Northumberland Tourism

Northumberland's Destination Management Organisation

Travel Trade Top Tips with Tracey Cullen from The Alnwick Garden

Tracy Cullen M
 Group Sales and Friends Manager at The Alnwick Garden, Tracey Cullen has some top advice on preparing your business for group travel.

Tracey Cullen, who was a finalist for The Excellence Award 2018 (part of the Group Leisure & Travel Awards), spoke to Group Leisure & Travel Magazine to share her words of wisdom on how she has developed the group travel and travel trade market at The Alnwick Garden.

Tell us about your relationship with group organisers?

With group travel organisers, as opposed to travel trade, you’re able to build more of a personal relationship when you’re helping them. And that’s the part I really like, and when you’re dealing with them on that level you’re able to tailor things more towards what they want and make their visit that little bit more unique. If they have any worries, they can get that reassurance when they speak to us.

How regularly do you have groups visiting?
We have them visit daily, especially in the peak seasons. I’d say between April to December are the busiest times, with groups in daily until October. Over Christmas we tend to see a lot too.

What can groups do at the garden that is different to a regular visit?
We have the Poison Garden, so groups can do a special tour and have a reserved slot for that. We also offer different tours of the gardens, so if you’re particularly interested in something, we can organise one of the gardeners to take you round. There’s also the head gardener who is very knowledgeable and sometimes the Duchess of Northumberland can even give private tours. So, there’s lots going on, and we can do behind the scenes tours too, for example, we do a tour underneath the fountain, where you can see how it all works.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your role within the groups industry?
The location and knowledge of our attraction. It’s not so widely known as an area and some groups don’t want to do an overnight stay so where we are makes it a little harder to visit. 

What is the most unusual fact about The Alnwick Garden?
We have the Treehouse which is so authentic and is built around 15 trees and it’s all original. It’s a restaurant too, so I encourage visitors to have a look at it because it’s a site that captures the imagination. It’s so unusual.
The Poison Garden is very special too. The Duchess actually created the garden as she thought it’d be interesting for people to learn about the dark side of plants which is an interesting thing to discover on a visit, even common plants that you recognise… you see a different side to them.

From your perspective what is the best advice you’d give to GTOs?
Once you have an idea of what you want to see and do, ask as many questions as you can to get the most out of your trip and package.


You can read the full interview with Tracey over on the Group Leisure and Travel website.

Find out more about the Group Leisure & Travel Awards over on the Group Leisure and Travel website.

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