Exceptional! The best yet! A brilliant weekend! These were just a few of the many positive reactions to this year’s customer weekend held by The Travel Retail Consortium (TRC).  Gathering at the stunning Ettington Park hotel near Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon, 73 TRC members, customers, guests and partners enjoyed a relaxed and social weekend in November.

2-wwl10The theme was ‘Winter Wonderland’ which got off to a perfect start on a cold, crisp Friday evening with a drinks reception and outdoor German Festive Market enabling guests to enjoy a variety of typical food and drink including various types of bratwurst, Schwäbische Käsespätzle (macaroni cheese), bratkartoffeln (potatoes) and sauerkraut, followed by Stollen, Toffee Apples and Pancakes – all washed down with beer and mulled wine. Delicious!

After a full breakfast the following morning, guests gathered in the Long Gallery (divided into 22 teams of three) where they found themselves face to face with large blocks of ice, chisels, and a brief to create – well, anything really! The next 90 minutes saw ice flying in all directions as creative juices flowed in abundance.  Innovation, imagination and ingenuity saw an incredible variety of  ‘sculptures’ including a working bar base with space for bottles and glasses, cruise ship, port bottle and glass, perfume bottle, mansion, and snowflake. The winning teams were John Harwood Lincoln, Sondre Liland and Karen Hunter for their bottle and glass (which actually held water) and Richard Hamilton, Jacqui O’Shea and Toni Barnes for their delightful Remembrance Day poppy.

After a free afternoon strolling round Stratford Upon Avon, enjoying the hotel’s leisure facilities or watching England destroy South Africa at Twickenham, all gathered again for a Taittinger Champagne and Gala Dinner with live music provided by Simply Swing.  As is tradition, bacon rolls were served to all surviving guests at 1am.

During the evening a £5 in the pot charity draw was added to money collected from Friday night’s raffle for over 80 prizes, totaling some £900 for the TRC Chairman’s dedicated charity Guillain Barre Syndrome. 

“It was my first time attending one of the TRC events,” said Karen Sparrow, Director of Operations, DFASS UK. “It was fantastic, so very well organised and such a great location at Ettington Park Hotel near Stratford upon Avon. I found the weekend not only most enjoyable but really interesting and beneficial, meeting up with different faces from the Travel Retail industry, both from the people I already know and quite a few that were new to me.  The Ice sculpting activity was amazing and there was certainly a lot of creativity and talent amongst the group! Followed by the Gala dinner evening, which again I really enjoyed. A great event, thanks to all! 

Tallink Duty Free Category Manager, Aire Kraas, commented: “We were honoured to join the Travel Retail Consortium event for the first time in the UK. This was a really great weekend starting from the beautiful location and almost fairy-tale environment to the very relaxed atmosphere. It was a joy to meet different people from the industry whilst enjoying good food and music. I can-not imagine that there could be a warmer welcome or better organisation of an event than this one! Thank you all again and hope to see you next year!”

Nanouck Ickroth, Overseas Distribution Company’s Duty Free Sales Manager said: “It was a fun weekend, the venue was great and it was a nice opportunity to meet new people from the industry. Thanks to the Travel Retail Consortium for their fantastic organization.”

Says TRC Chairman Peter Ayling: “Every year I think we do better than the year before, but this event really has surpassed them all by far. The hospitality from the Ettington Park hotel has been truly amazing throughout the weekend and I must give TRC’s Tina Davies a huge thank you for all her hard work in making it all run so smoothly. Combined with the incredible enthusiasm that everyone put into the ice-sculpting and the generally fantastically friendly atmosphere, this weekend has truly been one to remember.”

“ I have particularly enjoyed seeing some new faces here this weekend, including guests who have come from overseas and do hope that they have all found the weekend to be unique in its friendly and relaxed format, where we are all here as friends.”

Attending this year’s TRC event were representatives from:  British Airways, Condor Ferries, DFASS, DFDS, Dufry, Jet2, MSX, Newrest, Overseas, P&O Ferries and Tallink.