Pete Constanti is chief executive, mainstream travel, at Thomas Cook UK & Ireland.
- What events have you held in Turkey?
For three out of the past four years, we've held our UK & Ireland Vertically Integrated (VI) Conference for senior colleagues from across the business in Turkey. The conference takes place in December each year - in 2005 it was held in Belek, and in both 2007 and 2008, it was held in Antalya. The conference brings together senior representatives from our tour operator, airline and sales teams, including more than 700 store managers and customer service managers.
- Why Turkey?
In 2005, we were invited by the tourist board and hotels to hold our conference in Turkey, and the initiative they showed in educating an influential audience led to a fantastic conference - so much so that we've been back often.
- What did you do there?
Our annual VI conference sees around 2,800 colleagues from across the business, split into two groups experiencing identical programmes running consecutively. As you would expect, the conference includes sales briefings, award ceremonies and time for the tourist board and hotels to familiarise staff from our travel stores with the region.
- What venues do you recommend?
In 2005 we used the World of Wonders Kremlin Palace Hotel in Belek, and, in 2007 and 2008, we used the Xanadu and Sesesi in Antalya.
- What challenges did you face?
Such a massive overseas logistical operation requires a lot of planning and by working with companies in Turkey we found that many things could be done in-situ, ranging from printing to equipment hire to producing awards for presentations.
- What was the highlight?
Turkish hospitality never fails to impress, and left us with a lasting impression of wanting to help us deliver the best event yet each time.
- What feedback did you get?
The quality of the venues available has always been a big plus in the feedback we've received, and Turkey has clearly been a favourite with all of us, which is why we've been back again and again.
- Top tips?
Our ground agent in Turkey, Diana Travel, played a huge part in helping us with immigration and customs. It's down to its relationship with the government that our processes worked so smoothly. Officials were helpful in ensuring that everything arrived in time for the event.
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