Tipto seeks new chairman to replace Richard Forde

Tipto members are to appoint a successor to chairman Richard Forde as the organisation marks its 25th anniversary and celebrates a spike in engagement with new agents.

Past and current members of the Truly Independent Professional Travel Organisation (Tipto), including seven former chairs, attended a Chairman’s Lunch to celebrate the silver anniversary at The Ivy in London.

They heard that two-thirds of agent attendees at Tipto roadshows this year have been first-timers, as Forde confirmed that this week would be his last as chairman.

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Members are now voting on a replacement for Forde, head of trade sales and partnerships at Newmarket Holidays, who has been chairman since 2022 and has opted to leave before the start of Tipto’s 26th year in September.

He thanked Tipto for helping Newmarket to court the trade, adding: “That community of operators helping each other out has helped Newmarket to win trade awards; we couldn’t have done it without Tipto.”

He said Tipto remained as relevant today as 25 years ago, with 2,000 agents having visited Tipto events this year, of whom 58% were ‘new’ and 47% homeworkers.

The organisation, saved from closure during Covid by former events director Lorna Willis-Edwards’ company Spirit Marketing & Events, now has its current maximum number of 25 supplier members.

Jane Dyson, founder of field marketing company The Network, recalled the creation of Tipto in 1999 in response to the “march of the multiples” as fears grew among independent operators and agents of being “squeezed” out of the market.

With reference to members of Abta’s then tour operator committee, she said: “They decided they had to do something. We at The Network were asked to help recruit operators for this community; no one had ever done anything like this before. We were so proud that first year; we had 29 operators.”

Former chairs at the lunch included Graham Balmforth, Allan Lambert, Colin Wilson, Zena Hill (formerly Calderbank), Jane Atkins and Nick Hughes. Balmforth, who still comperes Tipto’s SuperShows, referenced former chairs John Harding and Ian Mounser, who have passed away, and applauded Dyson and Willis-Edwards for “driving Tipto”.

Willis-Edwards admitted: “It was not easy setting up on my own in 2021. We had 10 members in 2021 and we didn’t even know when we would hold our next event.”

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