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

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  • Thu, February 21, 2019 5:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) has today delivered a successful event focused on Crisis Management to nearly one hundred attendees.

    CATO Members and Guests heard from Leann Johnston, Director of Crisis Management & Contingency Planning at Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs followed by a range of experts on crisis management including communications, legal, insurance, leadership and planning.

    Major sponsor RiskLogic opened the event by putting to the audience that “for most organisations it is not ‘Business as Usual‘, so why are the leadership team expected to manage a crisis as part of their normal duties?” The session went on to address the question – what does Crisis Ready Look Like? 

    The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade is Australia’s front line when it comes to major international incidents including consular, humanitarian and security crises. In the second session for the day attendees were given an in-depth look into the role of DFAT from preparatory work through to support for Australians when travelling overseas.

    Session three was a panel of high profile communications experts that included Robyn Sefiani, Founder, Executive Chairman & Reputation Counsel, Sefiani; Jill Collins, Managing Director, Barking Owl Communications and Cara Mygind, Director Communications & Government Affairs, SPG. The panel confirmed how in the event of a crisis, an effective public relations plan is critical and how appropriate communications will go a long way to protect an organisations reputation and often their survival.

    Legal concerns arise prior to, during and following a crisis - be it from a customer liability perspective during travel or exposure to suppliers due to cancellations because of a crisis event. In the fourth session of the day Aaron Zoanetti from Pointon Partners provided a legal perspective around the sort of planning required to ensure that your business (a) meets its duties of care to its customers and (b) mitigates commercial risks which may flow from a crisis event through effective legal documentation.

    Prior to lunch guests were educated on the value of appropriate insurance coverage by Gow Gates Director Specialty, Fred Esteban. This session looked at how to avoid a financial crisis where an incident is out of your control and what happens following an incident where a policy is triggered.

    Author, speaker and leader, Major Garth Callender has lived and managed some of the most extreme crises across the globe following twenty years in the Australian army. He delivered an emotional presentation based on his first-hand experience on how the impact of a crisis can be minimised by well-prepared teams and effective leadership.

    A key ingredient in international travel is healthy airline partners that are exceptionally well prepared in the event of an incident. AFTA CEO, Jayson Westbury interviewed former Qantas executive Steve Limbrick where they confirmed an airline crisis is not limited to the brand involved. It was agreed our entire industry could be impacted and attendees were given a clear picture of the extraordinary depth of preparation that goes into ensuring stability within the airline sector and flow on effect to all industry participants.

    In the closing session, delegates were given a wrap of the day by Dr David Beirman and provided a template for attendees to confidently develop their own crisis management plan.

  • Wed, December 12, 2018 7:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Land-supply sector to deliver quarterly members magazine for trade distribution

    In a move to showcase its members and celebrate the continued growth, quality and diversity of land-based holidays, the sector’s peak industry body in Australia has announced a suite of new publications targeting travel agents.

    In 2019, the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) will publish “Ground Control” as a quarterly digital magazine supported by an annual print guide that will keep awareness high for members and ensure the retail agents on the front end have all the latest information about travel products, trends, planning, personalities, forecasts, profiles and statistics.

    “We are very excited about this initiative that will be an invaluable resource for trade and a fantastic communication channel for our members, large and small,” said CATO Managing Director, Brett Jardine.

    “Ground Control is one of a raft of strategic plays we are making in 2019 to really drive home the value propositions of our members’ travel products and services.”

    Australia’s travel content specialists, Well Travelled will produce the publications for CATO and also offer the articles and images as free downloads for media and trade to re-purpose for their own newsletters, promotions and other content requirements.

    “Every quarter, the digital format magazines will reach more than 5000 retail agents,” said Mr Jardine.

    “We really wanted a vehicle to capture and promote the incredible depth, high quality and extensive range of land-based options available through CATO members and Ground Control will do just that.”

    CATO’s tour operator and wholesale members are all ATAS Accredited providing credibility and peace of mind for Australian agents.

    The annual print publication will be a feature-packed guide that serves the dual purpose of being a permanent go-to resource for agents to reference the specialisations, distinctions and key selling points of each CATO member as well as preview what’s ahead - all designed to provide as much information as possible to agents to help drive conversions.

    “With so many information sources out there, we felt it was important that our members had a single voice that clearly articulated what we are about as a group,” added Mr Jardine. “As a collective, all focused on the same outcomes and strategic direction, we are much stronger than isolated voices championing the land touring sector.”

    The first edition of CATO’s Ground Control magazine will be published in February 2019 with a new edition every three months. The annual guide will be direct-mailed to trade in December 2019.

  • Mon, December 03, 2018 11:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) in partnership with the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO) today revealed an exciting new addition to the travel industry’s ‘night of nights’.

    The 2019 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) will launch the inaugural CATO Awards. The Awards will be held as a dedicated segment within the AFTA NTIA Gala Dinner to recognise and reward front line travel consultants across four categories.

    The CATO Award categories will be promoted alongside the NTIA categories and be included in the NTIA promotional and judging processes. There will be no voting for any of the CATO categories – all winners will be determined via the same two-step submission and judging process used by AFTA to ethically and fairly determine winners.

    Globus, G-Adventures, Intrepid and The Travel Corporation will be the inaugural sponsors of The CATO Awards with the four high profile brands coming together in a group sponsorship, demonstrating the renewed collaborative focus of the land-supply sector.

    The four award categories are;

    • Consultant of the Year – Group Touring
    • Consultant of the Year – Adventure
    • Consultant of the Year – Ski
    • Consultant of the Year – Independent Travel

    “AFTA and CATO have been united in service to the travel industry for well over a decade. This union to enhance the NTIA program, call out travel professionals working with CATO members all within the high standard set by NTIA is yet another fantastic celebration of the Australian Travel Industry,” said Jayson Westbury, AFTA Chief Executive.

    “CATO’s involvement at NTIA delivers an opportunity for us to highlight the significant value of the land-supply sector to a very engaged trade audience. This is the travel industries night of nights and we look forward to being an integral part of the event,” said Brett Jardine, CATO Managing Director.

    The 2019 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) will be held on Saturday 20 July 2019 in the Grand Ballroom at the International Convention Centre, Sydney.

    2019 NTIA Key Dates;

    • Nominations Open - Monday 21 January 2019
    • Category Nomination Submissions due – Friday 15 March 2019 (Selected categories)
    • Nominees Announced - Monday 25 March 2019
    • Voting Opens - Tuesday 26 March 2019
    • Finalists Announced - Monday 20 May 2019
    • Ticket Sales – Tuesday 21 May 2019
    • Judging Period – Wednesday 12 June to Friday 21 June 2019 (Judged categories only)
    • Gala Dinner - Saturday 20 July 2019

  • Wed, June 20, 2018 6:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bunnik Tours energetic CEO, Dennis Bunnik has been formally re-elected as CATO Chairman for a further term at the associations’ Annual General Meeting yesterday. 

    Bunnik has been instrumental in overseeing the transition of CATO from a fledgling networking group to a respectable voice for Tour Operators and Wholesalers. 

    Supporting the future direction of CATO under the relatively new leadership of Managing Director Brett Jardine, is an Executive Committee made up of a diverse group of suppliers including;

    Dennis Bunnik Bunnik Tours (Chairman)
    Martin Edwards Bench Africa (Vice-Chairman)
    Julie King Julie King & Associates
    David Walker ITC Pacific/Sno’n’Ski
    Anne-Marie Mitchell GET Educational Tours
    Matthew Cameron-Smith Trafalgar Tours
    Halina Kubica Greece & Mediterranean Travel
    Brett Mitchell (mid-term) Intrepid Travel Group
    Liz Anderson Sundowners Overland
    Justine Waddington Encounter Travel

  • Wed, June 20, 2018 5:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CATO founder and long-term General Manager, Peter Baily, received a fitting farewell at Sydney’s Establishment Hotel last night. Guests were treated to a number of humorous stories from Peter’s 50 years in the travel industry. 

    AFTA CEO Jayson Westbury praised Baily for his unwavering support of industry deregulation whilst former CATO Chairman, Michael Hay and Rod Eather acknowledged Baily’s unwavering belief in the land supply side of the industry during CATO’s formative years.

  • Fri, September 15, 2017 6:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Council of Australian Tour Operators inaugural Crisis Management Forum was a full day forum held in Sydney in March 2016 and attended by over 80 tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents. Attendees heard from a range of crisis management experts including the head of the DFAT crisis response team and the safety managers of Qantas and Sydney Airport.

    There was also a panel discussion of members that allowed attendees to learn from first hand experiences of CATO members in dealing with a variety of issues. The panel included Wildlife Safari md Trevor Fernandes, who was in Kenya during several events including post-election violence in 2007 and the Westgate Plaza shootings in 2013.

    Key take-outs included the importance of having a crisis management plan and clearly defined roles for key personnel; the importance of having a senior member of the operations team on the ground as soon as possible after an incident; and the importance of relying on contacts on the ground rather than just sensationalised media reports.

    From left: David Beirman of UTS; Rose Romeo from the Qantas Group Business Resilience department; CATO chairman Dennis Bunnik; and Kirsty McNeill, DFAT’s director of crisis management and contingency planning.

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