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Abta unveils programme for Travel Convention

Abta has announced the programme of speakers and business sessions at next month’s hybrid Travel Convention in London.

With the theme of ‘Leading the Way – envisaging and inspiring in extraordinary times’, the event takes place on October 13, as a live conference at East Wintergarden in London’s Canary Wharf and online via a customised digital platform.

ITV presenter Chris Ship will again moderate the convention, while the opening and closing remarks will be made by Abta’s chief executive, Mark Tanzer and chairman Alistair Rowland, respectively.

The first set of sessions will hear from Julia Simpson, president and chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, talking about strong leadership; Andrew Swaffield, chief commercial officer at Virgin Group and chief executive of Virgin Red, sharing his personal experiences and lessons for anyone leading a business through adversity; and trends expert Tom Johnson, managing director of Trajectory.

Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni parent, Der Touristik UK, will update delegates on the work of Abta’s LifeLine charity.

The second set of sessions will look at how destinations are recovering, with Manuel Butler, UK director of the Spanish National Tourist Office, and a ‘tourism for good’ panel discussion moderated by Susan Deer, director of industry affairs at Abta (pictured).

Her panel will feature Butler as well as Zina Bencheikh, EMEA managing director of Intrepid Group, and Ben Bouldin, EMEA vice-president of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Ailsa Pollard – who takes up the role of chief executive at dnata Travel Group (UK & Europe) from November 1 – will speak about her approach to leadership and dnata’s post-pandemic vision of ‘reconnecting a better world’.


More: Four more speakers confirmed for Abta Travel Convention


The third set of sessions will focus on changes amid the pandemic, with a talk from brand and marketing expert Graham Hales, principal at Graham Hales Consulting.

There will also be a panel debate, Navigating the Next Normal, moderated by Lucy Huxley, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly Group. The panellists will be announced shortly.

Also speaking in the third set of sessions is Richard Carret, nominated vice-president of alliance development and communications, Star Alliance; Suzanne Horner, chief executive of Gray Dawes Group and chair of the Business Travel Association; and guest speaker Mohsin Zaidi, a barrister, campaigner and writer – author of memoir, A Dutiful Boy.

The association’s charity, LifeLine, has 32 places for delegates to take part in ‘Ride for your LifeLine’ on the day before the convention, on Tuesday October 12.

The participants can raise funds by riding in the Lea Valley Velopark, (the Velodrome) at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The afternoon event, sponsored by Avis Budget Group, will conclude with supper for all participants and tickets cost £100 per person.

Travel Weekly is trade media partner for the convention – the first to be held in-person in two years due to the pandemic.

The 2022 Travel Convention will take place in Marrakech, Morocco.

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