DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER,
How did you get involved in the groups market?
I have been in the travel industry in some way, shape or form since 1982 and started as an independent courier/guide working within Europe. Simply Groups came about as a result of my experience with another tour operator, where I was directly responsible for developing the groups market, which grew quickly and proved very successful. In 2001, along with my then business partner, Simply Groups was born. A conscious decision was made from the outset to concentrate on tailor-made tours within the UK and Europe, specifically for private groups and associations, predominantly within the retired sector.
How do you find and develop a unique group product?
This might sound strange but I work very much from a ‘gut feeling’ when it comes to producing tours to new and exciting destinations. This is partly as a result of many years of travelling and working all over the world, which has inspired me with ideas, which we can offer uniquely to our clients. Once a destination has been chosen to add to our portfolio, it is then very important that we visit and research first-hand the hotels, local suppliers and attractions (both well-known and also some more obscure ones), as their suitability for each individual group is paramount to the success of any holiday. Of course, listening to our clients is an important factor also. When destinations are requested by our clients that are new to us, the same effort and research goes into these tours as the holidays initiated from our own ideas. This method of tour production has been the backbone of Simply Groups over the years and our ongoing success within the groups market.
How do you develop and keep group relationships going?
Care and attention to detail, along with regular communication and a personal approach, is key to the way we work with all of our clientele, some of whom have been with us since the beginning. We pride ourselves on building and sustaining relationships based on trust and professionalism and the small team at Simply Groups are an integral part of achieving all of this. On occasion, team members will accompany tours, which is a great way of getting to know our organisers and their groups on a more personal level. It is important that we listen to and do not take for granted our success to date, and feedback is always welcomed. This allows us to monitor and continue to strive to improve the services we offer and keeps us grounded as to the requirements of our clients.
Shauna has many years experience in the field of tour operating and also in worldwide hotel management as a Professional Staff Trainer. She set up Simply Groups 11 years ago. She works closely with the Belgian National Tourist Office in Business Development, specifically with regard to bespoke group tours to the south of Belgium and Brussels.