth of the Australian land-supply sector directly to engaged travellers," he added.

    Advertising rates have been set to ensure operators and affiliates large and small can take part, and discounts exist for those who invest in both CATO publications.

    Your Travel Magazine and Ground Control are exciting pillars of CATO's ongoing awareness and engagement strategy that puts the land supply sector's key messages and products in front of more than 5,000 retail agents and 115,000 travellers who are ready to plan and book.

    Your Travel Magazine is a partnership with the highly respected publisher of Ground Control—Well Travelled—and CATO Associate Member, Travel Brochures (Leads Corp Pty Ltd).

    The Your Travel Magazine Media Kit can be downloaded at the link below. 
    Your Travel Magazine MEDIA KIT-2019.pdf

  • Fri, August 23, 2019 3:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    • Where is the legal line between the two definitions? What are the potential ramifications of stepping over it?
    • Many Australian travel agents might not realise that they have already acted as tour operators.

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today raised concerns for retail agents that look directly to overseas operators when packaging itineraries and creating custom tours for clients.

    Examples of this might include an Australian retail agent working directly with a local ground operator in France’s Champagne region to create a private cycling journey; or with a US based operator to develop a unique New York shopping tour for its own customers. Or it could be as simple as contracting airport transfers directly with a local service provider.

    CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine said that, “Where an agent is piecing together components from off-shore suppliers—as opposed to suppliers with a commercial presence in Australia—there is the possibility for unintended consequences like the agent being deemed a tour operator and, therefore, potentially liable in the event of incidents and accidents in destination.”

    “There is nothing to stop anyone from choosing how their business operates in this regard, but retail agents are encouraged to be well-informed from a legal perspective and also confirm their insurances provide appropriate coverage in cases like this”, added Jardine.

    CATO Associate Member spokesperson Aaron Zoanetti, Head of the Travel & Events division at Melbourne based law firm Pointon Partners said, “Whilst having a robust set of Booking Conditions is an effective way to help protect your interests if something goes wrong during travel, Booking Conditions themselves can provide a false sense of security.”

    Significantly, Zoanetti added that, “If you package up components from different suppliers and sell at an inclusive price on your own terms then, irrespective of what your Booking Conditions say, there is a real risk of crossing over from ‘agent’ to ‘principal’. If a customer suffers personal injury due to the negligent actions or omissions of your local supplier or operator, then you could be directly responsible.”

    According to Zoanetti, “Once the retailer crosses over from ‘agent’ to ‘principal’, the services the retailer supplies to the customer are not limited to simply arranging the booking. They also extend to the actual operation of the tour including services provided by local suppliers.”

    “Things can go wrong. But if you have the right legal documentation in place, you should be able to mitigate the risks associated with the negligent acts of your suppliers”, he added.

    CATO urges travel agents who may think they’re exposed this kind of risk to seek independent legal advice.

    For additional information and inquiries, please contact:

    • Brett Jardine Managing Director, Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO)
    • T: +61 2 9287 9906 | M: +61 2 419 724 909
    • E: bjardine@cato.travel


  • Fri, August 02, 2019 10:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In addition to the 2019 Event incorporating the first ever CATO Awards stream, the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) also shone the spotlight on a number of CATO member businesses who were named as Australia's best in their respective categories.

    Image: The APT Team collecting its 'Best Tour Operator - Domestic' award.

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) congratulates all members that were recognised as finalists across numerous categories and to each of the following 'land-focused tour operators and wholesalers for being recognised as the very best in the business.

    • APT: Best Tour Operator – Domestic
    • Bunnik Tours: Best Tour Operator – International
    • Entire Travel Group: Best Specialty Wholesaler
    • Qantas Holidays & Viva Holidays: Best Wholesaler - Australian Product
    • Adventure World: Best Wholesaler - International Product
    • Kat Nitarski, On The Go Tours: Best Sales Executive – Land
    • Club Med: Best Hotel/Resort Group
    • APT: Best River Cruise Operator

    "The 2019 NTIA Awards were a watershed for CATO", said Brett Jardine, Managing Director of CATO.

    Image: Brett Jardine introduces the inaugural CATO Awards.

    "Not only we were delighted to present the first ever CATO Awards, but it was immensely satisfying to see so many CATO member businesses shine at the travel industry's premier awards—it truly is demonstrative of their relentless pursuit of excellence", added Jardine.

    Image: Neil Rodgers and the Adventure World team taste NTIA success.

    Some 1300 guests from every sector of the travel industry - agents, airlines, hotels and car hire providers, tour operators, wholesalers, river and cruise operators - attended the event.

    CATO was brought further into focus through its partnership with Star Alliance—the two organisations giving away around $100,000 worth of flights and land packages to lucky winners throughout the night.

    Image: That "I've just won a holiday thanks to CATO and Star Alliance" feeling.

    Dennis Bunnik, CEO of Bunnik Tours, and CATO Chairman had a lot to celebrate. "The Bunnik Tours family was delighted to be named Best Tour Operator - International and, for me as CATO Chairman, it was incredibly gratifying to see CATO and its members make such an impact at the travel industry's biggest annual forum", he said.

    Image: The Bunnik Tours team celebrates.

    Click HERE to learn more about the CATO Awards.


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