AITO Meets the Media

November 30, 2015

AITO MTM - 2015 group shot

AITO’s Meet the Media & Travel PR

24th November, 2015

One of the largest events organised for the specialist members of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (, a longstanding client of Travel PR’s, AITO Meets the Media is held annually in late November.  With nearly 100 media attending, and close to 50 tour operator and affiliated tourist board stands for them to visit, it’s a busy three-hour occasion, with key freelancers and national travel editors alike seeking the latest news from the nimble-on-their-feet niche holiday companies and their tourist board counterparts.

The results of AITO’s Travel Writer of the Year Awards (TWOTY) are also announced, with journalists (both established and new to the game) and bloggers vying for the coveted titles of Travel Writer of the Year, Young Travel Writer of the Year and Travel Blogger of the Year.

This year saw almost 230 entries – a record number in the 19 years that the awards have now been running.

Judging is a big effort all round.  All of the articles are firstly read by the senior team at Travel PR (we work in pairs to manage different chunks of the entries, in order to ascertain an average score for each one; it takes a good few weeks). Any wildly differing scores are re-marked separately to ensure fair play.  Once we have the top 25 TWOTY scores and the top 10 Young TWOTY and Blogger scores, it’s then the job of four judges to mark all the shortlisted entries.

This year the judges were Desmond Balmer (Joint Editor of The Good Hotel Guide and former Travel Editor of The Observer), Christopher Kirker (former owner/MD of Kirker Holidays and former AITO Chairman), Sue Ockwell (MD of Travel PR and former Chief Executive of AITO) and Derek Moore (current AITO Chairman).

Judges are chosen for their lack of bias and their experience in the field of travel.

As Derek Moore said, presenting the awards yesterday:  “Huge congratulations to all of the entrants for such a high standard this year. We saw a record number of entries, with the AITO Travel Writer of the Year category proving particularly impressive this year. The top 15 articles in that section achieved incredibly close votes.

“As usual, it’s been a mammoth but very interesting exercise for the judges – so many carefully-crafted articles, so many fascinating destinations visited, and such a brilliant demonstration of how vividly words can bring a place to life and drive demand to visit a destination, even in the face of disasters and tragedies.”

AITO welcomes one entry per person for its three award categories (Travel Writer of the Year, Young Travel Writer of the Year and Travel Blogger of the Year), and encourages travel editors and writers alike to enter pieces that have been published in print or online during the course of the year. 

For further information, including details of this year’s proud prize winners, and a roll-call of previous winners since 1997, visit