Someone suggested recently that I should blog on a typical week (or so) to give members not involved with the day to day business of RDO an idea of what we get up to. So here goes, with a not untypical series of days in early March…..
Wednesday – met with Alberto Garcia in London – he had flown up from the Canaries for 2 days and on this first afternoon we are meeting with the CEO of another Trade Association to explore whether there may be opportunities for his organisation to use Alberto’s services. The meeting went well and it looks as though the contact may produce business and financial support for the Enforcement Team. It’s also re-assuring to know that RDO members are not the only ones receiving the attentions of the fraudsters.
The following day we take the train to Manchester to meet with Harry Taylor of TATOC and his Helpline Team, Mark and Francis at TATOC’s offices in the University area of Manchester. Harry meets us at Manchester Piccadilly, I don’t think he trusts me to find the office alone – despite numerous trips there! Alberto wants to expand his service to consumers and we need to make sure that in doing this he is not cutting across TATOC’s activities. It also gives Alberto a chance to talk to the Helpline team about the fraudsters and scams that come up most often. Meantime Harry and I catch up on the progress of the Industry Working Group and the upcoming TATOC Conference. On the return journey, Alberto is pleased with the way the meeting went and declares the 2 days to be a success – much relief, as it is a long way to travel if the meetings aren’t successful. The only downside to his visit was that he had failed to ask us for help on where he should stay in London and as a result he had ended up in a somewhat dubious area of London, his stay being only alleviated by the fact the hotel owner was also a Spanish Football fan so he had been able to watch on satellite a match he didn’t want to miss!
The day after is my usual one spent in the Brussels office – thank goodness for Eurostar. The following day I am on my way to the International Business School at Bournemouth University to see if they can help RDO with the collection of industry statistics on a regular basis and with research on some of the issues facing the industry. The 2 academics I meet there are very enthusiastic and seem eager to look at these projects and have promised me an idea of costs very shortly – they know we have no spare funds this year and will factor this in. I leave in a very optimistic mood as the industry has been handicapped over the years by the lack of regular sales stats etc. The university is in rather an attractive setting and pulls in a lot of students from the M25 commuter belt I am reliably informed. They do a lot of surfing!
The following day is our usual one where there is a Skype call between UK, Holland and Spain. This way, Sue, Nikkie, Maria and I can keep in touch with all developments, swap information and address issues. It is a remarkably cost-effective way to get everyone together without all the hassle and cost of flights etc.
Sue McNicol is representing RDO at the Industry Working Group meeting that day prior to the TATOC Conference and we need to confer on strategy after the call. There has also been a slight emergency over the last few days, as we discover that a company whose ads had been banned on UK TV is now using in-flight magazines to circumvent this. There is a flurry of activity as Sue and I co-ordinate the contact with the magazine owners to point out the problem, we wait to see what the result of this will be.
To Warrington early Saturday morning to speak at the TATOC Conference. There is a good turnout and a large contingent of RDO members present. This is the first chance RDO has had to tell TATOC what it is doing and the importance for the industry in both sides working together. A good conference with some lively contributions.
Back late, Sunday off, apart from emails and then Monday, to a reception at the House of Commons with Henry Bankes from RCI, given by Tourism Alliance UK and the Caravan Club, to hear the Secretary of State – Jeremy Hunt, underline the Government’s new UK Tourism Policy. We also have the Tourism Alliance’s not uncritical response to that policy initiative. The Government has accepted that tourism is a major driver of the British economy so some progress has been achieved. Little sign though that they will remove the 3 most serious inhibitors to the growth of tourism in the UK compared with other EU Member States –ie APD, non-differentiated VAT rate for tourism and the cost and time it takes to secure a visa, particularly in China and India. Nevertheless it was a very good turnout with a large number of MPs in attendance and provided food for thought as to what could be done in the future to get politicians interested in the benefits of our industry to the wider European economy. It is good to see RDO’s name on the back of the policy document as a full Alliance member.
We leave Westminster in the early evening and as we walk across Parliament Square, Henry is off to Brussels that evening for an ABTA meeting and I am going home. I will be on my way to the Brussels office in the morning, start of another week…!