AITO Membership Promotion

August 8, 2016 | AITO

AITO's 40th logo

AITO seeks fledgling specialist tour operators in one-off 40th anniversary promotion for free membership


Pitch in Dragon’s Den style to AITO Council to obtain one year’s free Protégé membership as part of AITO’s Next Generation promotion – apply now! 

Continuing its wide range of 40th anniversary* celebrations, The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) has devised a one-off promotion, AITO Next Generation, to encourage entrepreneurs to enter the world of specialist tour operating. It is designed to attract new start-ups and fledgling specialists alike and to reinforce the fact that AITO is an association which encourages and backs both high-quality delivery and best practice.

The project will involve a pitch to AITO, similar to the TV programme Dragon’s Den. The candidates will pitch to AITO’s Council, made up of some of the best specialist operators in the UK, to win one year’s free Protégé membership.

Throughout August, start-up and fledgling specialists are invited to apply for a place in the promotion by submitting their business plan. In September, selected candidates will be invited to present their pitch to AITO Council and, in October, to the wider AITO membership. Successful companies will be selected in November, with the winners’ free one year’s Protégé membership of AITO commencing in early 2017.‎

What will the successful specialists receive as their prize?‎

In addition to one year’s free AITO Protégé membership, the successful companies will have access to mentoring and networking with established AITO members. They’ll also have access to a suite of services from AITO Business Partners, ranging from bonding, recruitment and financial advice to complimentary initial meetings covering legal issues, plus rate reductions across a wide range of other services, from brochure mailing and direct mail fulfilment to utilisation of call-centre services.

Chairman of AITO, Derek Moore, comments: “This new promotion will not only encourage entrepreneurs and fledgling specialists to join the challenging world of specialist tour operating, but will also lay the foundation stones for future AITO members.

“AITO has actually been running a programme for start-ups on an ad hoc basis for the past 20 years (the most recent incarnation being launched in 2011).  It’s a great way into the association for fledgling specialist tour operators, giving them access to a group of experienced minds in terms of established AITO members, plus AITO’s superb range of Business Partners, for advice on best practice and provision of ancillary support services.

“Our 40th anniversary has provided the perfect launch pad for this exciting one-off challenge, to encourage those start-up companies with real drive to succeed in the world of specialist tour operating to aim for one year’s free Protégé membership of AITO, along with many special extras, which would normally be valued at around £4,000 for the year.

“We’re hoping to receive a large number of applications and we’re looking forward to assessing the pitches in a couple of months’ time.” 

Interested parties should obtain details and an application form with which to submit their business plan (required by 31st August 2016) from Bharat Gadhoke, Membership Manager at AITO HQ ( 

AITO currently boasts 125 specialist tour operator members – see for full details. 

*AITO’s 40th anniversary celebrations have included the launch of AITO’s 40 for 40 charity walk – in partnership with two AITO members, Discover Adventure and Dragoman – scheduled for 1st October (all are welcome – to join this charity event, see here).