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.