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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Issue 3 of Ground Control magazine is published.
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.
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.