On 13 November I joined 6 Travel Counsellors from South Africa in Johannesburg to jet off to Manchester. We were going to attend our Global Travel Counsellors Conference that was taking place that weekend. We boarded our Virgin Atlantic flight bound for London and took our seats.
We were delayed for about a half hour. This was due to a medical emergency. It was amazing to see the slick efficiency of the Virgin Atlantic flight staff and ground crew in handling the situation. I am always blown away by how friendly the Virgin Atlantic airline crew are all the way through the flight. You can honestly see it is genuine.
It was somewhat colder in London when we landed. After passing through border control, we picked up our luggage and headed off to Manchester with Virgin Rail. It is a pleasant journey, though with the amount of luggage that we had, it was a bit of a challenge trying to find room for all the bags. That did not dampen our spirit.
On arriving at Manchester Piccadilly station, we all put on our Rugby Tops. This was a gentle reminder that South Africa had won the Rugby World Cup, which we were all proud of.
Our colleagues at our Manchester head office took it in their stride. Plus, we even managed to get our CEO Steve Byrne to pose for a photo with our group. For many of our group, it was the first time seeing the scale of the Manchester office in the Venus building. We were given a personal tour around the office and met many new and old faces.
We took a quick trip to the hotel to check in. Then off we went to the Christmas markets for some shopping and sampling of the many different flavours of the mulled wines. Our evening was topped off by a dinner at the famous Mowgli's sponsored by Virgin Atlantic. And to make it even more special there was a firework display which we had a front row seat to.
When we got back to the hotel, we all said goodnight and I believe that every one of us fell asleep before our heads even hit the pillow.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday we attended the conference. It was jam packed with seminars, expo's and lots of socializing and opportunities to make new friends. The Seminars covered entrepreneurship, technology and wellness to name a few.
Friday night was our 25-year birthday party and our usual host Vernon Kay was at his best on stage. He introduced us to some great acts including Only Men Aloud, Dara O'Briain and then some dancing to the amazing DJ sounds of Palamo Faith.
The next morning, we heard from amazing speakers such as Sahar Hashemi, who was the founder of Coffee Republic. She gave us some amazing insight into the challenges that we need to rise up to when running our own business. We heard updates from our own colleagues who showed us how amazing 2020 is going to be for Travel Counsellors!
Saturday nights was our gala dinner where we celebrate the achievements of TC's across the globe. Nina Gerdener & Mercia Gerber grabbed the top spot for Top TC South Africa. We were treated to the amazing vocal range of Belle Voci and then the wonderful Gary Barlow. The night ended off with more dancing.
On Sunday morning our guest speaker was Bear Grylls who is not only a very humble person but a very inspirational one. With everything that he has been through he shared some key take-aways that can make you a very successful person, no matter what it is that you do.
After some more sessions and a great finale by our wonderful host Vic Trundle, we said our goodbyes to our wonderful colleagues from around the world and headed back home, our minds filled with great memories and some awesome ideas. What is clear from attending the global conference is that Travel Counsellors is one big global family filled with people that truly care about their customers and about each other. It is something that you see, feel and experience. Next year’s Conference dates and venue was announced, we are looking forward to Liverpool 20 - 22 November 2020.