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Group Travel Grapevine April ’19

Ideas and opportunities for group travel buyers from the team behind GTO magazine. Published since 1988 and the authoritative source of group travel knowledge.

Hello again...

Welcome to our tenth monthly edition of the Group Travel Grapevine!

For those of you who also read our Group Travel Organiser print magazine you'll know that this month the digital Grapevine publication comes in a gap between issues, bringing news without any of the delay that the print schedule would require. We've not been idle however, because our efforts have gone into staging a very successful fourth GO Travel Show at Kempton Park at the beginning of the month on which we bring you a report here.

We've also got a number of great ideas for group visits during the summer months including river trips, the chance of a last ever steam train ride on the Underground, what you'll find at Buckingham Palace at this year's summer opening, and two excellent theatrical performances that you might want to sign up to get tickets for ASAP!

Talking of tickets, places are going fast for our gala Group Travel Awards event in London on 7th June and you'll find an item with more about them and booking arrangements.

Fans of Downton Abbey will be interested in our news of two ways to connect directly with the highly popular story, its locations and characters. And another story that we're sure will be hitting the headlines shortly is H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, being made into a fantastic immersive visitor experience in the City of London complete with Jeff Wayne's music. We've had a sneak preview, and report on that here with links to further information and booking.

See you next month!

Val Baynton, Editor

This month’s menu

Great feedback from the GO Travel Show!

"Best show yet" has been the overwhelming reaction from both exhibitors and group buyers who attended this year's fourth GO Travel Show at Kempton Park on the 16th April.

Blessed with a sunny day, and in the relaxed environment of the racecourse and its Grandstand, the 500+ visitors enjoyed a range of special activities both on-site and with nearby visits, as well as learning much from - and doing business with - the 125 exhibitors from across the travel and tourism industry around the UK and abroad.

If you were unluckily unable to attend this fact-finding opportunity and brilliant day out, you will be able to read a round-up of what you missed in the next issue of GTO magazine or find a review on the GO Travel Show website.

Read more

Treats on the Thames!

Seeing London from the river is a wonderful way to enjoy a group visit to the capital - especially in the summer - with a stress-free vantage point, plus the opportunity to have refreshments or a meal on board while you see the sights, and listen to the onboard commentary. City Cruises are London's biggest leisure craft operator and river cruises depart every 40 minutes each day from Westminster, London Eye, Tower and Greenwich. On the large open upper decks, you have the chance to take great photos of London’s most iconic riverside landmarks. There are lunch and dinner options, and the ever-popular afternoon tea!

For some really special entertainment, City Cruises is launching its first-ever calendar of music events, starting in May. Dining events include regular Jazz Cruises and Elvis Dinners. As well as the river trip boats, the City Cruises fleet includes the permanently moored restaurant ship R.S.Hispaniola where you can enjoy high-quality food in a relaxed, gastronomic haven, with fabulous views, including the London Eye. R.S.Hispaniola also hosts some wonderful dining events, including Murder Mystery Dinners and Tina Turner Tribute Dinners.

Group bookings are available for sightseeing cruises, dining cruises and private hire.

Find out more!

Buckingham Palace celebrates Queen Victoria

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, a special exhibition during the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace will tell the story of how the young queen transformed Buckingham Palace from a private house into a working royal residence.

During a visit to the Palace, visitors can see the 19 magnificent State Rooms which provide the setting for ceremonial occasions and official entertaining. All rooms are furnished with many of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection.

Take a steam train on the London Underground!

London Transport Museum are offering visitors the last ever chance to travel on a heritage steam train through central London to celebrate 150 years of the District line. Passengers will ride an original steam train into the heart of the Capital between Ealing Broadway and High Street Kensington, with Victorian characters and live music to greet them on Ealing Broadway’s platform.

The 23rd June will be the last time steam trains are expected to travel into central London on the Underground network, due to signalling modernisation.

Whitby Abbey re-opens for Group Visits

Whitby Abbey, the imposing ruin overlooking the North Yorkshire coast, has re-opened to the public following a major £1.6 million re-interpretation project by English Heritage.

A newly designed museum and a technology-guided sensory experience will bring Whitby Abbey to life for visitors, as they explore and discover its magic for themselves.

Groups of 11 or more can benefit from discounted entry, with the group organiser and coach driver going free.

Martian invasion made real

Sneak previews confirm that a genuinely ground-breaking new immersive attraction is being created with the War of the Worlds experience, opening at the beginning of June in the lower levels of the former Metal Exchange in the City of London.

The Grapevine's Editorial Director Peter Stonham (pictured amongst the Red Weed featured in the story) was shown round by the development team installing the series of connected sets through which visitors will travel to relive the story of the Martian invasion created by H G Wells in 1898, and set to music by Jeff Wayne in the 1970’s.

Wayne’s music will be part of the experience, as will virtual and augmented reality techniques, lighting and movement effects and very carefully crafted recreations of the various elements of the story from observation of the landing of the Martian invaders, their firepower and the battle with them, and how people sought to escape.

The experience involves an initial 50 minutes moving through to an interval themed bar area and a second stage of 40 minutes involving such treats as a balloon gondola ride up into space! Peter is sure that the attraction will be extremely popular, with a lot to offer group visits.

For more information about the concept see our interview with Project CEO Andrew McGuiness and visit the War of the Worlds website.

The 2019 Group Travel Awards is now open for bookings!

The group travel industry's most prestigious and enjoyable annual event is now open for bookings! Tickets can now be booked online for this evening of glitz and glamour on Friday 7th June at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London.

The Group Travel Awards are decided by the readers of GTO magazine and the Group Travel Grapevine, and have earned an enviable reputation as the most distinguished and respected event serving the group travel market. They reflect a highly valued endorsement from customers in this most important market sector, and the awards evening is one of the sector's premier get-togethers.

Book tickets

Cirque du Soleil to return in 2020 with European premiere

The famed Cirque du Soleil will return to the Royal Albert Hall next year with the European debut of their show Luzia. The sights and sounds of Mexico will be conjured up by acrobats, contortionists, jugglers and freestylers in death-defying performances. Booking is now open, so groups are advised to act now as the Cirque shows are always a sell-out!

The Play That Goes Wrong goes wronger for longer

The Olivier Award-winning comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong, against all odds has announced a new booking period with tickets going on sale for performances at the Duchess Theatre until 3rd May 2020.

Follow in the footsteps of your favourite Downton Abbey characters

Fans of the award-winning TV series Downton Abbey are looking forward to the Live Open Air Concert on 22nd June that's set in the stunning grounds of Highclere Castle. But what you may not also realise is that you can now take a walk on the aristocratic side of life with a London Locations Walking Tour.

Not only will you experience the filming locations around the capital, but you'll also learn about the venues that stood in for Liverpool and Manchester. All the tours are led by an entertaining and knowledgeable guide, who will reveal behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes about how the show was made.

Tours begin at Temple tube station, with your guide for the day taking you on a tour lasting two and a half hours, which concludes at Buckingham Palace.

Tours must be booked in advance, but it naturally involves a lot of walking, so it may not be suitable for those with mobility or health problems.

Learn more
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