The judging panel for the TravMedia Awards comprises many of the most high-profile journalists, PR professionals and industry specialists in the UK today. Drawn from national newspapers and magazines, trade media, industry bodies, travel brands, and leading PR agencies, our judges are industry leaders with the perfect credentials for making the big decisions.
Amanda is a well-known and respected face in the global travel industry, with more than 30 years’ experience in the business. Throughout her career, Amanda has specialised in strategy, communication and marketing with leading tour operators and the transport sector before founding one of Europe’s leading communication agencies - MMGY Hills Balfour in 1998. After such a difficult chapter, the power of storytelling and the role journalists will play as the world opens up has never been more important, so Amanda is absolutely delighted to be a judge on this year’s TravMedia panel.
Andrew McConnell is the Head of Media at the UK Civil Aviation Authority. He has worked in the travel and transport sector for more than 30 years. Andrew’s career began in the rail sector during the British Rail era, later being involved in the launch of Eurostar at Waterloo International Terminal. Since 2007, Andrew has specialised in communications, with his first media relations role at Heathrow Express before moving on to be Head of Corporate Affairs for easyJet, which saw him involved in the company’s substantive growth and launch of a charitable partnership with UNICEF, which to date has raised over £11 million. Andrew has also worked at other high-profile organisations, including Flybe, Malaysia Airlines, Virgin Trains and The Department for Transport. His time at the UK Civil Aviation Authority has seen him lead the media and digital team through some of the biggest events in UK aviation, including the collapse of Thomas Cook and Monarch, the regulators’ Covid-19 response and the organisation becoming the UK’s spaceflight regulator.
Andy first joined the Association in 2006 after many years in the travel industry, including as a travel agent. Andy re-launched CLIA's travel agent programme in the UK and later extended it to European countries, during which time agent and cruise line membership reached record levels. CLIA now offers a multi-layered programme that encompasses blended learning to recognise different learning styles. Last year Andy was recognised by Travel Weekly UK for his outstanding contribution to the UK travel industry, and in 2021 was promoted to Managing Director.
Carol Hay is the CEO of McKenzie Gayle Limited, a tourism marketing and development agency, representing the Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK & Europe (CTO Chapter). Carol is also a strong advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the tourism industry and is regularly called upon to share her thoughts on the global stage. With her rich experience in the global tourism sector, Carol Hay has directed multi-national marketing portfolios spanning destination branding, product development and sustainable tourism development.
Dawn is the Director UK & Northern Europe of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, a position she has held for more than a decade. She has over 30 years' travel marketing and PR experience having worked previously in the airline industry. She has also held senior management positions in national tourism organisations, including Tourism Australia, where she was responsible for marketing communications for Europe, and Tourism Flanders-Brussels, where she was Director UK & Ireland. She is also a former Board Director of the Pacific Asia Travel Association UK Chapter, and former Vice Chair of the organisation.
Debbie Flynn is the UK managing partner and global travel practice lead for FINN Partners and has been in the UK travel sector for 35 years, 25 years' leading the agency she founded, Brighter Group before it became part of Finn Partners and 10 years at British Airways. Cited by the PR Week Power Book as ‘the well networked travel supremo', Debbie was listed as one of the top 10 PR influencers in the travel sector for the third year in a row this year.
Duncan Craig is Travel Editor of The Times & The Sunday Times. His love of adventure travel has seen him trek through the Congo, run across the Sahara and kayak in Antarctica but he remains a keen advocate of holidaying in Britain (even when it was optional). Duncan was shortlisted for Travel Journalist of the Year at the 2018, 2019 and 2020 Press Awards.
Marketing Director at Travelopia for Sovereign Luxury Travel, and Citalia Holidays, Erin Johnson has a 20-year history in the Travel Industry. Working in both the Cruise and Tour Operating sectors, she is passionate about travel and relishes introducing new clients to brands, as well as promoting the security that booking with a tour operator brings in these changing times. A seasoned marketeer, Erin also enjoys spending her downtime with her family, or anywhere by the water.
Fiona has enjoyed a twenty-year PR career, spanning corporate, lifestyle and travel spheres. Fiona’s travel client experience includes premium tourism brands that include Aitken Spence Hotels, Conrad, Kimpton and Hilton hotels, and PR for travel disruptors such as Click&Boat and Tourbar. Fiona has also represented destinations as diverse as India, the Maldives, the Philippines, Jamaica, Kyoto in Japan and Breckenridge, Colorado. Fiona is a Fellow of the UK’s Tourism Society and sits on the advisory board of social enterprise Women in Travel (CIC).
Graeme leads ABTA’s external and internal communications, including PR and media relations, marketing communications, brand stewardship and events. Joining ABTA in 2020, he was previously Head of Communications for Waitrose & Partners. He brings to the role more than 25 years’ experience of working with major organisations.
Jane Dunford is Deputy Head of Travel at The Guardian and a freelance editor/writer (and yoga teacher). She has been working in travel for over 15 years and is particularly interested in sustainable, environmentally-friendly travel that supports nature and local communities, as well as wellbeing and adventure. She also helps run reforestation non-profit Forests Without Frontiers.
Formerly travel editor of The Times for a decade, Jane Knight is now a freelance writer and editor. She contributes to a wide variety of publications, from The Telegraph to Tatler, the Australian Financial Review to Aspire, and is editor of The Good Hotel Guide. She also supplies content to travel companies, working with them to address their different content needs, and trains PRs so they stand the best chance of getting coverage for their clients.
Spearheading the PR team at leading luxury travel representation agency Mason Rose, Jenni is a senior communications specialist with meaningful contacts throughout the industry. Having worked across a diverse spread of wellness and travel clients including hotels, tourist boards, and airlines – she has a comprehensive understanding of what makes a great story. Her deep experience has also seen her selected to head specialist panels, talks and workshops in luxury travel, wellness and communications, as well as ensuring Mason Rose’s 360-degree approach continues to go from strength-to-strength.
Jenny Naylor is one of the UK’s most experienced creator of brands in the hospitality and super prime real estate sectors, working with developers and directing the brand strategies for leading projects including The OWO and Raffles London at The OWO on Whitehall, Four Seasons Residences at Twenty Grosvenor Square in London, One&Only Resorts, and Atlantis The Palm Dubai. In 2012, she founded Graf London and has built a reputation for successfully delivering impactful work covering brand strategy, content and production oversight for landmark hospitality and real estate projects. She was appointed marketing advisor to The Luxury Property Forum in 2020, the voice of the luxury property industry with a purpose to foster collaborations, promote best practice and build networks at home and internationally. www.graflondon.com
Joy has over 25 years of experience in the Travel, Tourism and Hospitality industry primarily in Sales, Marketing, PR & Communications. She’s worked for international brands such as AVIAREPS, Emirates, ClubMed, JacTravel and IMG. Joy has helped numerous tourism destinations to grow brand awareness and visitor numbers from UK & Irish travellers. Her multi-dimensional approach, armed with analytical data, travel trends and insights help her develop effective sales, marketing, PR and communication strategies that exceed goals and objectives. She has worked for AVIAREPS as Head of Tourism since 2017 and has nurtured contacts in all channels of the media as well as the travel industry including the major key players and specialists.
Included in PR Week’s 2021 Power Book for the fourth year running, Jules is highlighted by the magazine as “a leading figure in the travel comms space with particular expertise in tourist boards.” She is one of the most respected and well-known PR practitioners in the travel industry with over twenty years in the field. She combines strategic consultancy and a commercial mindset with senior media relationships and a creative vision, leading a talented team devising bespoke solutions to deliver exceptional results.
Laura Millar has been a journalist for nearly 24 years, and started specialising in travel a few years ago. As a result of her passion for destinations, she has written for nationals including The Telegraph, The Independent, The Mirror, The Express, and other titles including Evening Standard, Stylist, Escapism, Woman & Home, TTGLux, New Zealand Herald, The Scotsman, City AM and more.
Lisa Minot is Head of Travel at The Sun - heading up the newly merged Sun Travel team and working across both print and digital platforms. She has been at the Sun since 1991, appointed Travel Editor in 1999 and appears regularly on TV and Radio as a travel expert.
Louise Robinson started her career on the Express and Echo in Exeter more than 30 years ago. She then moved to Fleet Street and worked on the news and features desks of The Daily and Sunday Express, before being appointed Editor of S Magazine, the Sunday Express colour supplement, where she spent 15 wonderful years. She is never happier than taking cruise with her family (she has been on more than 50!) and one of the many, many great things about being at the helm of Saga Magazine is access to their two beautiful boutique ships.
In 1992 Lyn and late husband Paul Morrison schemed out their ideal travel magazine on the back of an airline sickbag, and from there launched Wanderlust from their spare bedroom. The award-winning magazine thrives and has been joined by digital channels, events and extensions such as the Wanderlust World Guide Awards and Wanderlust Photo of the Year. Lyn is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, member of other industry bodies, and is regularly consulted on issues including sustainable tourism.
Lysbeth Fox is the CEO of luxury travel and lifestyle communications agency Fox Communications, whose portfolio of clients includes some of the most prestigious in the world. A highly professional and experienced executive within the luxury sector, Lysbeth has overseen strategic direction and implemented innovative media campaigns for some of the most prestigious brands world-wide. With over 25 years’ industry experience, Lysbeth is passionate about public relations - she is insightful, creative and an ardent proponent of the power of good communications.
Marine is the newly-appointed Head of PR & Clusters Project Manager at Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency. With over 10 years’ experience in luxury hospitality and international travel, she is now responsible for all internal and external PR work of the French Tourism Board in the UK & Ireland.
Mark Palmer is a Fleet Street veteran who has worked variously at the Evening Standard, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Express and is currently Travel & Property Editor at the Daily Mail. He is the author of two books – one about football, the other a history of Clarks shoes. He lives in London and the Scottish Borders. His list of banned words for all journalists and PRs has become legendary.
Nim was born in the Netherlands and grew up in an RAF family growing up living abroad. She studied German and Russian, spending time in both. Her first role in the travel industry was working in a Dutch hotel as a student. After University she joined Bahrain based Gulf Air, before returning to London to start a role with the Netherlands Board of Tourism. She joined Destination Canada in 1995. Her 25 year role there evolved over different elements of promoting the destination, focussing now on Media and PR.
Paul Charles is CEO of The PC Agency, an award-winning travel PR and trade marketing consultancy, and is a travel policy adviser to governments around the world. Paul and his team have been at the forefront of the Covid crisis, appearing as leading commentators and advisers about the travel and tourism sector, offering vital insight into global travel decision-making. Prior to creating The PC Agency, Paul was Sir Richard Branson’s Communications Director at Virgin Atlantic; a Director at Eurostar and a BBC TV and Radio News Presenter. Paul was named as the “Most Influential” travel PR by PR Week in 2021.
Phil has delivered award-winning digital, consumer, corporate and trade PR in agency and global inhouse roles across the travel industry for more than 20 years, including at Virgin Holidays and Cheapflights, part of KAYAK. He now leads integrated corporate and consumer communications for dnata Travel Group in the UK, owner of Travelbag, Gold Medal, Netflights and Travel Republic, and part of the Emirates Group.
Qin Xie is a freelance journalist and editor, specialising in food and travel. She was the acting travel editor at The Independent and led the digital travel desks at The Sun and Metro.co.uk before that. As a freelance writer, her work has appeared in The Times, The Independent, CNN Travel, National Geographic Travel and others. Alongside her journalism work, she also writes Money Talk (heymoneytalk.co.uk), a personal finance newsletter for freelancers.
Richard Hume is Director and co-founder of Hume Whitehead Ltd, a leading PR, marketing and representation agency with a global portfolio of high-profile travel and tourism clients. Richard has twenty-seven years of experience in travel and hospitality, with previous roles including Director of Northern Europe and the Middle East for the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Marketing Director of Tourism Authority of Thailand and six years in tour operating, including Product Director at Magic of Italy (TUI’s Specialist Holidays Group).
Sophie Griffiths joined Travel Trade Gazette in March 2010 as a news reporter, covering cruise, agents, interviews, and industry analyses, before working her way up to the position of editor in January 2017. She is also the founder of TTG LGBT - a network for LGBT people and allies within the travel industry - which champions diversity within the sector. In 2021 Sophie was highly commended as Editor of the Year at the PPA Independent Publisher Awards.
Stuart is Tourism Australia’s PR Manager for the UK & Northern Europe and has worked in tourism marketing and PR in both Europe and his native Australia. He has previously led both inhouse and agency teams representing airlines, tourism boards, OTAs and global hotel and resort brands, among others. Originally a Sydneysider, he has called London home for the past eight years.
Tolene van der Merwe is originally from South Africa and moved to the UK in 2005 with her husband. Tolene joined African Affair in London where she worked as Product Manager for the Africa brochure and was also given Romanian Affair to manage. In 2007 Tolene started her own boutique representation company which she ran until 2014 when she joined South African Tourism as the Hub Head for UK and Ireland on a 5 year contract. From here Tolene moved to Director UK and Ireland for the Malta Tourism Authority in 2019.
Having started her career in PR, Tracey has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years across multiple disciplines for both public and private sector entities. In 2006, she set up the Gibraltar Conference Bureau which was amalgamated into the structure of the current Gibraltar Tourist Board, of which she is the current UK Head. Tracey is Chair of the Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives- ANTOR, which consists of over 60 UK officially represented destinations and as the UK originating chapter is celebrating its 70th anniversary.