Paul Brewer, the founder of Lincoln agency Imp Travel, won a Lifetime Achievement Award at The Travel Network Group conference in Munich.
He told Travel Weekly he was “gobsmacked” by the honour, presented to him by TTNG chief executive Gary Lewis as the final award of the awards ceremony held during the gala dinner.
“I was completely surprised, I had no idea,” he said.
“I thought we might have been getting an award as [son] Mark asked me to come to the conference as there was a possibility of an award for the agency.
“I was in Germany anyway, with a river cruise group, so we came by train from Mannheim.”
He was joined on stage by his wife Susan and son Mark, who is taking over the reins of the family business.
Lewis was particularly delighted by the award as he grew up in Lincoln and told delegates how he regularly passed by the Imp Travel shop as a child.
Paul started in travel in December 1970, joining an agency that became Ellerman Travel (later Lunn Poly) then set up Imp Travel 40 years ago.
He also works with a voluntary organisation called Feucht Frohliche Neustadter which runs wine-tasting trips to raise money for charity. The German town of Neustadt is Lincoln’s twin town.
Winners of the Member of the Year awards were Holidays4Golfers (Travel Trust Association), Premier Travel (Worldchoice), Gwyndaf Williams (Independent Travel Experts), Tivoli Travel (Global) and Panache Cruises (Worldchoice Plus).
The People Award winners were Elaine Ferry (Elaine’s Travel, for World Class Customer Service), Ann Milton (Bay Travel, Team Player award), Ann Anglesea (Delmar World, Leadership award), Gail Albert (All Aboard Ship Ahoy, Role Model award), Ann Jones (Teithiau Menai Travel, Unmatched Dedication award) and Matt Nixon (52 Degrees North Travel, Wellbeing award).
Regional winners were Triangle Travel (southeast), Ocean Holidays (London), Peter Goord Travel (southwest), Venture Travel (Wales), Lincolnshire Co-op Travel (eastern England), Millington Travel (central), eShores (northwest), Olive Lounge Travel (northeast), JF Travel (Northern Ireland) and Arcade Travel (Scotland).
Business partner awards for providers of the year, voted for by members, were won by DoSomethingDifferent (ancillary category), Bedsonline (bedbank), Gold Medal (consolidator), Premier Holidays (long-haul), Classic Collection (luxury), Celebrity Cruises (ocean cruise), Oceania Cruises (ultra-luxury cruise), AmaWaterways (river cruise), Jet2holidays (short-haul), Newmarket Holidays (touring) and Great Little Breaks (UK and short breaks).
Many delegates were unable to attend because of disruption caused by heavy snow in Bavaria over the weekend but were able to watch the conference and awards ceremony on a livestream – with some of them dressing up for the occasion.
The evening started with a candle-lit performance of Christmas carols, sung in German by children from the School of Choral Art.
• Rob and Sarah Kenton of Triangle Travel were among the delegates who had an arduous journey to the conference on Monday after the widespread flight cancellations.
Their British Airways flight from Heathrow was cancelled so they booked on a flight to Zurich, arriving at 10am – but discovered Munich station was closed.
“The Swiss Rail staff were excellent and extremely helpful, but would only book us as far as Bregenz on the Swiss/Austrian Border. At the Bregenz the staff would only book us as far as far as Lindau – then at Lindau we were hit with the news that we had no chance of reaching Munich today as the station was definitely closed,” said Rob, managing director.
“Plan B was then a train to Augsburg then an hour by road to Munich.
“We left home at 3am. One flight, five trains, four countries and two taxis later we arrived at 8pm at the Westin Hotel Munich.
“It was well worth the journey as the conference was the best TTNG event we have attended. Both Sarah and I were adamant we would make the conference, no matter how long it took us to get there.
“We are elated to receive the title of ‘Best Travel Business in the South East.’ This achievement reflects the hard work and passion of our entire team, as well as the trust and support of our valued clients. This recognition underscores the company’s dedication to providing exceptional travel experiences and marks a significant milestone in its 22-year history.”