AAAs Q&A: Simon Applebaum, Gold Medal managing director

With two weeks to go until the Agent Achievement Awards 2024, Gold Medal’s Simon Applebaum highlights the ‘inspirational’ event as the ideal setting for the trade to build relationships. Andrew McQuarrie reports.

Q. Why has Gold Medal decided to sponsor this year’s AAAs?

Gold Medal and our specialist brands strive to celebrate the success of agents year‑round. This event gives us the opportunity to join the industry in thanking them all for their commitment and support in one big celebration.

Q. Which products are you focusing on at the moment?

We were delighted to launch a major partnership with Travel Weekly to promote Australia. It has been running for most of 2024 and we are seeing fantastic results from it. Australia fits perfectly with all our brands, and it’s been a pleasure to showcase this incredible destination. Twelve agents will be travelling with us to Australia in November as part of this campaign. We were also delighted to announce the return of our campaign in partnership with Atlantis, The Palm – a Golden Masterpiece. We are heavily featuring this iconic property across Gold Medal, with some fantastic activity and incentives to highlight and rediscover this wonderful resort. In June, Nerissa Ronquillo from Atlantis, The Palm hosted a webinar for our agents and the engagement was fantastic – it’s great to see them loving this campaign.

Q. How are you supporting your travel agent partners?

As always, we’re operating a year-round calendar of marketing, fam trips, events and agent training around the core promise of the most comprehensive B2B-exclusive tour operator, award-winning contact centre, fully bookable website and market-leading incentive scheme. Earlier this year we announced the return of our mega-fam. We are thrilled to be giving 24 winning agents the chance to experience the Maldives, Mauritius, Thailand or Abu Dhabi, before all meeting in Dubai for an extraordinary stay at five-star One&Only Royal Mirage for the mega-fam finale. We can’t wait to provide this opportunity for agents, supporting them in expanding their knowledge of these destinations. In May alone, we took 45 agents on fam trips and we have many more still to travel this year. We also have a new initiative for agent marketing, which we are excited to be showcasing for the first time at Gold Medal’s Big Day Out event, in partnership with Travel Weekly. This is an exciting new platform for agents, and we can’t wait to share it with them. Watch this space!

Q. How has 2024 been so far?

This year got off to a great start, and unbelievably we’re almost halfway through – where has the time gone? We started off with a really successful peaks and since then we have seen promising performances from our cruise brand, Cruise Plus, and our touring brand, Incredible Journeys, as people are exploring more specialist holidays. Our core Gold Medal brand is also thriving, especially heading east. We are really looking forward to what the rest of the year has in store for our brands and our agents, with so many exciting campaigns, events, incentives and fam trips still to come.

Q. Do you have any advice for first-time guests at the AAAs?

If in doubt, say hello and introduce yourself. This industry thrives on relationships and it’s the best place to build them. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming in this industry, which is what makes it so great.

Q. Favourite destination?

I adore South Africa, but my go-to family holiday is the UAE at Easter. The weather has always been kind to us and we’ve loved pairing our favourite hotels in Dubai with exploring some of the other emirates.

Q. The last holiday you went on?

Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Q. Dream trip?

I would love to do a tour of the Far East.

Q. One word to sum up the AAAs?


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