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CATO's Christmas Lunch is much more than a cocktail event

Thu, November 17, 2022 4:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

'Tis the season to be jolly … and to celebrate the comeback of travel. Could there be a finer way to do this than at the CATO Christmas Lunch? Naturally, CATO thinks not. 

‘Tis the season to be jolly … and to celebrate the comeback of travel. Could there be a finer way to do this than at the CATO Christmas Lunch? Naturally, CATO thinks not. 

But the proof’s in the pudding (the Christmas variety of course) – and with the event open to the entire travel industry for the first time and ticket sales far surpassing expectations, it’s shaping up to be one sweet occasion. 

Platinum sponsor Qatar Tourism has booked their place as have many other industry luminaries. Have you?

As the major media sponsor of the Christmas lunch, Karryon got the lowdown from CATO managing director Brett Jardine about what’s on the menu for the event, the importance of reconnecting, and how CATO (and the whole industry) has been much nicer than naughty this year. 

CATO Managing Director Brett Jardine.

How special does this year’s event feel? Is there a renewed sense of optimism in travel?

This year’s event feels incredibly special. It is the first time we have opened our Christmas event to the wider industry and we are so excited to connect further with everyone and build on the positive momentum right now. 

Absolutely there is a renewed sense of optimism. We are seeing and hearing it from our members and while we have all banded together through the toughest times our industry has faced, as we rebuild it is even more important to stay connected and continue those relationships, which were strengthened during these times of adversity.

Why did you open up this year’s event to the whole industry? Will future events follow?

The past 2.5 years have been about unity, a collective voice and a collaborative approach to our industry. CATO has led the way by being the backbone of our sector and we could not have achieved what we did without our industry partners. This event is as much a thank you as it is a celebration as we all continue to move forward. 

It is also an opportunity for CATO members to reconnect with the trade and their partners. Having the broader industry at our luncheon will allow another layer of face-to-face connection that has been missing for so long and as we all know, these sorts of events stimulate new connections and opportunities, which at present are endless. We intend to continue this theme with future events.

CATO Board Members with Tourism Research Australia in Canberra in June.

What has the response been from the industry?

The response has been incredible. The interest and ticket sales have far surpassed where we thought we would be a month out from the event and this shows how keen everyone is to reconnect and celebrate the highs and lows of what has passed and what is to come. We are so glad CATO can be a catalyst to reconnect our members and so many industry partners.

What can guests expect from this year’s Christmas Lunch?

This Christmas Lunch is different to other Christmas functions. We will have some fun, educational elements, reflection and forward thinking. This is more than just a cocktail function; there will be a delicious three-course meal with drinks included and an incredible afterparty with plenty of time for networking.

The Ivy Ballroom – what will the CATO Christmas Lunch hold?

CATO memberships grew significantly during the pandemic – what was key to this success?

Defining CATO members as the backbone of our industry was a critical part of our discussions with the government. Tour operators and wholesalers are the businesses that take the risk to invest in product development years before it is sold through their retail travel agent partners. 

The traction that CATO was able to establish during the pandemic showed the power of unity to businesses in our sector and members have appreciated an industry voice specifically for them. The collective community strengthened during the pandemic and encouraged people to want to be part of something bigger. 

CATO Christmas event in 2020.

What would you say to businesses considering CATO membership?

If you are a participant in the travel industry and package domestic or international leisure travel products, you are deemed a principal. Chat with us about all the checks and balances required to operate in this capacity. 

Many retail agents are unwittingly acting as principals without the right insurance and/or booking terms and conditions in place. There is nothing illegal about operating in this way however, we are aware that many business owners are potentially exposing themselves to serious financial risk.

In addition to our tour operator and wholesale membership, we also offer a fabulous network of associate members, covering tourism boards, technology providers, airlines and other product/service providers, with a strong interest in engaging with the land supply sector. Contact us to understand what membership options are available. 

CATO Trivia Event 2022.

What does CATO have planned for 2023 and beyond?

CATO is busy planning an expanded events schedule for the year that will focus on supporting our members’ needs and continuing to drive engagement with the wider industry. The major events will include a Crisis, Risk & Resilience conference, Annual Travel Trivia event and our CATO Industry Christmas Lunch, along with numerous other state-based events. 

For more on the CATO Christmas Lunch, register here.

Source: Karryon

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